Leilani Forby, a PhD student in the cognitive science stream of psychology, was recently named a Public Scholar at UBC. The Public Scholars Initiative (PSI) was established by UBC Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies to support UBC doctoral students who aim to make meaningful contributions to the public good through collaborative, action-oriented, and/or creative forms of scholarship in their dissertation work.
“Being a Public Scholar means being part of a network of scholars whose research aims to benefit the public in many creative and wonderful ways. For me in particular, it means building relationships with autistic communities, collecting their input on my research, documenting their lived experiences, and sharing what is learned with them, their networks of support, and beyond.”
Leilani completed her BA at the University of Colorado at Boulder, and worked in the film industry after graduation. She returned to academia to complete an MA in clinical psychology at Pepperdine University in California, followed by an MA at the University of British Columbia in cognitive science, where she is now completing her PhD. In her research, Leilani explores the nature and content of mind wandering in individuals high in autistic traits. She is particularly passionate about learning what mind wandering in autistic individuals might reveal in terms of their goals, concerns, and overall mental health. Her research will include a documentary that explores what autistic individuals think about when they mind wander.
Leilani is a member of the Brain, Attention, and Reality Lab, led by UBC Psychology Professor Dr. Alan Kingstone. Leilani has worked on a number of studies at the lab, and describes her research interests as including social attention, social skills deficits, autism, and mind wandering.
Leilani joined UBC Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies for a Q&A, where she discusses her research, how she hopes to connect her PhD work with her career goals, and how her work contributes to the greater public good.