Graduate Spotlight: Anila D’Mello

This month we are spotlighting Anila D’Mello, who received a PhD in Behavior, Cognition, and Neuroscience, Department of Psychology.



Anila D’Mello, PhD

Congratulations on being awarded the Outstanding Scholarship for graduate level work! Could you tell us about your research?

Yes! I am interested in a part of the brain called the cerebellum. This part of the brain was historically thought to be solely involved in motor function. However, it seems like it may play an important role in cognition as well. In particular, my dissertation focused on the role the cerebellum plays in typical and atypical language. We think that the cerebellum might be especially important for predicting what comes next during the course of speech production and comprehension. Predictive language functions are pretty important in conversation and reading and allow for increased speed and fluency. We use a variety of methods to examine the role of this brain structure in language including functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) and neuromodulation.  FMRI allows us to visualize activation in the cerebellum while neuromodulation allows us to modulate cerebellar function to assess it’s role in language. For my dissertation, I applied what we know about the cerebellum and how it contributes to language to language-impaired populations such as individuals with autism spectrum disorders. For example, some work I completed for my Master’s thesis suggested that cerebellar structure might be abnormal in early language-delayed individuals with autism. We hypothesize (and try to test) that impaired cerebellar function might contribute to the early language delays we see in autism. The project has been incredibly interesting and rewarding. Many language researchers ignore the cerebellum all-together and so there is a lot to be done!

How did you become interested in this research?

I have always been interested in autism spectrum disorders. As an undergraduate at Georgetown University, I worked with young children with autism who were preverbal. These kids were very language delayed and some of them didn’t speak at all. For my graduate studies, I was interested in learning more about the neural basis of autism. It turns out that the cerebellum is one of the most consistent sites of abnormality in autism. That got me interested in Dr. Catherine Stoodley’s research. Dr. Stoodley studies the cognitive cerebellum and the contribution of the cerebellum to neurodevelopmental disorders such as autism, ADHD, and dyslexia.  

What has been the most challenging part of being a graduate student?

Quite honestly, being a graduate student has been incredibly rewarding. It’s an incredible opportunity to get to study something you are passionate about as a career. That said, it can be challenging to balance doing research while also writing it up for publication, presenting at conferences, and TAing. Sometimes things pile up! However, the faculty at AU (and my mentor, Dr. Stoodley) have been incredibly supportive. They make it easy to focus on the research while still getting everything else done.

What are your future plans?

I hope to continue to study the neural basis of language and neurodevelopmental disorders. Short-term, I’m leaving AU to start a post-doctoral position in Dr. John Gabrieli’s group at MIT. My future goals are to get additional training as a post-doctoral associate and eventually secure a faculty position where I can do research while teaching undergraduate and graduate students about neuroscience.

Posted in Student Stoplight, Uncategorized

Understanding Cayuse SP Roles and Permissions


Joe Gesa, Electronic Research Administrator

The ability to view information and execute certain tasks within the Cayuse SP software is dependent on the variety of user and/or administrative roles one could have assigned to them, as well as two different access levels.


At the most basic level are those people who are known simply as, Users. These are people like PIs and project team members who only require access to individual Cayuse SP Proposal and Award records where they are named, or proposal records which they created.

Being named on a proposal record supplies users with the following:

  • Write access to the proposal record before routing.
  • Read access to the proposal record during and after routing.
  • Read access to the award, project, account(s), subcontract(s), and proposal record(s).

Unit Admins

Unit Admins such as the Chair, Dean, or unit level Research Administrators can view unit records and take actions on them based on their specific role.  These roles are:

  • IPF Approver – This is an individual designated with signing authority to review and approve proposals on behalf of his or her department.
  • Pre-Award Spending Approver – is an individual designated with signing authority to review and approve Pre-Award Spending Requests. Pre-Award Spending Requests for a proposal can be prepared and submitted electronically in Cayuse SP.
  • Research Account Manager – is an individual designated as the departmental contact person to receive research-related correspondence via email for dissemination to appropriate departmental personnel.
  • Role Manager – is an individual designated by the Dean or Department Head to add and remove roles for departmental personnel within Research Contacts. Initially, a system administrator must assign the Role Manager, but thereafter the Role Manager has the ability to add and remove roles at any time on his or her department’s behalf. The Role Manager maintains his or her department’s Research Contacts listing, including updating it as department personnel or job responsibilities change. If you have been assigned the Role Manager responsibilities, please see the “viewing and Managing Assigned Role” section under “Role Management” located in the Research Contacts support guide on the Evisions Support website

Access Levels

  •  Proposal Data Access – provides access to those proposals where the assigned department is named, through the “Proposals in My Department” dashboard. With this access one can view the proposal, its Internal Processing Forms (IPF), view associated attachments; copy the proposal; and prepare a Pre-Award Spending Request for the proposal.
  • Award Data Access – View departmental award data contained in Cayuse SP through the “Awards in My Department” dashboard.


Posted in Uncategorized

Cayuse SP Summer Training Dates


Cayuse SP training is being offered this summer. Training will be held from 10-11:30 am on all dates listed below.

Monday, June 5
KSB Classroom T58

Wednesday, June 14
KSB Classroom T58

Tuesday, July 11
KSB Classroom T58

Wednesday, July 26
KSB Classroom T58

Wednesday, August 2
KSB Classroom T60

Wednesday, August 16
KSB Classroom T58



Posted in Training, Uncategorized

Research Administration for the AU Investigator Pilot Program


Link to the course: 

Posted in Training, Uncategorized

April Research Awards

In April 2017 (FY 2017), the Office of Sponsored Programs recorded the following grants for American University researchers.

PI: Ulysses Sofia
College of Arts and Sciences-Physics
Title: Investigations in Astrobiology: The Origins of Water and Pre-Biotic Organics
Sponsor: National Aeronautics and Space Administration – NASA
Funds: $152,905.00

PI: Anastasia Snelling
College of Arts and Sciences-SETH
Title: Healthy Schoolhouse 2.0 Teachers and Parents Working Together to Improve Student Health
Sponsor: U.S. Department of Agriculture
Funds: $900,000.00

PI: Anastasia Snelling
College of Arts and Sciences-SETH
Title: Nutrition and Physical Fitness Bureau (NPFB) – Survey Instrument Design Training
Sponsor: District of Columbia Department of Health
Funds: $9,679.00

PI: Cristel Russell
Kogod School of Business-Marketing
Title: E-cigarette marketing and influences on youth
Sponsor: Institut National Du Cancer
Funds: $30,000.00

PI: Charles R. Lewis
School of Communication-Investigative Reporting Workshop
Title: General Operating Support
Sponsor: Democracy Fund
Funds: $500,000.00

PI: Christopher Palmer
School of Communication-Center for Environmental Filmmaking
Title: Program Support
Sponsor: Wallace Genetic Foundation, Inc.
Funds: $50,000.00

PI: Nora Bensahel
School of International Service
Title: Adaptation Under Fire
Sponsor: Smith Richardson Foundation
Funds: $150,000.00

PI: Kim A. Ball
School of Public Affairs
Title: Project to Collaborate with Legal Aid to Support Public Programs
Sponsor: Public Welfare Foundation
Funds: $50,000.00

PI: Diane Singerman
School of Public Affairs-Government
Title: Urbanism in the Middle East and North Africa: The Regional and the Local
Sponsor: Ford Foundation
Funds: $700,000.00

Posted in Awards, Uncategorized

Upcoming Events


Pivot Training
Wednesday, July 5
11 am/SVB 318

Cayuse SP Training  
Tuesday, July 11
10-11:30 am
KSB Classroom T58

GAR Meeting
Friday, June 23
10-11:30 am/ SVB 603

Cayuse SP Training  
Wednesday, July 26
10-11:30 am
KSB Classroom T58

Cayuse SP Training  
Wednesday, August 2
10-11:30 am
KSB Classroom T60

Pivot Training
Wednesday, August 2
11 am/SVB 318

Cayuse SP Training  
Wednesday, August 16
10-11:30 am
KSB Classroom T58


Posted in Events | Tagged , ,

Best Practices in Developing Federal Grant Proposals

On May 15, the American University Library held a Conference for High-Impact Research. One of the sessions focused on “Best Practices in Developing Federal Grant Proposals. ” In this session, grant evaluators from major funding agencies gave an inside look in a panel discussion moderated by Jim Casey from the Office of Sponsored Programs. Presenters discussed how to create stand-out grant applications and avoid pitfalls.

Below are the PowerPoint presentations from the panel discussions.

Angela Wilson, Director of the Division of Chemistry, National Science Foundation

Thomas Vollberg, Chief, Scientific Review Branch, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, National Institutes of Health

Claudia Kinkela, Senior Program Officer, National Endowment for the Humanities


Posted in Events, Research in the News, Uncategorized