MSU cognitive scientist receives early career award for research on learning

Contact: Sarah Nicholas

Laura Allen (Photo by Megan Bean)

STARKVILLE, Miss.—Mississippi State University psychology faculty member Laura Allen is being honored by the Federation of Associations in Behavioral and Brain Sciences with an early career impact award.

Given to early career researchers who provide major contributions to the sciences of mind, brain and behavior, the award recognizes Allen for research on cognitive processes that drive multiple text comprehension. The presentation will be made at the 2020 meeting of the Society for Computers in Psychology in Montreal, Canada.

An assistant professor and director of the Language of Learning Lab, Allen’s research investigates cognitive skills required for successful text comprehension and the ways in which instruction and training can enhance these skills. She has conducted a number of studies regarding how individual differences in cognitive skills and knowledge relate to performance on reading comprehension and writing assessments.

Her current research in MSU’s Department of Psychology examines the cognitive and metacognitive processes involved in learning from written text and is applying these insights to educational practices through the development of interventions and educational technologies.

Mitchell Berman, professor and department head, said Allen has made a significant contribution to the field of computers and psychology with her work on language comprehension, writing and knowledge acquisition. She has published approximately 80 peer reviewed publications, including 29 as first author.

Berman said Allen has demonstrated an “impressive level of productivity for an early career investigator and is a highly worthy recipient of this prestigious award.”

Allen said the award gives her confidence in her work and the trajectory for her career. She said much credit for her success should go to her mentor Tommy Anderson, associate dean for undergraduate academic affairs in MSU’s Judy and Bobby Shackouls Honors College and interim assistant dean for undergraduate affairs for the College of Arts and Sciences.

In 2018, Allen received two four-year grants from the Institute of Education Sciences for approximately $1.4 million each for her work as co-principal investigator of projects researching how students process complex information in today’s technology-driven society. She is developing educational tools that provide students, teachers and researchers with writing analytics and feedback.

A native of Brandon, Allen received her 2017 Ph.D. and 2014 master’s degree in psychology from Arizona State University. She received undergraduate degrees from MSU in 2010 in both English and foreign languages, as well as a Teachers of English to Speakers of Other Languages, or TESOL, certificate.

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Thursday, February 14, 2019 - 3:35 pm