Blog Harvey A. Friedman Center for Aging

Summer Research Program: Growth, development and learning

Written by Dania Salman, BA candidate at Saint Louis University, and participant in the Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program

Mentor, Erin Foster (right) and student, Dania Salman (left) wearing matching bracelets at the Caribbean Heritage Festival in Forest Park

Participating in the Institute for Public Health Summer Research ProgramAging and Neurological Diseases track has been an incredible experience. My mentor, Associate Professor, Erin Foster, PhD, OTD, OTR/L, has truly been a tremendous role model, as this summer, I have had the opportunity to be a member of Prof. Foster’s Cognitive and Occupational Performance Lab.

As a member of this lab, I have been working on a study that deals heavily with the MultiContext Approach in relation to Parkinson’s disease. The MultiContext Approach was developed by Joan Toglia, PhD, and is a metacognitive intervention that encourages the use of various skills and strategies with the goal of increasing cognitive performance in daily life. I have been analyzing retention data from this study, and I will present these findings at an upcoming symposium here at Washington University.

Prof. Foster and the members of her lab are committed to creating an environment that has allowed me to thrive, grow and learn more about myself and the world around me. I have also observed interviews in a study about diversity in Parkinson’s research, as well as in another study that investigates prospective memory training in Parkinson’s disease. Having the opportunity to contribute to research in Parkinson’s has been an experience for which I will always be grateful. The support and encouragement that I have received this summer has allowed me to gain new perspectives, make a positive impact in the world, and has allowed me to grow as both a person and a student with the dream of becoming a Clinical Neuropsychologist.

Growth, development and learning have each played an integral role in this summer experience. In addition to participating in Prof. Foster’s lab, I have shadowed at the hospital, observed assessments, attended seminars, analyzed data, attended community events, volunteered at various events, and made meaningful connections. Learning more about neurological diseases such as dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease and strokes has allowed me to grow in my passion for Clinical Neuropsychology and related fields. As an individual with an aunt who has been diagnosed with dementia, learning more about these neurological diseases is very impactful and close to my heart. This summer program has fostered an environment in which I am actively learning, feel comfortable asking questions, and feel as though I am contributing towards making a difference in the world of research.

Experiencing the abundant encouragement and support from the Washington University community has been incredible. It has been an honor to have been selected as a member of the 2023 Institute for Public Health Summer Research Program – Aging and Neurological Diseases cohort. I am excited to continue growing and learning this summer, and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to become a member of the community and family here at Washington University in St. Louis.