Spring 2017 Finding Their Voice

A Passion for Research. For Teaching. For Students.

Jennifer Roth, PhD, a cognitive neuroscientist with a background in brain-based research, thought she’d be happy immersed in research—until she discovered how much she enjoyed teaching.

“I love the performance aspect of teaching,” she laughs. “But more than that, I love seeing my students grow.”

After earning her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Pittsburgh, Roth studied cognition and brain imaging at Carnegie Mellon University and later at Johns Hopkins University and Yale University. She was also a professor at Concordia College in the suburbs of New York City.

Today Roth is assistant professor of psychology and co-director of Carlow’s Honors Program. She’s also a beloved mentor to her students.

“Students come in their first year and they’re so quiet,” she says. “Once they find a passion for something, be it mental health or women’s rights or whatever, it forms their voice.”

Roth runs a student research lab at Carlow—steps away from her Antonian Hall office. Recently she and psychology undergraduate student Haley Pritchard examined the effects of lifestyle choices such as drinking, sleep, exercise, and challenging thinking tasks on a person’s ability to think on a basic level. They presented some of this work at an international conference in Boston.

Roth is also passionate about issues of social justice. This past January, she and Assistant Psychology Professor Melanie Kautzman-East took a group of students to Washington, D.C., for the Women’s March.

Roth recently joined the Islamic Center of Pittsburgh in support of members of the local Muslim community (She herself is a practicing Lutheran). She feels she’s found a home at Carlow.

“I have strong colleagues and good administrators,” says Roth. “I can trust that the school is going in the right direction and finding resources that are important.”

And she’s impressed by the drive she sees in her students. “Maybe it’s the Pittsburgh work ethic,” she laughs.

But she knows it’s more than that. “They own their successes—and their failures,” she says. “They tell me, ‘this is where I am,’ and I meet them there.”

And together, they move forward. That’s the joy of teaching.

At the Women's March on Washington
Who: Two Carlow professors and eight undergraduate students. And they had a waiting list.
Overheard: “Show me what democracy looks like. This is what democracy looks like!”
Seen: A sea of pink on a serpentine route through the nation’s capital.
“If you really want to feel empowered, inspire a group of students to get more active now.”—Jennifer Roth

By Alison Juram D'Addieco