Victoria Merritt, Ph.D.

Practice Location and type (i.e., private practice, medical center, combined, etc.)
I am currently a Research Health Scientist at the VA San Diego Healthcare System and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of California San Diego.

Please tell us about your professional practice (patient population seen, research or teaching interests, other service activities)
Research: My program of research focuses on delineating the multitude of risk and protective factors associated with clinical outcome and recovery following traumatic brain injury (TBI). More specifically, my research aims to identify factors that influence or predict the presence of post-concussion symptoms and neuropsychiatric distress following brain injury in the context of both sports-related concussion and military TBI. I have focused additional research efforts on studying the neurocognitive consequences of TBI/concussion and have an interest in better understanding the biological underpinnings of post-injury neuropsychological dysfunction. Moreover, I am interested in elucidating the acute and chronic effects of TBI across the lifespan by incorporating the tools and techniques of biological markers such as genetics in order to study the processes that underlie recovery following TBI. 

Service: I have been actively involved with NAN since 2012. I served as a student volunteer at the annual conference for several years, was the student volunteer coordinator, and was a student representative on the Program Committee. I also served as a member of NAN’s Student & Postdoctoral Resident Committee and the Publications Committee. More recently, I participated in the 2019-2020 NAN LEAD Program and I am currently the Poster Chair Elect on the Program Committee. 

What activities do you enjoy outside of work? (e.g. hobbies, leisure activities)
I enjoy spending time with family and friends (including my Doodle, Gus!), going to breweries and wineries in San Diego and surrounding areas, live music, a competitive game night, and traveling. 

Why did you join NAN (e.g., I joined NAN for online continuing education opportunities, to network, etc.)
I initially joined NAN as a student/trainee for the educational opportunities at the annual conference. After attending my first conference, though, it was evident that NAN was a very “student friendly” organization and offered many opportunities for students/trainees to present their own work and to network with professionals in field, and this solidified my interest in NAN! Now, as an early career neuropsychologist, I continue to be a NAN member because of the outstanding scientific programming (and continuing education opportunities) offered at the annual conference, volunteer and leadership opportunities, and networking. 

Do you have any advice to offer or anything else you’d like to add? (e.g. advice for trainees, dealing with telehealth during COVID 19, etc.)
Advice for Trainees: Get involved in professional organizations early and often! As I reflect back on my “trainee years,” I can truly say that getting involved in NAN early on in my training had a significant impact on my professional development. In addition to learning more about the profession and being able to contribute to the organization through volunteer work, being involved in NAN afforded the opportunity to work with, and get to know, so many wonderful neuropsychology colleagues across the country. I understand that as a trainee, it can be difficult to decide which conferences to attend and which professional organizations to join; with that said, I highly encourage you to check out NAN!

Matt Thompson, Psy.D.

Professionally: 

I am a clinical neuropsychologist at Children’s of Alabama.   I completed my internship and post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.  Within the Behavioral Health department here at Children’s Hospital, I perform neuropsychological evaluations with children who present with traumatic brain injury (TBI), epilepsy, spina bifida, and other neurological conditions. Much of my work involves our epilepsy surgery program, as well as our rehabilitation program.  Here at Children’s of Alabama, which is on the University of Alabama – Birmingham (UAB) campus, I also supervise doctoral students and interns who have an interest in pediatric neuropsychology.  I try to use some of my time for research, often with students, and my primary research interests involve epilepsy.

Personally:

Outside of work, I have three daughters and enjoy spending as much time as possible with them.  I enjoy music, sports, and fishing.  I try to get back to Louisiana (I previously worked at Children’s Hospital in New Orleans) as often as possible to fish, as well as cheer for the Saints! I am on the board of directors for an orphanage/foster placement agency in Honduras, and I enjoy serving this population of children and trying to empower caregivers in this region to care for their children, many of whom have a history of trauma.

Why I joined NAN: 

I initially joined NAN as a student and enjoyed attending conferences with fellow students.  I have maintained my membership to take advantage of the educational opportunities and conferences.  My advice for trainees and/or younger members of our field, is to seek out as many varied experiences as possible during the early years of practice.  Try to work with as many different supervisors as possible and form close friendships with your fellow trainees.  I still rely on the friends I made during training for advice and support.