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Jessica Zurlo

Jessica Zurlo
2015-2016, Undergraduate Student - Biology
Jessica Zurlo


I am currently a junior at the Pennsylvania State University majoring in Biology concentrating on Genetics and Developmental Biology.  I am also pursuing a minor in Psychology. Upon graduation, I hope to pursue a medical degree focusing on clinical genetics. In the spring of 2015, I was given the opportunity to be a research assistant in Dr. Janet van Hell’s lab. During this time, I have had the privilege of working on multiple projects.

In December of 2015, I was awarded the undergraduate PIRE fellowship to study perceptual asymmetries of voicing mispronunciations of both Dutch and English speakers at Radboud University Nijmegen. While in Nijmegen, I will be conducting my research under Dr. James McQueen. Previous research has shown that English-speaking adults show asymmetries in the perception of voicing mispronunciations. Using Event Related Potentials as a measure of recognition, English-speaking participants looked at a picture of a bottle while the word was mispronounced using the phoneme /p/ like “pencil.” Following this mispronunciation, their brains responded with the N400 component. However, when “pencil” is mispronounced using the phoneme /b/ as in “bottle,” no N400 is found. The opposite detection has been observed in Dutch speaking toddlers, but not adults. I am interested in seeing if the Dutch adults and English monolinguals show these expected asymmetries and if Dutch-English bilinguals show the same asymmetries as monolingual groups.

While I am not in the lab, I can be found taking salsa or bachata classes through the Penn State Ballroom Dance Club, reading a good book, or going to concerts. I am also a member of the National Society of Collegiate Scholars and the Phi Eta Sigma Honor Society. I am incredibly honored to have the opportunity to participate in the PIRE program and conduct research in the Netherlands.