Name: Clara Parsons

Role: Undergraduate Student 

Education: Georgetown University

Hometown: Jamaica Plain, MA



1. What are you looking forward to working on in the lab?

I am planning to pursue medical school in the future, so I am excited to combine my interests in childhood development, cognitive psychology, and mental health through the Dunn Lab. I will be primarily focused on work in the lab’s “Team Tooth” workstream, which I am extremely excited about, because I want to learn more about biological markers that we can connect to stressful life experiences. I’m also looking forward to attending lab meetings, psychiatry grand rounds, and undergraduate lunch seminars to gain preprofessional experience. 


2. What are 3 big questions you are interested in answering?

  • How can our bodies internalize environmental adversities that lead to mental health issues?

  • How can we use knowledge about sensitive periods to predict when people are susceptible to depression and other mental health conditions? 

  • How can the research we perform around environmental stressors and gene expression connect to postnatal health? 


3. Of your most recent accomplishments, which one are you most proud of?

My favorite experience I have found so far in college is my role as a tutor in a local Virginia detention center. I work to tutor inmates that are trying to get their GEDs in math, social studies, science, reading comprehension, and more. I worked with an inmate early on in the semester on his long division skills, and after much patience and explanation I successfully helped him learn this skill. When I came back a week later after the lesson, I gave him a problem at the beginning of the next session which he did seamlessly and rapidly. It was extremely rewarding and inspiring to see a man who spoke badly of his own intelligence and capability pick something up so quickly that I had taught him how to do! 

4. What are you reading right now?

I’m currently in between books, but I just finished “Everything I Never Told You” by Celeste Ng. I read “Little Fires Everywhere” beforehand and was quickly captivated by her storytelling. I only wish she had more novels!


5. What’s a quote that you live by?

“A woman who knows what she brings to the table is not afraid to eat alone.” – Unknown