Katherine is a PhD student in Educational Psychology at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in Dr. Ed Hubbard’s Educational Neuroscience Lab. She completed her MA at the UW-Madison in Interdisciplinary Theatre Studies with an emphasis in Theatre for Youth in 2018, and transferred to the EdNeuro Lab to further pursue questions of performance and cognition. She believes passionately in the mutually positive possibilities inherent in the intersections of science and art

Research questions: Katherine’s research currently focuses on the duality between reality and pretend in both make-believe play and dramatic practice/performance, and how that duality affects cognitive development. Specifically, she is interested in how drama practices might mutually affect the interlocking systems of Executive Functioning skills and stress/cortisol levels for early elementary students. Her research maintains a particular focus on the potential protective mechanisms in drama for young students who have experienced trauma and/or long-term stress.

Current Study:

LEAP! Learning Executive functioning skills through Applied Play

LEAP is a preschool classroom intervention based on dramatic guided game play. LEAP combines contemporary developmental psychology with children’s inherent propensity for play and the entrenched cultural wisdom of games to specifically target early cognitive skills. The project gathers data on the potential relationship between drama games and cognitive development to better understand both the efficacy of this specific intervention and best practices to support cognitive development in general.


  • American Association for Theatre and Education (AATE): Virtual Conference (2020) The Wisdom of Play: Theatre Games and Executive Function
  • American Educational Research Association (AERA): Toronto, Canada (2019) Chronic stress, cognitive development, and drama: a theoretical proposal
  • University of Wisconsin, Theatre Department Graduate Student Organization Conference (2018) Triadic Interplay: Stress, Executive Functions, and Drama in Education
  • International Association of Theatre for Children and Young People (ASSITEJ) World Conference: Cape Town, South Africa (2017) The Kattaikkuttu Gurukulam: A Model of Integrated Arts Education
  • University of Wisconsin, Madison Graduate Conference on English Language and Literature (2017) Burning the Body: Gnostic Thought in Artaud and Grotowski
  • University of Wisconsin, Theatre Department Graduate Student Organization Conference (2017) Kattaikkuttu: An Ancient Art in Action
  • Kennedy Center American College Theatre Festival (2012) The Myth of Résistance: An Analysis of Anouilh’s Antigone *Received the KCACTF Undergraduate Theatre Scholar award
  • Undergraduate Research Symposium at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (2012) More than a Mirror: An Etymological and Neurological Approach to Empathy in The Theatre *Keynote

Publications: stay tuned…