ANST Member Highlight:
Saranya Sundaram is a 5th year clinical psychology Ph.D. student in the neuropsychology area of emphasis at Palo Alto University (PAU). Currently, she is completing her predoctoral internship in the adult/geriatric neuropsychology track at Emory University School of Medicine.
Saranya’s interests in neuropsychology were cultivated through her parents who are neurologists. She initially began pursuing pre-medicine during her undergraduate studies, but quickly realized her passion for clinical neuropsychology—a career where she could give a voice to the cognitive and functional impairments accompanying many neurological conditions. She subsequently obtained a master’s in rehabilitation counseling at UT Southwestern Medical Center, where she gained a strong foundation in both neuropsychology and rehabilitation. Here, she was one of two students awarded the Texas Society of Allied Health Professionals Graduate Student Award for her scholastic achievement and community and leadership service in allied health in the state of Texas. At PAU, Saranya completed her clinical training at both the VA Palo Alto Healthcare System and UCSF Memory and Aging Center, where she gained in-depth experiences in assessment and cognitive rehabilitation with adult and geriatric individuals presenting with neurological and neurodegenerative conditions.
Saranya has also established a strong interest in simultaneously engaging in empirical research alongside her clinical work. She is primarily interested in examining functional implications of aging and medical comorbidities, as well as identifying non-invasive biomarkers, compensatory neural mechanisms, and rehabilitation strategies to improve diagnostic detection, progression, and functionality in neurodegenerative diseases. Prior to her doctoral program, she worked as a research coordinator at UT Dallas Center for Brain Health, where she primarily investigated executive dysfunction, aging, and functional reorganization in multiple sclerosis. At PAU, she joined an NIH-funded study on aging and neurodegeneration in HIV and Parkinson’s disease through SRI International and Stanford University, where she examined speed of information processing and aging between HIV and Parkinson’s disease, as well as the impact of neuropathology, sleep, and glymphatic system functioning in Parkinson’s disease. The results of her work have been presented at national conferences and published in peer-reviewed journals. Saranya also successfully defended her dissertation in May 2019, which investigated the impact of cognitive, emotion, and motor impairments on quality of life between aging HIV and Parkinson’s disease. During internship, she has continued collaborating with her colleagues at the UCSF Memory and Aging Center to examine baseline neuropsychological profiles in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and its associations with survival time.
Throughout her graduate career, Saranya has developed an enthusiastic interest in teaching and mentorship. She has served as a teaching assistant for several graduate courses, including Cognitive Bases of Behavior, Personality Assessment, Integrated Assessment, and Neuroanatomy & Neuroimaging. She was also selected to independently teach Biological Psychology as an adjunct faculty instructor in the PAU undergraduate program and helped co-facilitate an evidence-based teaching workshop for PAU graduate students interested in pursuing academic teaching in the future. Furthermore, Saranya’s commitment to mentorship has become a valuable asset to her fellow colleagues, and she was recognized for her efforts by her university during national mentoring month.
Ultimately, Saranya’s career goal is to become a board-certified clinical neuropsychologist at an academic medical center, specializing in adult lifespan populations and engaging in a combination of clinical work, research, and teaching/mentorship. She participated in the APPCN match this year and will be going back home to Dallas, as she matched to her top choice at UT Southwestern for their Clinical Neuropsychology Alzheimer’s BvB postdoctoral fellowship.
ANST In-Focus Member Highlight
Every 3 months, ANST highlights the hard work of one of our members on the main page of the ANST website. You could be the next ANST In-Focus Highlight! The call for submissions is now open and we’re looking forward to your application.
The submission period will close on December 1, 2018. To apply, please complete the brief form that is attached to this announcement and submit to the ANST email account at email@example.com with your name saved as part of the document title.
After an ANST member is selected, they will be featured on the main page of the ANST website until the next member is selected. We look forward to hearing from you!
ANST Interest Group Highlight:
Reps: Carissa Lane
The Wheaton ANST interest group was founded in 2016 and currently has 12 active members who participate in the e-mail listserv, attend lectures, and participate in events.
Over the past year, the Wheaton ANST interest group has focused on two main initiatives: didactics/fact-finding exercises and mentorship. These efforts are benefiting students and helping them prepare to become excellent board-certified neuropsychologists dedicated to serving their chosen patient populations.
Each week over the summer (and hopefully at least monthly in the coming school year) the Wheaton ANST Interest Group meets for approximately 3 hours for a presentation on a specific topic in neuropsychology, followed by a case conference in which students use the fact-finding method to discover components of the case and formulate impressions/recommendations. Thus far, the group has had presentations on the cognitive domains and effort in neuropsychological assessment, Alzheimer’s disease, and the vascular system/cerebrovascular disease. Future topics of discussion will include DLB, movement disorders, TBI, FTD, toxic/metabolic syndromes, the neuropsychology of psychiatric conditions, neurodevelopmental disorders, and many others. Fact-finding has become increasingly valuable to students over time as they learn case conceptualization and integrate knowledge they have gained through didactics.
Through a mentorship program established within the past year, ANST students at Wheaton are matched in pairs based upon varying levels of experience and topics of interest. Mentors are expected to meet with their mentees at least once monthly to guide them through searching out high-quality neuropsychology training sites, research opportunities, and general areas of professional development. This mentorship program allows less experienced students to receive individualized guidance from those who have navigated similar training paths, while building professional relationships that might not have been fostered otherwise.
ANST In-Focus Interest Group Highlight
The call has gone out! Every 3 months ANST will feature one of our members and one of our many Interest Groups around the nation. Stay tuned for highlight updates by checking our website often.
Want to be featured? The nomination call will go out over the ANST listserv, with applications being sent two weeks prior. When applying, please follow all provided directions and submit the required information to firstname.lastname@example.org by the posted deadline. Any questions may also be submitted to the ANST email account.