PEN Alumni

Geo Kartheiser

Geo Kartheiser is the second person in Gallaudet University’s Ph.D. in Educational Neuroscience (PEN) Program to defend his dissertation.

Geo Kartheiser (Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto, Advisor) successfully defended his dissertation, "The Neuroplasticity of Spatial Working Memory in Signed Language Processing” on September 25, 2018.   Geo will be the PEN program’s second doctoral graduate.'


Learn more about Geo's dissertation defense.

Since enrolling in the PEN Program at its inception in Fall 2013, Mr. Kartheiser has been a graduate research assistant in Dr. Petitto’s Brain & Language Laboratory for Neuroimaging (BL2) and a graduate student-scholar in the National Science Foundation-Gallaudet University Science of Learning Center, Visual Language and Visual Learning (VL2).  

While in PEN, he co-authored three peer-reviewed journal publications as well as two book chapters. He also co-authored and presented at 15 national and international scientific meetings, including prestigious invited public science lectures at the University of Hong Kong, and eight peer-reviewed professional presentations around the world.   

Mr. Kartheiser’s research interests center on how experience with a visuospatial language (e.g., American Signed Language) impacts the human brain and its development of visuospatial cognition (e.g., Spatial Working Memory).  

He is certified in the use of fNIRS neuroimaging with infants, children, and adults and in advanced neuroimaging data analyses methods and tools.


He also has participated in pioneering research with Petitto’s BL2 on integrating fNIRS with other state-of-the-art scientific technology (eye tracking and thermal infrared imaging, which measures human attention and emotional engagement) in order to answer new scientific questions about language acquisition and reading development in infants and children with different language experiences.  

Some of this research contributed to Petitto and team’s work to create a revolutionary robot-avatar translational learning tool for young babies who are deprived of early-life exposure to a signed language, called RAVE.