"The human mind is the most tantalizing of the world's curiosities," Caroline Trofatter believes. "Though composed of the same basic elements as dirt and stars, it is a complex of chemicals and tissue capable of perceiving and interpreting the world—and of being changed by that perception." She looks forward to teaching this class with the UChicago Immersion program all year. The immersive nature of the course means she gets to focus all her energy on engaging with students, crafting an answer to her favorite of the big picture questions: what makes us who we are?
"I feel very strongly that the academic pursuit of an issue isn't just about determining answers and explanations—it's also very much about developing inquiries and approaches. The forum of this course is ideal because it goes so far beyond a typical classroom environment, integrating experimental design and hands-on experience working with children to answer empirical questions. I think this process fosters an applied understanding of the material that could never be deduced from a textbook or lecture alone."
Her own research focuses on the nature of the interaction between verbal and non-verbal cues during communication. She is especially interested in how children use speech and gesture differently over time as they develop into adult speakers, and what individual differences might reveal about this process.