• Talia Waltzer
  • Talia Waltzer
  • School of Arts and Sciences '15
  • Major(s): Psychology and Cognitive Science
  • Minor(s): Spanish

Activities: Psychology research; NSF REU; Volunteering with The Collaborative Center; Study abroad in Perú

What attracted you to Rutgers University and the Honors/Scholars Program?
Rutgers is an excellent research university with strong academics. As a state school, it offers great opportunities to learn from world-class leaders in cognitive science, philosophy, physics, medicine, and more. I was honored to receive the generous Ethel and Abe Herman Scholarship from Douglass College, offering full-tuition support for my four years at Rutgers. With such a strong state school, a generous scholarship, and being able to commute from home, Rutgers was the ideal choice for me.

Why did you choose your major and minor?
I loved Psychology, Cognitive Science, and Spanish since high school and was excited to keep studying them.

Tell us a little bit about what you're doing now. What was your first job after Rutgers? Where you do you live? What was your first job after Rutgers? Where you do you live?
After graduating from Rutgers in 2015, I began a PhD program studying Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. There, I developed a line of research examining youth and adults' moral development and decision-making. In my day-to-day life, I read academic literature, conduct studies, analyze data, write and present my work to academic and general audiences, and mentor students. I live in the greater San Francisco bay area in California.

What has been your greatest professional and/or personal accomplishment since you graduated from Rutgers?
Personally, the most amazing thing that happened to me was receiving a Postdoctoral Research Fellowship from the National Science Foundation (NSF). After applying for dozens of grants and funding opportunities, it was incredible to receive this award. I will be working on my project, studying dishonesty in adolescence, from 2022-2024.

Was there a class and/or experience at Rutgers that led you to pursuing your current career?
Working as a research assistant in two Psychology labs: the Cognitive Development Lab (supervised by Dr. Alan Leslie) and the Human Development Lab (supervised by Drs. Judith Hudson and Estelle Mayhew). Attending incredible classes taught by Drs. Larry Temkin, Stephen Stich, Julien Musolino, and others.

What three words describe your experience at Rutgers and the Honors/Scholars Program? 
Rigorous. Exciting. Fulfilling.

How has your Rutgers and Honors education benefited you in your post-Rutgers life?
Generous support from Douglass College and the SAS Honors Program helped me achieve so many things that would have otherwise not been possible. Thanks to this support, I could attend academic conferences, study abroad, pursue an honors thesis, and dedicate myself to my studies. The intimate classes offered by the Honors Program and the Cognitive Science program also helped me connect with Rutgers faculty and discover my love for studying the puzzles of how the world works. These experiences have truly shaped who I am today as a scholar. Without them, I would not have been able to pursue this academic path.

What advice do you have for our current SAS Honors Program students?
Get to know the incredible faculty you have access to while you are a Rutgers student. They have so much specific expertise and general wisdom. It is part of their job to be a resource to you. Don't feel like you are imposing; it's their responsibility to be there for students. After you leave Rutgers, you will not have this kind of opportunity again.

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