Graduate Students

Current Graduate Students


Patrick Ledwidge, M.A.

Patrick is a 4th year Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Psychology at UNL, with concentrations in cognitive neuroscience, quantitative methods, and communication disorders. He is broadly interested in combining neuroscience and ecologically valid methods to study short- and long-term outcomes of traumatic brain injury and sports-related concussion. His research aims to better understand the psycholinguistic and cognitive mechanisms that support functional communication, and how these processes are disrupted in individuals with neurogenic communication disorders. Patrick has a passion for teaching, advising, and mentoring students throughout both coursework and research. Patrick graduated from DePauw University in May of 2013 with a B.A. in Psychology. He received his M.A. in Psychology from UNL in August 2015. Patrick has completed all required courses and passed his doctoral comprehensive exams on April of 2016. He will defend his dissertation in July of 2017.


Curriculum Vitae


Past Graduate Students

Caitlin Hudac, Ph.D.

My research interests apply the use of neuroimaging techniques (including EEG/ERP, MRI, NIRS, and MEG) to study the development of language, learning, and social development. The research that I conduct with the dBrain Lab is largely interdisciplinary, encompassing topics such as theory of mind development in infancy, emotion regulation and autonomic arousal, effects of sleep disruption on cognition, the involvement of reward circuitry when viewing art (neuroaesthetics), and brain plasticity following traumatic brain injury.Prior to coming to UNL, I was the research coordinator for Dr. Kevin Pelphrey at the Yale Child Study Center where I conducted pediatric autism research. We used fMRI to measure the social brain in children with autism, siblings unaffected by autism symptoms, and neurotypical children as young as 4 years of age. I also was involved in executing infant neuroimaging using fMRI.Currently, my research focuses on cognitive neural mechanisms across early development. More specifically, I study the early emergence of social cognition in infancy, such as mental state representations. I am interested in developing computational models to explore how these mechansism emerge in infants. I hope to apply my work to both typical and atypical development (e.g. autism, learning disorders).


Selected publications:

    1. Hudac, C.M., Kota, S., Nedrow, J.L., & Molfese, D.L. (2012). Neural mechanisms underlying neuro-optometric rehabilitation following traumatic brain injury. Eye and Brain, 2012:4, 1-12. PDF
    2. Molfese, D.L., Ivanenko, A., Fonaryova Key, A., Roman, A., Victoria J. Molfese, V.J., O’Brien, L.M., Gozal, D., Kota, S., & Hudac, C.M. (In Press). A One-Hour Sleep Restriction Impacts Brain Processing in Young Children Across Tasks: Evidence From Brain Recordings. Developmental Neuropsychology.
    3. Pelphrey, K.A., Hudac, C.M., Shultz, S., & Vander Wyk, B.C. (2011). Research Review: Constraining Heterogeneity: The social brain and its development in autism. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. 52, 6, 631-644. PDF
    4. Kaiser, M. D., Hudac, C. M., Shultz, S., Lee, S., Cheung, C., Berken, A. M., Deen, B., Pitskel, N. B., Sugrue, D. R., Voos, A. C., Saulnier, C. A., Ventola, P., Wolf, J.M., Klin, A., Vander Wyk, B. C., & Pelphrey, K. A. (2010). Neaural signatures of autism. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 107, 49, 21223-21228. PDF
    5. Perlman, S.B., Hudac, C.M., Pegors, T., Minshew, N.J., & Pelphrey, K.A. (2010). Experimental manipulation of face-evoked activity in the fusiform gyrus of individuals with autism. Social Neuroscience. PDF
    6. Vander Wyk, B.C., Ramsay, G.J., Hudac, C.M., Jones, W., Lin, D., Klin, A., & Pelphrey, K.A. (2010). Cortical integration of audio-visual information. Brain and Cognition, 74, 97-106. PDF
    7. Vander, Wyk, B.C., Hudac, C.M., Carter, E.J., Sobel, D.M., & Pelphrey, K.A. (2009). Action understanding in the superior temporal sulcus region. Psychological Science, 20, 6, 771-777. PDF

Kathleen Kelsey, Ph.D.

Kathleen is a sixth year graduate student working towards her Ph.D. in the Neuroscience and Behavior program at UNL. She is broadly interested in the use of advanced statistical techniques in examining predictive pathways to developmental behavior disorders. Kathleen has specific interests in the effects of chronic stress on developmental neurobiology and functional brain development. She is currently finishing her dissertation project investigating the neurophysiological correlates of emotion regulation in maltreated children using event-related potentials (ERP). Kathleen is transitioning to her new position at the University of Kansas, updates coming soon.



      1. Kelsey, K. M. (2013). Executive Functions: What They Are, How They Work, and Why They Evolved? [Review of the book Executive Functions: What They Are, How They Work, and Why They Evolved, by Russell A. Barkley]. Developmental Neuropsychology, 38, 78-80.doi:10.1080/87565641.2012.744756
      2. Kota, S., Kelsey, K. M., Rigoni, J. B., & Molfese, D. L. (2013). Feasibility of using event-related-potentials as a sideline measure of neurocognitive dysfunction during sporting events. Neuroreport, 24, 437-439. doi: 10.1097/WNR.0b013e3283616512
      3. Chevalier, N., Kelsey, K. M., Wiebe, S. A., & Espy, K. A. (under review). The temporal dynamic of preschool response inhibition: An ERP study of partial and successful inhibition.
      4. Kelsey, K. M., Hoffman, L., Wiebe, S., Sheffield, T., & Espy, K. A. (under review). Impact of prenatal tobacco exposure on developmental change in motor control and delayed gratification in preschoolers.

Selected Presentations:

      1. Kelsey, K. M., Chevalier, N., Wiebe, S. A., & Espy, K. A. (2012, March). Neurophysiological correlates of emotion regulation in preschoolers: An examination of the effects of socio-economic status. Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Cognitive Neuroscience Society, Chicago, IL
      2. Kelsey, K. M., Clark, C. A. C., Nelson, J. M., Sheffield, T. D., Chevalier, N., Wiebe, S. A., et al. (2011, April). Predictors of Developmental Change in Motor Control across the Preschool Period. Poster presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development, Montreal, QC.
      3. Kelsey, K. M., Kiviniemi, M. T., Wiebe, S. A., McChargue, D. E., & Bevins, R. A. (2010, February). Smoking and the Iowa Gambling Task: Are smokers poor learners in a task involving monetary reward? Poster presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Research on Nicotine and Tobacco, Baltimore, MD.
      4. Kelsey, K. M., Espy, K. A., Wiebe, S. A., Sheffield, T., & Wakchlag, L. S. (2009, February). Impact of prenatal tobacco exposure on neuropsychological dimensions of ADHD. Paper presented at the thirty-seventh annual meeting of the International Neuropsychological Society, Atlanta, GA.

Allison Skinner, Ph.D.

I am a Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Psychology at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, with a research specialization in Social Cognitive Neuroscience. My research program is centered on developing an understanding of the causes and consequences of subtle social bias against diverse social groups. In my research I show how subtle social biases are activated and spread, as well as their psychological consequences for targets of bias. In order to develop a complex understanding of subtle social bias, I employ a range of research methods including neurophysiological (i.e., event related potentials/ERPs), behavioral, and self-report measures. I am particularly enthusiastic about utilizing multilevel and multivariate analysis approaches and longitudinal modeling, which generally provide the most accurate test of my nuanced research hypotheses.

Personal website:



Selected publications and presentations:

      1. Nicolas, G., & Skinner, A. L. (2012). “That’s so gay!” General negative usage of the word gay increases implicit anti-gay bias. Journal of Social Psychology, 152, 654-658. doi: 10.1080/00224545.2012.661803
      2. Skinner, A. L., & Stevenson, M. C. (2012, May). Discrimination against Asian drivers: Asian Driver Stereotypes Scale construction and validation. Presentation at the Association for Psychological Science Conference, Chicago, IL.
      3. Skinner, A. L., Stevenson, M. C., Fowler, S. (2012, March). Female driver stereotypes and attribution of responsibility in a civil automobile accident trial. Paper presentation at the American Psychology-Law Society Conference, San Juan, PR.
      4. Skinner, A. L., Stevenson, M. C., & Sorenson Farnum, K. (2012, January). Juvenile defendants who rape different-race victims are treated more punitively. Presentation at the Society Personality and Social Psychology Conference, San Diego, CA.
      5. Skinner, A. L., Stevenson, M. C., & Breault, M. (2011, May). Anti-Arab prejudice extends beyond terrorist stereotypes: Arabs are blamed for car accidents more than Caucasians. Paper presentation at the Association for Psychological Science Conference, Washington, D.C.
      6. Stevenson, M. C., Sorenson, K. M., Skinner, A. L., & Dzwario, R.A. (2011). Impact of race on perceptions of adolescent sex offenders. In M. Paludi (Ed.), The Psychology of Teen Violence and Victimization (pp. 57-80).California: Praeger Publishers.
      7. Skinner, A. L., Sorenson, K. M., & Stevenson, M. C. (2011). Is public support for sex offender registration policies driven by a desire to protect society or punish offenders? In N. M. Palmetti & J. P. Russo (Eds.), The Psychology of Punishment (pp. 33-50). Hauppauge, NY: Nova Science Publishers.

Cathryn Cortesa

Cathryn Cortesa is a fourth year graduate student working toward her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology with a concentration in psychology statistics. She is broadly interested in using neuroscience techniques to investigate cognitive development in the first year of life. Specifically, her research aims to better understand development and learning in early infancy, and better predict risk for self-regulatory, attentional, and learning difficulties later in childhood. Prior to coming to UNL, Cathryn worked as a research assistant in the Bradley Hasbro Children’s Research Center in Providence, Rhode Island. Cathryn graduated from Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts in May of 2010 with a B.A. in psychology.


Selected publications:

  1. Cortesa, C. S., & Molfese, D. L. Dynamic effects of familiarization on infant event related potentials. Submitted.
  2. Cortesa, C. S., Hudac, C. M., & Molfese, D. L. Effects of dizziness, nausea, and disorientation on brain and behavior in college athletes. Submitted.
  3. Fitzpatrick,P., Vander Hart, N., & Cortesa, C. (2013). The influence of instructional variables and task constraints on handwriting development. Journal of Educational Research, 106(3), 216-234.
  4. Vander Hart, N., Fitzpatrick, P., & Cortesa, C. (2009). In-depth analysis of handwriting curriculum and instruction in four kindergarten classrooms. Reading and Writing, 23(6), 673-699.

Selected presentations:

  1. Cortesa, C. S., Molfese, D. M. (April 8, 2014) Dynamic Changes in Attention to Familiar and Novel Stimuli in Newborn Infants. Poster presented at the Cognitive Neuroscience Society 2014 Annual Meeting, Boston, MA.
  2. Cortesa, C. S., Meinders, A. M., Fangmeir, A., & Molfese, D. L. (October 3, 2013) Infant Familiarization: Dynmaic Time Course of Learning. Poster presented at the Nebraska Neuroscience Symposium, Omaha, NE.
  3. Cortesa, C. S., Hudac, C., M., & Molfese, D. L. (October 11, 2012). Brain-Behavior Relationships in Collegiate Athletes: Utility of Event-Related Potentials. Poster presented at Concussion in Athletics: From Brain to Behavior, 2nd Annual Conference. Penn State University, State College, PA.