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Raquel Cowell

Assistant Professor of Psychology 

B.S., Westminster College, Salt Lake City
M.A., Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota
Ph.D., Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota 
Postdoctoral Training, Wisdom Grant, University of Chicago


Programs: Psychology

Raquel Cowell graduated from a small liberal arts college and enjoys working with students both inside and outside of the classroom. She is a former Ronald E. McNair Postbaccalaureate Achievement Scholar who cares deeply about helping students from underrepresented groups navigate the world of higher education. A developmental psychologist by training, Cowell is interested in understanding how early adversity influences decision-making processes later in life. She and her students in the Developmental Decision-Making Lab explore these questions using electroencephalographic (EEG) techniques. During the academic year, she enjoys teaching students about how humans change over time and hopes to impress upon them the importance of understanding the complex relationship between one’s development and his/her/their environment.

Training
She received her training at the top-rated Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota where she studied the brain through functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) techniques. After receiving her Ph.D., she completed a one-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Chicago where she assisted in a study examining brain wave differences in children from low-income neighborhoods using electroencephalographic (EEG) methodology. She also led an fMRI study examining the importance of perspective taking on decision-making processes.

Research
Cowell is interested in how we make decisions across the lifespan. Decision-making covers a wide array of actions and includes how we navigate situations of uncertainty and risk, adapt to our ever-changing environment in a constructive way, and update our mental models to avoid past mistakes. This process changes across our lifespan and is influenced by our past experiences. She is interested in why these changes occur and how our previous experiences influence them. To study this, she combines several techniques including neural data, laboratory performance on cognitive tasks, and questionnaire data on early life experiences. 

Courses
PSYC 100 General Psychology 
PSYC 220 Lifespan Human Development
PSYC 230 Adult Development and Aging
PSYC 301 Basic Principles and Methods of Psychological Research
PSYC 489 Special Topics: Childhood Adversity and Resilience