Laura Thomas

Professional Background

After I graduated from the Dept. of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke, I completed a postdoctoral fellowship in clinical neuroscience at the National Institute of Mental Health, where I conducted neuroimaging studies investigating emotion processing in children with severe mood disorders. I then became a Scientific Technical Writer for Dr. Nora Volkow at the National Institute of Drug Abuse, where I wrote scientific manuscripts and technical reports, and provided expert technical advice to NIDA Leadership. I was then a Research Health Scientist at the War Related Illness and Injury Study Center at VA Medical Center in Washington, DC. While there, I directed and managed neuropsychological, neuroscientific, and clinical intervention research to advance knowledge about the impact of combat on emotion, cognition, and social behavior in Veterans. I recently moved back to Durham and took a position as a Scientific Review Officer in the Division of Extramural Research and Training at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, where I help plan and run NIH grant study sections.

How has being a P&N graduate helped shape your professional success?

I consider the scientific communication skills I learned at Duke to be invaluable. Giving so many talks/brownbags/lectures prepared me immensely for not only job talks, but lab meetings, as well as informal and formal talks at meetings, teaching a college course, etc. All of the writing I conducted as a graduate student has also helped my career. Not only manuscript writing, but also writing and having knowledge of IRBs, grants, etc. My scientific communication skills as a whole improved dramatically during my five years as a graduate student in the Psychology and Neuroscience Department at Duke. While my path post-graduation may not be typical, every step of the way scientific communication has been at the forefront of what I have had to do, which is true of my current position as a Scientific Review Officer as well. The scientific communication skills you are learning now are translational and will help you no matter what career path you take.

Year & Degree: 
2007, PhD
Professional Title: 
Scientific Review Officer
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, National Institutes of Health