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Meet Taylor Niblack, a senior Human Development & Family Studies and Psychology double major with a Speech and Hearing Minor. She works in Dr. Clare Harrop’s laboratory in the Department of Allied Health Sciences.

What encouraged you to get involved in research? I wanted to get involved in research since I learned this was an opportunity for undergraduates at UNC, and I applied to join a lab my sophomore year, but this was cancelled as a result of the pandemic. Coming back this semester, I knew I wanted to get involved in meaningful research, as I know the importance of evidence-based practice in the clinical setting, and this will be something I utilize in my future career. I also want to be able to help come up with solutions for how to help people and children especially in difficult situations, and this is done directly through research. The lab I work in focuses specifically on autism diagnosis in girls, and my passion for helping children in stressful situations drew me to the Harrop Lab specifically, and research in general.

What are your career plans? I am currently in the process of applying for graduate school to get my Masters in Speech-Language Pathology. My ultimate career goal is becoming a Speech Language Pathologist who works with children in several different settings. I am interested in feeding therapy in the NICU and PICU of the hospital, as well as helping children through childhood speech and language disorders in the clinical and/or school setting. This career will allow me to work with children on a daily basis and help them with their communication, which is an essential part of existence, and that is something I’m so excited to pursue.

What is the most valuable lesson you’ve learned? The most valuable lesson I’ve learned from this experience is how important research truly is to clinical practice and beyond. Without research, we would not be able to learn and grow as clinicians, or as humans. One of the research projects in our lab involves talking with autistic individuals to see their priorities and hearing their personal experiences, and how a lot of research does not align with their own values is extremely impactful. Through reading journal articles and working on my literature review, I can see areas of speech and language that need more research, especially with telepractice, and this makes me excited for future practice, and passionate about discovering more throughout my clinical journey and into my own practice.

Our Undergraduate Research Series features spotlights on our Psychology and Neuroscience majors and minors who are conducting undergraduate research with our faculty! We believe strongly that undergraduate experiences are greatly enriched by inquiry and discovery through undergraduate research. Research experiences allow students to better understand literature, determine areas of interest, discover their passion for research, continue on to graduate studies, and to jump start their careers as researchers. If you are an undergraduate who is interested in pursuing research experiences, we offer PSYC and NSCI 395 as an opportunity to work side-by-side with graduate students and faculty members on cutting-edge psychological and neuroscience research. We also recommend you visit the Office for Undergraduate Research to find research opportunities, apply for research funding, and for helpful tools and advice. Research opportunities abound at UNC – find one that works for you!

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