Lauren Kasparson ’15 is majoring in neuroscience at Colgate and is completing a Summer Field School Fellowship at the Kelberman Center, an organization in Utica that is dedicated to the advancement of individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. Lauren is working as a part of Kelberman’s Awesome Summer Days camp, a five-week summer program designed to increase inter-camper socialization through a variety of fun activities. Lauren is helping to create and implement an assessment tool that will measure qualitative and quantitative progress and help document social skill improvements in individual campers. By the end of the summer the social skill measures Lauren is collecting will allow Kelberman to see which specific tools are most effective for campers. It will also allow their staff and counselors to provide information to parents and families about their child’s social skill development and how it has changed at their time at camp.
Lauren’s fellowship at Kelberman is giving her an opportunity to apply her years of neuroscience study. “Spending time in a classroom or in a lab space at Colgate provides a great conceptual understanding of statistical practices, and my time at camp has shown me that that understanding is incomplete without the addition of field work,” she said. “Autism, in this case, gains a great deal of meaning when taken off of the pages of a psych text book.”
Lauren began the Summer Field School with a general interest in working with those with Autism Spectrum Disorders, and feels that this opportunity has pushed her further towards a career in autism research. “I intend to work in the broad field of neuroimaging, and I know that my work with the campers has taught me the value in autism research,” she said. “I would love nothing more than to use research together with field work to brighten the futures of these and other kids on the spectrum.”