Project Title: Computational and Neurodevelopmental Mechanisms of Memory-Guided Decision-Making
Position: Postdoctoral Fellow
Institution: Columbia University
Funding NIH Institute/Center: National Institute of Mental Health
Project ID: K99MH133994
Katie Insel, PhD, grew up in upstate New York and then moved to New York City as a teen. Her experiences during adolescence inspired her to explore how the brain develops from childhood to adulthood. For her undergraduate studies, Dr. Insel majored in psychology at Columbia University. During college, she taught middle and high school students, and her time in the classroom piqued her curiosity about how the developing brain influences motivation and learning. She studied these topics as a graduate student at Harvard University, where she received her PhD in psychology. Her graduate research focused on how adolescents respond to incentives, like rewards and punishments, and how ongoing brain development influences goal-directed behaviors. Dr. Insel is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Columbia University's Zuckerman Institute, where she studies the computational and neural mechanisms of memory and decision-making. Her ultimate goal is to understand how these processes change with age during adolescence and how adolescent brain development relates to risk for mental health disorders. She’s dedicated to mentoring high school, undergraduate, and graduate students from historically underrepresented backgrounds to promote diversity in the biomedical sciences. Beyond the lab, Dr. Insel is committed to reforming juvenile justice policies that disproportionately impact youth of color. She works with legal scholars and policymakers to translate neuroscience research on adolescent brain development to inform cases that shape national- and state-level policy.