Starlie Belnap

Degree: Ph.D. in Psychology

College/School: School of Integrated Science and Humanity, College of Arts, Sciences & Education

Star Belnap put her education on hold to start her family and raise her three sons. As her boys grew up, Star finished her bachelor’s degree in Idaho. At 38 years old, she moved her family across the country to study at FIU.

Star was driven to understand the unknowable. She wanted to see how the time a child spent in their mother’s womb affects motor coordination after birth. So, she turned to quail for answers.

As the small game birds developed behind their protective eggshell, Star could ethically control their exposure to movement, light, temperature and sound. The insights Star gained from these tiny birds will inform additional research on mammals and could one day provide insights into how the movement, language, cognitive ability and school readiness of children are all influenced by their nine months in the womb.

Pursuing her doctoral degree and conducting this research was a balancing act. In her first conversation with psychology professors Robert Lickliter and Eliza Nelson, Star made one thing clear: family comes first.

At FIU, Star trained 25 undergraduate researchers to help with parts of her research. At home, she focused on her children until they went to bed and she could study some more. Sundays were for family.

Just two months before commencement, Star, 43, accepted a clinical research administrator position at Baptist Health. She is applying what she learned at FIU to help improve outcomes for people who have had strokes, epilepsy or spinal injuries.

By Chrystian Tejedor
Account Manager
College of Arts, Sciences & Education