Student Spotlight: Christina Mulcahy Discusses Her Early Math Work and Mentoring Experience at Curry

Christina Mulcahy
3rd year Ph.D student in the Education Psychology-Applied Developmental Science (EP-ADS) program at the Curry School of Education, a researcher at CASTL, and a VEST pre-doctoral fellow.
Hometown: Amesbury, Massachusetts


Question: Why did you choose the Curry School of Education?

Mulcahy: After receiving my bachelors from the University of North Carolina as a double major in psychology and Spanish, I worked for a number of years in research on young children's math learning. I really enjoyed this work and wanted to continue, so I started looking at graduate schools in educational psychology. I was initially drawn to Curry because of the early childhood work that faculty were doing here and how well it aligned with my interests of children's early cognitive development, executive function and math learning. When I spoke with the faculty at CASTL, they immediately made me feel welcomed, and it seemed like an excellent fit for what I wanted to do long term. Plus, the VEST fellowship was a great opportunity because of all the research support and professional opportunities.

Question: How has the Curry School influenced you?

Mulcahy: Being a member of the Curry community is really inspiring to be around all these new ideas and people who are doing such interesting work, it pushes my interests in lots of new ways. For example, when I first started as a grad student I was really focused more on children's early academic development. But by being around the researchers at CASTL, I've started to think about other things that are affecting children's learning, like their socioemotional development, the classroom environment, etc. All of this research is happening at Curry, and it has been a major influence on my initial research interests.

Question: What research are you currently working on?

Mulcahy: I'm just finishing up working on the MyTeachingPartner Math-Science Project. I've been working on that research since I got to grad school, and it's been really cool to see the project finish up where we are in the analysis and writing phase. In terms of my own work, I'm just starting a new paper where I want to examine how children's executive function interacts with the classroom instruction they're receiving to affect their math learning. I've always been interested in early math, but now I'm able to examine other factors in the classroom and children's own characteristics.

Question: What has been the most rewarding part of your program?

Mulcahy: A number of aspects of training at Curry have been very rewarding for me so far. First, I have had a hands-on role in many different research projects and have been able to be a part of really meaningful work that is directly affecting classrooms. Second, I have access to so many great resources, and faculty have really helped me develop as a researcher in terms of my methodology, thinking and writing. Finally, in terms of the VEST fellowship, I'm very grateful for the speakers and topnotch researchers we get to interact with. It is a really special opportunity to engage one on one with important faculty in the field and this is something I would not have got in other programs.

Mulcahy is a doctoral student in the EP-ADS program and a fellow in the Virginia Education Sciences Training (VEST), a pre-doctoral fellowship program funded by the U.S. Department of Education Institute of Education Sciences. She also is a researcher at the Center for the Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning (CASTL).