Dr. Kristina Visscher Named Associate Director of the University of Alabama at Birmingham Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute

Valerie PatmintraBrain Health, Cognitive Aging, News

On January 1, 2023 the Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute (MBI) at the University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) announced Kristina Visscher, Ph.D. as its new Associate Director. Dr. Visscher is an Associate Professor in the UAB Department of Neurobiology and holds additional leadership roles, including Co-Director, Civitan International Neuroimaging Laboratory and Associate Director for Outreach, Comprehensive Neuroscience Center (CNC).

Following two post-doctoral positions at Brandeis and Harvard Universities, Kristina came to UAB in 2009 as an Assistant Professor and was promoted to Associate Professor with tenure in 2017. She completed her Ph.D. in Biological and Biomedical Sciences at Washington University in Saint Louis (WUSTL) in 2004.

Dr. Visscher’s research interests in cognitive neuroscience include investigating how the human brain can process the same environmental inputs in different ways at different time points. Her research uses psychophysics and tracking of eye movements, functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI), and electroencephalography. Dr. Visscher also investigates how people’s experiences may change with the aging process, with special emphasis on adaptation to loss of vision in older adults.

Dr. Visscher has received funding as a Principal Investigator from the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke/National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Dana (Charles A.) Foundation, Inc., National Eye Institute/NIH, Fight for Sight, Inc., and others.

Dr. Visscher has also been supported by the McKnight Brain Research Foundation (MBRF) to help characterize the brains of healthy agers, as part of the McKnight Brain Aging Registry (MBAR), a consortium of the four McKnight Brain Institutes at UAB, University of Arizona, University of Florida, and University of Miami. The first paper using the MBAR complete dataset, “Validity of the NIH toolbox cognitive battery in a healthy oldest-old 85+ sample” was published last year by the Journal of the International Neuropsychological Society. Dr. Visscher has also been published in ScienceNature NeuroscienceCerebral CortexBMC MedicineNeuropsychopharmacology, among many other major, peer-reviewed journals. 

Dr. Visscher also actively engages in mentorship. Her lab members include post-doctoral fellows and graduate and undergraduate trainees. She is involved in the UAB Neuroscience Roadmap Scholars Program, which aims to provide the necessary tools that will enhance engagement and retention of underrepresented graduate trainees in the neuroscience workforce.

Dr. Visscher also promotes community outreach initiatives to help improve diversity in neuroscience. She has been a long-term faculty organizer for UAB’s Brain Awareness Week, an initiative where graduate and undergraduate students plan activities to educate the community on the brain and brain health. As a result of her commitment to diversity and inclusion, Dr. Visscher was recognized with the UAB 2022 President’s Diversity Champion Award.

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