Grace George

Position title: M.P.A./Ph.D. Candidate


Hometown: Grafton, WI
Undergraduate Education: BS- Neurobiology; University of Wisconsin-Madison, May 201

Professional/research interests:
I am interested in using clinical and neuroimaging techniques to understand mental health and psychiatric disorders and how that affects children’s educational and life outcomes. Specifically, I look at parent-child interactions and parental psychopathological symptoms to understand child symptom progression and brain development.  

Chancellor’s Scholar
Science & Medicine Graduate Research Fellow (SciMed GRS)
Wisconsin Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Bridge to Doctorate Fellow (WiscAMP-BD) 
NIH Diversity Supplement 
UWSMPH Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Search Committee Member 

Expected graduation date: 2023 

What was so appealing about the program for you?
It is one of the only programs in the world that allows for the combination of policy and neuroscience. The program has been so encouraging to let me and other people in the program pursue our interests. We get a breadth of knowledge that not many people get to experience in their PhD’s. When I come out on the other side, I will have such a unique set of skills that will help me pursue whatever career path I choose. 

What experiences shaped your decision to enroll in the Neuroscience and Public Policy program at UW-Madison?
As an undergrad, I initially joined the Educational Neuroscience lab here at UW-Madison. I wanted to get some experience in research in a field I was unfamiliar in to get more exposure to opportunities on campus. In the lab, we looked at cognitive mathematical development of children, both typical and atypical populations. I was able to see the possibilities of what research can do for education and what it can hold for public policy in general. However, I also saw the disconnect between policy and science and how its not easy to communicate between the fields. There was an obvious need for a more cohesive and open approach to science that can influence policy, and for policy makers to ask for research that is imperative for their jobs. Being in that lab directed me to want to pursue a degree program that crosses the fields so that I can help bridge the gap. 

What is your dissertation research focused on? What are you learning, what techniques are you using? What excites you about this research?
My dissertation work focuses on computational neuroimaging looking at parent-child interactions and their effect on child brain development. I use machine learning, fMRI, and SCR to assess parent psychopathology and its effect on child brain development.  

If any NTP or N&PP alumni and/or friends have helped you with your career path or course work, who was it and how did he or she mentor you? 

 Edward Hubbard, PhD was a great help being my undergraduate mentor and helping me get into the program. 

In what on- or off-campus volunteer activities do you participate?
I participate in SciMed GRS. I am also President of GAINS (Graduate Association of Interdisciplinary Students in Neuroscience) our student union. Further, I volunteer with NTP outreach events.  

What are your career goals?
My goal is to find an interdisciplinary postdoctoral job that allows me to combine my two degrees. I hope to then pursue a AAAS science and technology policy fellowship to learn more technical policy experience.  

How has your N&PP experience (classes, research, etc) set you on the path to meeting your career goals?
N&PP is helping by giving me the opportunities to receive policy experience during my internship, along with classes, to give context to my science. I will be able to leave UW-Madison with a unique perspective compared to many of my peers. 

What advice would you give to prospective N&PP students?
You are allowed to have a wide breadth of interests and concerns. They are all valid and have the right to pursue what you want. Your research does affect more than just your field and having both degrees allows you to be a more conscious scientist. More scientists need policy experience so if you think you may be interested in this, you should go for it because you will be ahead of everyone else. 

Is there anything you’d like to add or emphasize (family, pets, travels, interesting experiences, volunteer activities, etc.)?
I would like to thank my parents (who are both in policy) for being very supportive of me and my interdisciplinary interests.  

People would be surprised if they knew…
In the summer you can find me on one of the many lakes in Madison paddle boarding, or at a park playing sand volleyball.