Stacey Schaefer

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I am a cognitive-affective neuroscientist in the Institute on Aging at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. I received my B.S.at UW-Madison in Psychology and Zoology and Ph.D. in Psychology with a specialization in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Pennsylvania. My research focuses on identifying the linkages between individual differences in affective chronometry measures of emotional responses, health, wellbeing, and brain aging, as well as the psychosocial and lifestyle factors that moderate those relationships.

Besides leading the MIDUS Affective Neuroscience Project, I am also P.I. of a study examining how emotion may contribute to the development of Alzheimer’s Disease in collaboration with the Wisconsin Registry for Alzheimer Prevention, and  co-PI of a large R01 study examining how individual differences in the time course of emotional responses are important for cognition, mental health, stress regulation, the immune system, and coping with the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

I believe in supporting my trainees and giving them the resources and attention to succeed, publish, and secure the next position in their career. I provide timely and extensive feedback on writiing  (always within a week or less), make myself available to meet one-on-one as needed, and encourage and support seeking postdoctoral funding and building grant writing skills. We are a collaborative group and hold several regular weekly meetings focused on general lab business, as well as specific imaging modality analyses (e.g. diffusion weighted imaging, resting state fMRI, etc.) in order to promote productivity and analysis of the data.

Finally, I am not faculty.  I have never applied for a faculty position. My current title is “Scientist III” but I have been promised (for several years now) that when UW-Madison finally makes “Research Professor” positions available, I will be promoted to that position since it most aptly describes my work, my history of grant funding, and my years of leading large NIH funded research studies. I have not applied for faculty positions because I didn’t think I was capable of securing and flourishing as faculty.  Instead, I have always wanted real work-family balance and reasonable work hours while doing important science.  This life goal has been a perfect fit for the MIDUS study, which has an inherent goal of gaining a better understanding of what is needed to promote better lives for all Americans. This policy and commitment to wellbeing pervades my lab dynamics and expectations for trainees. I believe that productivity needs to be balanced with health and wellbeing at all stages of a person’s life and career.

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