Sarah Paterson is Senior Program Officer for the James S. McDonnell Foundation. Sarah earned her Ph.D. in Psychology in 2000, under the supervision of Prof. Annette Karmiloff-Smith at the Neurodevelopment Unit, University College London, where she studied language and number understanding in infants and adults with Williams syndrome and with Down syndrome. This work won her the Butterworth Dissertation Award from the International Congress on Infant Studies. She completed postdoctoral work at the Institute of Child Health in London, in infant brain imaging at the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience at Rutgers University, Newark, and at the Yale Child Study Center.
Her research interests are in developmental cognitive neuroscience and in particular in the developmental trajectories of cognition, language, and the brain in young children with neurodevelopmental disorders, such as Autism, and in those growing up in poverty.
She was co-principal investigator of an NIH Autism Centers of Excellence Grant, the Infant Brain Imaging Study, at The Center for Autism Research at CHOP/ University of Pennsylvania. This is a multi-site study of brain and cognitive development in infants at high risk for Autism. Most recently, Sarah worked with Prof. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek at Temple University, where she led a study working with community organizations in low-income neighborhoods to investigate expectant mothers’ knowledge of child development. In addition, she co-led a study investigating the effects of a theatre arts curriculum on children with Autism in a New York City Public School.
Sarah is particularly interested in how to reduce inequalities in early child development and education, and in promoting the public understanding of science.