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Dr. Rebecca Spencer graduated from the Purdue University Neuroscience graduate program, concentrating in neural control of movement. After graduating from Purdue with a PhD in neuroscience in 2002, she went to UC Berkeley where she was a postdoctoral fellow and research scientist in the Helen Wills Neuroscience Institute until 2008. Her postdoctoral work on neural control of motor sequence learning was funded by an NIH NRSA. Subsequently, she was awarded an NIH Pathways to Independence Award (K99/R00) for studies on the age-related changes in sleep-dependent consolidation of motor learning. 

In 2008, Rebecca joined the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Massachusetts Amherst as an assistant professor and was promoted to associate professor in 2013. Her current work is broadly on the functions of sleep, including topics such as the function of naps for preschool children and the role of age-related changes in sleep on age-related cognitive decline. For this work, she holds two NIH R01 awards and has over 60 publications.