Kathleen Jagodnik is in the Joint North American-Israel Postdoc Track of the Zuckerman program. She will work both with Harvard Medical School’s Psychology Department (in cooperation with a lab in the Neuroscience division of Massachusetts General Hospital), and with the School of Business Administration at Bar-Ilan University. Dr. Jagodnik is bedbound due to a significant physical disability, so she will work remotely from her home in Cleveland, Ohio for the full period of the fellowship. She believes that working remotely for the past 8 years has permitted her to be the most productive researcher possible.
Her topic is childbirth-associated postpartum post-traumatic stress disorder (CB-PTSD), a significant mental health challenge triggered by traumatic childbirth. It is estimated that more than 23.5 million women worldwide suffer from it every year. Distinct from postpartum depression, CB-PTSD can cause lack of maternal bonding with infants, which has long-term negative psychological consequences for affected children, and can negatively affect subsequent generations. Dr. Jagodnik will identify the numerous social, mental health, obstetric, and infant-related risk factors for CB-PTSD. Using questionnaires administered to a large sample of postpartum women, she will then employ Machine Learning algorithms to analyze their electronic medical records and develop a computational model for identifying women who are at risk. Dr. Jagodnik hopes to eventually create a web application to facilitate improved diagnosis and treatment, since experts believe that PTSD can be effectively treated with early intervention.
Dr. Jagodnik earned a PhD Biomedical Engineering with a specialization in Neural Engineering at Case Western Reserve University. She developed methods for using reinforcement learning with human‑generated rewards to help restore voluntary arm movement to people with high‐level spinal cord injuries who were paralyzed below the neck.
Dr. Jagodnik served as a mentor for underprivileged US and foreign undergraduates applying to graduate school and/or medical school in the US. She has taken dozens of continuing education courses online, and worked on numerous assessment teams, hackathons, committees, and working groups.