Danielle Cosme

Doctoral Candidate, Psychology

Danielle Cosme is a doctoral student in psychology, researching how we pursue our goals and how to create healthier habits. Cosme began her academic career at Chapman University where she received a bachelor’s degree in psychobiology. After graduation, she took a gap year and traveled to Europe where she met her husband and decided to move to Stockholm, Sweden. While there, she earned a master’s degree in psychology from Stockholm University, completing her coursework in Swedish.

Cosme knew early on in her studies that she wanted to pursue research as a career, but her unexpected detour in Sweden gave her time to think more about her path. “It gave me a great opportunity to reassess and then, by the time I was ready for doctoral studies, I felt very committed to my research,” says Cosme.

Cosme decided to return to the United States to pursue her doctoral studies. She came to UO and worked as a lab manager for a year before entering her current doctoral program.

As a researcher, Cosme has been able to contribute a significant amount of work during her time at UO. During her first year, she worked with one of her advisors, Jennifer Pfeifer, to write a grant proposal for a project about the transition to college and substance use. The proposal was accepted and the work is being included in Cosme’s dissertation. She has also had the opportunity to present her work at conferences, including giving a Jacobs Foundation International Young Scholar talk at the meeting on Social Neuroscience Perspectives in Child Development.

On top of her research, Cosme has collaborated with her colleagues and students to help improve the structure and efficiency of the labs she’s worked in. She has also mentored several students. Alongside her own research and data analysis, Comse says seeing undergraduates work with their own data and find their spark of interest is one of the most exciting parts of her experience.

And her advisors have noticed.

Pfiefer, a professor of psychology, and Elliot Berkman, associate professor of psychology, raved about Cosme in a joint nomination for their student, writing: “Simply put, Dani is outstanding – likely the very best doctoral student we have ever worked with. Dani is not only passionate about research but also cares about having a broader impact on the world around her.”

After she completes her doctoral program, Cosme plans to continue developing her research through a postdoctoral position. She hopes to learn complimentary data analysis methods to expand her research toolkit. Ultimately, she wants to find a position that will allow her to combine her passions for research and mentorship.

Helping people achieve their goals

Cosme’s research focuses on better understanding how we pursue our goals and how engaging in certain activities can help create healthy behaviors. Her work combines both psychology and neurobiology to understand the process an individual goes through and to create interventions for healthier behaviors.

For her dissertation, Cosme is looking at the transition into college, and how autonomy and self-regulation effect behavior. She hopes to use her findings to create interventions, including an educational program, to support students entering college and be able to identify those who may need additional support.

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