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Principal Investigator

Dr. Cara Palmer is the director of the Sleep and Development Lab and the co-director of the MSU Sleep Lab. Dr. Palmer joined the MSU faculty as an assistant professor in Psychology in 2018. Prior to coming to MSU, Dr. Palmer completed her doctoral training in Life-Span Developmental Psychology at West Virginia University in 2014, and a postdoctoral fellowship in Clinical Child Psychology at the University of Houston from 2014-2017. In 2017, she was promoted to research faculty at the University of Houston within the Department of Psychology and the Texas Institute of Measurement, Evaluation, and Statistics. Dr. Palmer has received numerous awards and grants for her research from organizations including the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the Sleep Research Society, and the World Sleep Society.

When not in the lab or the classroom, Dr. Palmer loves to spend time with her family and friends, travel, cook (and eat!) new foods, paint, listen to science podcasts, and stay active by running or hiking in the beautiful mountains of Montana.

Our Team: Programs


Graduate Student

I am a fourth-year graduate student, originally hailing from Richmond, Virginia. I moved to Montana in 2012 after graduating from James Madison University. My research interests include sleep, emotion regulation, and executive function. I am particularly interested in the relationships between cognitive factors (e.g. selective attention, rumination) and sleep, emotion regulation, and other mental health outcomes. Outside of school you can find me hiking, skiing, napping, or pouring craft beer at my side job!

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Graduate Student

Giovanni Alvarado is a first-year graduate student from Los Angeles, California. He graduated from the University of California, Merced in 2020 where he received his Bachelor's degree in Psychology. Giovanni's current research interests revolve around the relationships between sleep, stress, anxiety, and its effects on other health outcomes. During his free time, he enjoys hanging out with friends or playing and watching soccer, football and basketball. If any of those three sports are not in season, he'll watch any other sport that isn't baseball.



Project Coordinator

After visiting MSU in the Spring of my junior year in high school I knew that this was the school that I wanted to attend. I absolutely love being involved on campus, I have been in two research labs and volunteer at the VOICE Center. I have a passion for working with children and having a stronger understanding for how to be the best mental health professional for them down the line. In my free time I love watching Criminal Minds, going on hikes/walks around Bozeman, cuddling with my cat, and reading as much as I can.



Research Assistant

I am currently a Senior at MSU studying Cell Biology and Neuroscience with a minor in Psychology. After I graduate, I plan to attend graduate school to continue pursuing my passion for the brain and research. I am originally from Cheyenne, WY, but I have fallen in love with Bozeman and now call it home. Outside of school, I love hiking, drinking tea, and spending time with friends and family.



Research Assistant

I am a junior majoring in Cell Biology and Neuroscience and minoring in Psychology. I plan to go to medical school to become a doctor.
Outside of classes I love to read, play sports and listen to ’80s music.

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Research Assistant

I am currently a Junior majoring in Psychology, originally from Livermore, California. I have an excitement to get involved in research to further understand how the mind works on a psychological level. After completing undergrad, I hope to complete my Master’s in order to pursue a career of therapy in the mental health field! Outside of class I enjoy baking, spending time with my pup, and getting outside in the beautiful state of Montana.



Research Assistant

I’m currently a Junior majoring in Psychology and Sociology. After graduation, I plan to attend graduate school with the hope of becoming a Licensed Clinical Social Worker to support underserved rural communities. I’m from Bozeman, so I love all things outdoors, particularly hiking with my dog, backpacking, and cross country skiing. I’m very excited to be apart of the SAD research team this semester!

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Research Assistant

I am a sophomore studying psychology and nursing at Montana State. After undergrad, I hope to become a mental health nurse practitioner. My hometown is Fort Collins, CO where I love to paddleboard on Horsetooth Reservoir. Outside of classes, I love spending time with friends, hiking, and reading.



Research Assistant

As a Montana native, much of my childhood was spent at our family ranch. My roots lay in a BUTTEiful hometown, which includes the world’s largest toxic water pit. I will be finishing my undergraduate degree in Cellular Biology and Neuroscience with hopes of attending medical school. I have grown to be very passionate about animals, humans of all sizes, and psychology! With time being so precious, I try to spend as much of it with my family, friends, and pups while enjoying the outdoors. I am more than excited to continue learning from Dr. Palmer and assisting in the SAD lab!



Research Assistant

I am currently a senior majoring in psychology with a minor in sociology. I grew up in Winnett, Montana and came to Bozeman in 2018 to attend MSU. After I graduate, I plan on attending graduate school to further my education. When I’m not busy with classes or homework I like hiking, reading, or spending time with friends or my cat.



Research Assistant

I’m a Senior at Montana State University studying Psychology and taking Pre-Med courses. I love the study of the brain and how it affects our social and physical lives. After I graduate, I plan on pursuing medical school to become a psychiatrist. I grew up in Florence, Montana and love to hike, snowboard, and explore the Bozeman area with my friends.

Our Team: Get Involved
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