Carnegie Mellon University

Graduate Students

Emefa Akwayena

Emefa Akwayena

Graduate Student, Psychology

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Research Interest: I am interested in the underlying neural mechanisms and anatomical structures of patients with various neurological disorders. I plan to study brain mapping and neuroimaging techniques to gather detailed, personalized perspectives on structure and function.

Advisor: Brad Mahon

Raouf Belkhir

Raouf Belkhir

Graduate Student, Psychology

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

I’m interested in spatial and temporal dynamics of language organization in the brain and intra-operative picture naming tasks in awake neurosurgical patients.

Advisor: Brad Mahon

Jenah  Black

Jenah Black

Graduate Student, Psychology

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Research Interest: Jenah is a PhD student working jointly with Drs. Lori Holt and Bonnie Nozari. She completed her M.S. in Psychology at Villanova University in 2021, working under Dr. Joe Toscano. Previously, she completed her B.A. in Psychology and Linguistics at the University of Iowa. Jenah is currently focused on examining how abstract knowledge about a discourse or an event influences low-level acoustic processing. When she’s not in the lab, you can usually find her indulging in her ferocious coffee habit, going on a power walk, or enjoying some quiet time with her two cats, Edmund and Sunny.

Advisor: Lori Holt & Bonnie Nozari

 

Krista Bond

Krista Bond

Graduate Student, Psychology

  • 436 Wing Baker Hall
Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Even given sparse and ambiguous teaching signals, learners can extract statistical structure to form flexible representations, enabling them to quickly solve novel problems. I want to develop biologically constrained models of behavior to clarify how inductive inference informs adaptive action selection. I’m also interested in curiosity-driven exploration.

Advisor: Tim Verstynen

Julia Conti

Julia Conti

Graduate Student, Psychology

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Research Interests: A conversation about surrealist art takes an immense amount of abstract thought, from recognizing how bizarre an elephant can look to the language that allows us to do so. But what do these processes have in common? I am interested in the underlying mechanism that allows for such cognition, how we attained it, and whether non-human species can do the same.

Advisor: Jessica Cantlon

Abhishek Dedhe

Abhishek Dedhe

Graduate Student, Psychology

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

I am curious about the brain structures and algorithms involved in abstract thought, more specifically: mathematical cognition. I hope to use behavioural, cognitive neuroscience and computational methods to tackle these issues. More broadly speaking, I am interested in the intersection of the brain sciences, philosophy, and education.

Advisor: Jessica Cantlon

Phoebe Dinh

Phoebe Dinh

Graduate Student, Psychology

  • 455 Wing Baker Hall
Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Research on causal cognition has been splintered along methodological lines with different experimental designs and explanatory foci. As a result, theories of causal concepts and cognition diverge, yet their divergence is better explained by differences in research methodologies than by empirical distinctions. Moreover, there is often little continuity between developmental research of causal cognition with infants and young children, and behavioral research with adults. In my research program, I hope to develop an overarching theoretical framework to specify the mechanisms, processes, and representations with which humans learn about causation that bridge across these different theoretical spaces, and across the developmental timeline. In a separate but relevant line of research, I investigate the role of mechanism information in people’s judgments of novel causal events.

Advisors: David Rakison

Cassondra Eng

Cassondra Eng

Graduate Student, Psychology

  • 455 Wing Baker Hall
Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

I am interested in attentional processes and the corresponding brain behavior associations.  I am particularly interested in selective sustained attention as a foundation for efficient information processing capabilities in childhood, and the role attention plays in the acquisition of new knowledge.

Pierre Gianferrara

Pierre Gianferrara

Graduate Student, Psychology

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

My main research goal is to uncover the neural and cognitive mechanisms of motor skill acquisition. To do so, I chose to focus my research on the roles of action timing and sensorimotor synchronization in video game learning. My end goal is to develop better computational models that would be applicable in the realm of human-computer interaction and robotics.

Advisor: John Anderson

Michael Granovetter

Michael Granovetter

Graduate Student, Psychology

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

I study the neural mechanisms underlying perceptual processing, with a long-term interest in understanding how these mechanisms are disrupted in individuals with neurodevelopmental and/or neurological disorders. I am currently researching neural and behavioral changes in pediatric patients undergoing cortical resection for seizure treatment to probe underlying mechanisms of neuroplasticity.

Advisor: Marlene Behrmann

Alana Hodson

Alana Hodson

, Cognitive Neuroscience

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

My research interests are in executive function, hearing loss, and speech comprehension. My area is cognitive science.

Advisor: Lori Holt & Barbara Shinn-Cunningham

Fiona Horner

Fiona Horner

Graduate Student, Psychology

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

I am interested in the factors that impact one's ability to cope with stress and chronic illness. Specifically, my research focuses on how communal coping, positive affect, and meaning and purpose impact health outcomes and adjustment to chronic illness. I have related interests in understanding individual and cultural differences that determine how people respond to stress and disease. 

Advisor: Vicki Helgeson

Emily Keebler

Emily Keebler

Graduate Student, Psychology

  • 455 Wing Baker Hall
Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

I am interested in the development of attention regulation and in applying this knowledge to educational domains.  I work collaboratively to understand performance on a task developed to measure Selective Sustained Attention in young children, the TrackIt paradigm, and additionally use that paradigm to probe the interplay of sustained attention with other cognitive systems.  For these projects, I consider children's accuracy, patterns of errors, and eye gaze.  My interest in the study of sustained attention has highlighted several conceptual and measurement issues in this construct.  I am working to analyze the designs, outcome measures, and patterns of performance of existing tasks of attention as these relate to the constructs of sustained attention and (separately) inhibition. I also serve as a Teaching Assistant for undergraduate psychology courses including Principles in Child Development and Research Methods in Developmental Psychology. 

To complement my training in the psychology department, I am involved in two ongoing program assessments in Dietrich College of Humanities and Social Sciences.  First, as a graduate assessment fellow on the Dietrich College Assessment Committee (Fall 2019, Spring 2020), I focused on program-level assessment of the college’s Statistical Thinking learning outcome.  As well, I am collaborating with a staff member from the Eberly Center for Teaching Excellence & Educational Innovation to lead program assessment of oral communication, a subset of the college's Communication learning outcome. These opportunities allow me to apply learning from my participation in the Program for Interdisciplinary Education Research and to leverage my previous teaching experience.

Lakshmi Kumar

Lakshmi Kumar

Graduate Student, Psychology

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

I am interested in the environmental and social risk factors of alcohol use and addiction. In particular, I am interested in looking at mechanisms and pathways that link empathy and alcohol use and alcohol problems.

Advisor: Kasey Creswell

Austin Luor

Austin Luor

Graduate Student, Cognitive Neuroscience

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

My research interests is focused on understanding the role of perceptual training in language acquisition and auditory attention in speech processing. I am also interested in exploring the sensory and cognitive factors that contribute to spoken language processing.

Advisor: Lori Holt & Barbara Shinn-Cunningham

Timothy Murphy

Timothy Murphy

Graduate Student, Psychology

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

My research interests revolve around the learning processes involved in speech and reading, particularly in how the learning of speech sounds impacts future reading aptitude. Ultimately, I hope to develop techniques which can identify how reading abnormalities specific to an individual arise.

Advisor:  Lori Holt

Jeanean Naqvi

Jeanean Naqvi

Graduate Student, Psychology

  • 455 Wing Baker Hall
Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

My research interests center around the relationship between patients with a chronic physical illness (e.g. diabetes, cancer) and their spouses. I am most interested in how couples cope with and adjust to chronic illness as a unit, with particular attention to cultural differences among racial groups.

Advisor: Vicki Helgeson

Kimberly  Nestor

Kimberly Nestor

Graduate Student, Psychology

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Research Interest: My research interests lie at the intersection between computational neuroscience and computational psychiatry. I am interested in structural and functional cognitive changes in the human brain in neurotypical and psychiatric populations. More specifically, I hope to construct predictive algorithms using a data driven approach based on neuroimaging to aid in the diagnosis and treatment of psychiatric disorders with an emphasis on psychotic disorders.

Advisor: Timothy Verstynen

Chisom Obasih

Chisom Obasih

Graduate Student, Cognitive Neuroscience

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

My research interests in the field of auditory neuroscience concern speech perception, specifically category learning and auditory selective attention, and how these relate to second language acquisition.

Advisor: Lori Holt & Barbara Shinn-Cunningham

Urszula Oszczapinska

Urszula Oszczapinska

Graduate Student, Cognitive Neuroscience

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

My research interests broadly encompass examining the interactions, and relationships between modalities. More specifically, I am curious about the role of attention in cross-modal relationships that include auditory perception, and real life implications (e.g., vehicle warning systems) such interplay holds.

Advisor: Laurie Heller

Sophia Robert

Sophia Robert

Graduate Student, Cognitive Neuroscience

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

How does our brain use visual information to perform complex tasks, like instantly recognizing objects, with high accuracy even in dynamic environments? And how does this impressive ability relate to how the human brain is functionally organized? In my research, I used behavioral, neuroimaging, and artificial intelligence methods to understand the neural and computational principles that drive the functional organization of visual cortex.

Advisors: Marlene Behrmann and Michael Tarr

Yang Seow

Yang Terng (Roderick) Seow

Graduate Student, Psychology

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

What are the mechanisms underlying higher order cognitive processes such as skill acquisition and the transfer of skills between tasks?  To investigate these questions, I construct and analyze computational models under the Adaptive Control of Thought - Rational (ACT-R) cognitive architecture.

Advisor: John Anderson

Patience Stevens

Patience Stevens

Graduate Student, Psychology

  • 455 Wing Bakaer Hall
Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

I study how words are processed and represented during reading, and how these cognitive functions are acquired over the course of learning to read

Advisor: David Plaut

Robert Vargas

Robert Vargas

Graduate Student, Psychology

  • 455 Wing Baker Hall
Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

My research aims to explore the structure of human knowledge representations by examining the semantic similarity of individual concepts based on their neural similarity. I am curious how these relationships between concepts could then be used to define underlying semantic primitives and their organization in the brain.

Megan Waller

Megan Waller

Graduate Student, Psychology

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

I'm studying the role of social interaction with caregivers in the development of communication and social cognition.

Advisor: Daniel Yurovsky

Yuxi Xie

Yuxi Xie

Graduate Student, Psychology

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

I’m particularly interested in understanding the effects of support-seeking, support-provision, and emotion regulation on personal and relational well-being. I also aim to develop psychosocial interventions that are designed to promote more positive support-seeking and support-provision behaviors in close relationships.

Advisor: Brooke Feeney

Asal  Yunusova

Asal Yunusova

Graduate Student, Psychology

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

Research Interests: Broadly I am interested in mind-body interventions and protective biopsychosocial factors that aid in positive health outcomes in populations coping with chronic health conditions. More specifically, I am interested in the mind-gut connection and investigating interventions (i.e., mindfulness meditation) and factors (i.e., emotional validation) that can improve well-being in patients with gastrointestinal disorders.

Advisor: David Creswell

Yuchen Zhou

Yuchen Zhou

Graduate Student, Psychology

Address
5000 Forbes Avenue
Pittsburgh, PA 15213

I am generally interested in using computational models (Bayesian statistics and machine learning methods) to study concept acquisition and inference in kids and adults.

Specifically, current research aims to explore the alignment of multi-modality conceptual systems. 

Advisor: Daniel Yurovsky