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Principal Investigator

Dr. Cara Palmer is the director of the Sleep and Development 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 travel, cook (and eat!) new foods, and stay active by running or hiking the beautiful mountains in Montana with her husband and Newfoundland dog.



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

Dagny (she/her/hers) is a 2nd year graduate student and the current coordinator for the Sleep and Development Lab. Dagny grew up for most of my life in the small town of Salmon, Idaho where she has been a whitewater river guide for the past 12 years. Dagny has been a guide on the Middlefork of the Salmon, which is Shoshone-Bannock tribal land, and it is her favorite place in the entire world. If you can't find her there you can find her very busy with a nose in a book, community building, or project managing somewhere. Dagny's current research focus is looking at the intersection of sleep as it relates to positive psychology constructs such as mindfulness and self-compassion. When Dagny isn't working you can be sure to find her with a paintbrush, on a dancefloor, or cooking good food for good friends.



Project Coordinator

After growing up in Bozeman, I loved the area so much I decided to stay for college. Alexis received her B.S. in Psychology, and a B.A. in Directed Interdisciplinary Studies.



Research Assistant

James Loftis is a Junior at MSU studying psychological science and statistics. He plans to graduate in the spring of 2021 and to go on to pursue his PhD in psychology, focusing on sleep and the human technology interface. Off campus, James enjoys all the outdoor fun Montana has to offer mixed with community involvement and good books.



Research Assistant

I am from South Dakota studying psychology and minoring in biochemistry. After my undergraduate I plan to attend medical school. I am interested in the field of biopsychology, and hope to one day pursue pediatric psychiatry. In my free time I enjoy yoga, being around animals, and hanging out with family and friends.



Research Assistant

I am currently studying applied psychology as a junior in college. I plan to go for my master’s degree and eventually a PhD in psychology. I am from the small town of Wolf Point, Montana and was so excited to move to Bozeman. I went here my sophomore year of high school for a college tour and fell in love with the campus and the town. Two of my favorite hobbies are dancing and reading. I am so excited to be apart of this team and learn so much more about sleep and development!

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Research Assistant

I am a Junior at MSU majoring in Psychology and minoring in Business Management. I am originally from Truckee, California and I moved to Montana a little over three years ago. When I am not at school or work I love being outside and exploring all that Montana has to offer. In the winter I love to ski and in the summer I love to hike. Recently I have taken up backcountry skiing as a way to challenge myself and include my three-year-old mixed breed dog in the fun!



Research Assistant

My name is Rainey Schoonmaker and I moved out to Big Sky for the mountains. I graduate in the spring with a bachelors in Psychology and am hoping to pursue a masters in Neuroscience.  I’ve spent the last couple of summers raft guiding on the Gallatin river and work at a ski shop part time in the winters.

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Research Assistant

Growing up in Bozeman, I couldn’t imagine going anywhere else for school! I am a sophomore majoring in both criminology and psychology. After my undergraduate, I plan to pursue a PhD in
graduate school with a focus in forensic psychology (the criminal mind is so fascinating!) I am aiming for a career in behavior analysis or research in neurocriminology. Outside of classes I
love to play tennis, travel, and sketch.



Research Assistant

I'm a junior studying cell biology and neuroscience, and after I graduate, I hope to attend medical school, with the goal of coming back to practice here in Montana.  My hometown is Billings, Montana, and I love being close to family and being able to spend time at the family cabin on the Boulder River.  When I'm not busy with school work, I can be found curled up with a good book and my three cats, or better yet, at the cabin with a book and my cats :)



Research Assistant

Originally from Durango, CO, Bella recently moved to Bozeman. She graduated from Colorado College with a degree in Geology and has since abandoned the field. Although she still loves hypothesizing about rocks as a hobby, her dabbling in psychology classes in college and recent pursuit of a career in health coaching has excited her to explore further study in psychology. Her training is rooted in positive psychology and she is excited to expand upon her knowledge of the complexity and importance of sleep. Ever the curious cat, you can find Bella reading about her latest intrigue, drinking tea, and enjoying the outdoors through climbing, biking, and skiing.

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Research Assistant

I am a junior studying Applied Psychology with a minor in Human Development. I am eager to further my knowledge with a Master's degree in Counseling. I moved to Bozeman from Wolf Point, Montana and transitioned from an elementary education major to a career path for counseling. I love working with children; therefore, I remain enthusiastic to be a mental health professional for them in the future! My hobbies include songwriting, playing instruments, and adoring cats. I look forward to being on the team, and can't wait to meet more people through that process!