Student Spotlight: Molly Hale

Molly Hale’s first major exposure to research was during her senior year of high school, when she participated in the Maine State Science Fair. Her experience at the event inspired her to reach out to faculty when she arrived at UMaine, looking for research opportunities. “I feel very lucky that another faculty member steered me toward the Brain Injury, Education and Rehabilitation Lab.” 

In the lab, Hale works with Dr. Jessica Riccardi, Assistant Professor in Communication Sciences and Disorders, studying the relationships between childhood brain injury and adverse childhood experiences. These particular types of experiences “are potentially traumatic events that occur in childhood, such as experiencing or witnessing violence, or aspects of the child’s environment that can undermine their sense of safety, stability, bonding, overall health, and life participation for children under twelve years old.” More specifically, Hale is looking to answer the following two questions: “1) How often do brain injuries and adverse childhood experience coincide, and 2) When considering brain injuries and adverse experiences, what children are at a particularly high risk for worse overall health or poor life participation?”

Hale says she feels incredibly lucky to be working with her faculty mentor. “It has been extremely helpful working closely with Dr. Riccardi because she is so incredibly knowledgeable, so it is great to have someone I feel comfortable going to when I have questions.” Hale says Dr. Riccardi has been able to provide lots of guidance and assistance when working on projects. “As someone who does not have much research experience, all of her experience is extremely helpful.” Hale says “I think everyone should try research at some point to see if it is something they like.”