Sarah Short

Assistant Professor and the Dorothy King Chair in Educational Psychology

Sarah is also a faculty member for the Center for Healthy Minds at UW. She received her Ph.D. in Biological Psychology and Neuroscience from UW – Madison. Following her graduate studies, she completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

Sarah’s current research focuses on the impact of poverty on early child brain development. She has been awarded a $2.5 million National Institute of Child Health and Development (NICHD) grant to study the link between poverty, brain development, and cognitive processes that facilitate learning, self-monitoring and decision-making in children.

Sarah is an affiliated faculty member of the Department of Psychology.

CV | Publications

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Graduate Students

black and white headshot of PemaPema Lhamo

Pema Lhamo is currently a first-year graduate student in Human Development program in the Department of Educational Psychology. She is very passionate about doing research that aims towards making our communities more compassionate and kinder. Pema is a Tibetan, born and raised in the northern Himalayan region of India! She completed all her schooling from the Tibetan Children Village (TCV) school.

  • BS: (Hons.) Biomedical Science, Delhi University, India
  • MS: Life Sciences, Jawaharlal Nehru University, India

Pema is currently contributing to a large scale research project in Mexico that aims to foster the well-being of children and adults in the school environment by introducing social and emotional learning curricula. She is also interested in understanding how practices that foster compassion can influence well-being and how such practices may strengthen relationships between individuals and larger communities.


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Camille Y. Williams

Camille is a doctoral student in the Department of Counseling Psychology and a member of Dr. Sarah Short’s research team at the Center for Healthy Minds. Her main interests are parent-child interactions, attachment, empathy development in children, and early language development. She currently works with Dr. Short on a study about the impact of poverty on brain development.

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Marie-France Perrier

Marie-France Perrier is a speech-language pathologist and PhD candidate in Rehabilitation Sciences at the University of Ottawa. Marie-France’s research focuses on the acceptability of an adapted mindfulness-based intervention for children and adolescents with cognitive-communication impairments due to acquired brain injuries. She is also interested in expanding on the definition and understanding of cognitive-communication impairments across interprofessional boundaries in pediatric rehabilitation.

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Caleb Flack

Training Program in Prevention, Intervention, and Enhancement (PIE)


Caleb Flack is a doctoral student in School Psychology at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and a part of the PIE scholar program. Caleb’s goals are to develop, implement, and evaluate family-based interventions that promote positive emotional and behavior outcomes for youth.

Undergraduate Students

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Melanie Benito

I am currently majoring in Neurobiology and earning a certificate in Chicano/Latino Studies. One of my biggest goals is to attend medical school and become a physician in an area related to either women’s health or neonates and children. I have a strong passion for helping others and for this reason, another one of my goals is to help provide access to medical care in underprivileged communities.

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Monika Pantha

I am planning to major in Biology and getting a Global Health Certificate. My future goal is to go to medical school to earn either MD or MD/PhD. I want to both teach and work at a clinic afterwards.

Other Lab Members

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Marianne Griffin

Assistant to Sarah Short


Marianne is the assistant to Sarah Short at the Center for Healthy Minds and the Department of Educational Psychology. She provides administrative and scheduling assistance, as well as support for day-to-day lab operations.

Contact Marianne with questions about the Brain & Early Experience Lab:


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DK Jang

Research Assistant


DK works on the BEE study, specifically focusing on building neonatal and pediatric brain atlases using Diffusion-Weighted Imaging (DWI) data. The purpose of this project is to extract more reliable and reproducible data from individuals and have a standard space to compare metrics across individuals or groups. He is interested in how very early experiences influence the way the brain develops.

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Xiaoxu Rong

Research Associate


I got my bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Central China University (Wuhan, China) in 2018 and graduated from the master’s program in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling program at UW-Madison in August, 2020. During my undergrad and graduate study, I have developed the interest in studying how early experience, especially familial factors, influence infants’ brain and cognitive ability development.

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Tammi Kral

Postdoctoral Research Associate


Tammi investigates neural and behavioral processes underlying affective experience, their developmental trajectories, and mechanisms of change that contribute to improved well-being and resilience. Her approach builds from multidisciplinary training in the foundations of clinical, social and developmental psychology, and neuroscience. She uses a combination of behavioral, physiological and neuroimaging methods. Tammi’s research has contributed to the scientific understanding of brain networks underlying emotion regulation in adults and empathy in adolescents. She has examined brain-behavior relationships and plasticity following training in mindfulness meditation, and the impact of an empathy training video game in adolescents.

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Sylvia Ruiz

Outreach Specialist


Sylvia works on the Mindfulness For All project. She teaches culturally relevant mindfulness curriculums to Latinx adults and youth using learner-centered activities and lessons and builds long-term relationships and partnerships with community organizations serving the Latinx population. Much of this work is done as a part of Primordial Multicultural Healing Community.