IBACS Summer Graduate Fellows

 
 
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Physiology & Neurobiology
 

Alexandria Battison

Research Interests:

My research fits into IBaCS mission as it is inherently interdisciplinary; combining neuroscience experimental methods with mathematical and computer programming analysis methods. I was fortunate during my undergraduate career to have an interdisciplinary background, and my goal for my graduate work is to continue to bring engineering and physics into my neuroscience dissertation research. Most of my analysis work is taken from biomedical engineering and math and is applied to analyzing cortical firing patterns. I hope to push my research forward and continue to optimize my experimental methods in a way that will pull from physics and engineering.

 
 
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Physiology & Neurobiology
 

Mary Baumgartner

Research Interests:

At its core, my research is focused on understanding the molecular regulatory programs underlying normal cortical development and cortical function. As a result, my research project is intrinsically interdisciplinary, spanning the fields of molecular biology, developmental biology, neuroscience, and behavioral sciences, and initiating extensive collaborations both within and between departments is necessary to answer the questions at the heart of my project. In addition to the broad range of approaches I am employing, a key resource at my disposal is a conditional knockout mouse line, in which I can target a minor spliceosome component for removal in specific tissues. Using this mouse line, I can separately parse out how minor splicing informs cortical development, and how this altered development impacts cortical function, and how minor splicing regulates the function of mature neurons. Subsequent use of comprehensive behavioral testing paradigms can then be used to elucidate whether the functions of specific cortical regions/circuits, such as those underlying attention and motor activity, are differentially sensitive to shifts in minor splicing-controlled gene expression.

 
 
casavant

School of Nursing
 

Sharon Casavant

Research Interests:

My proposed research is investigating the behavioral and epigenetic changes to the serotoninergic system in preterm rat pups who have sustained an experimentally induced hypoxic ischemic (HI) insult. Evidence indicates that SLC6A4, a gene which codes for serotonin transport proteins, undergoes epigenetic change when exposed to specific stressors. These stressors alter the emerging system and may impair cognitive outcomes.Therefore, this study has the potential to improve seritononergic function across the lifespan.

 
 
Pietro-Cerrone
Linguistics

 

Pietro Cerrone

Research Interests:

I conceive my interests in theoretical and experimental Morphology and its interfaces as a part of Cognitive Science. My ultimate goal is to contribute to the understanding of the language faculty and its processing, which requires interdisciplinary work, in particular, with cognitive psychologists and speech perception scientists, and, in general, with scholars whose research deals with how the human brain represents and processes language. I am currently involved in an speech perception and production project with Andrea Calabrese whose goal is to understand how English monolinguals categorize speech sounds of Polish and how they produce them.

 
 
Contreras-2

Psychology
 

Jessicas Contreras

Research Interests:

Jessica is a deaf 1st year doctoral student in developmental psychology. She is interested in neurodiversity and how american sign language contribute to cognitive devopment. She is interesting in how language experience shape cognitive systems such as executive function and number development.

 
 

Ashley

Psychology
 

Ashley Dhaim

Research Interests:

My research is focused on how action in a social context promotes the creation of a social coordination between individuals. I'm interested in how these dynamics change with experience and development between the ages of 3 and 10 years old and what implications they have on the development of higher level social cognition.

 
 

AKIE-FUJITA-PHOTO-ID-smile

BioMedical Engineering & Physiology and Neurobiology
 

Akie Fujita

Research Interests:

My project is directed at characterizing the functional properties of a population of inhibitory neurons in the lateral hypothalamic area. These neurons have been implicated in the control of arousal, reward and feeding but their cellular and circuit-level properties are poorly understood.  Using a combination of electrophysiology, neuroanatomy, optogenetics and behavioral techniques, I will take a multidisciplinary approach to uncovering their electrical and neuromodulatory signatures, anatomical projections and role in homeostatic behavior.

 
 

 rh1 (1)

Linguistics
 

Ryosuke Hattori

Research Interests:

This project uses the Intermodal Preferential Looking task on English-learning children, to seek a support for the “parametric” hypothesis, where positive setting of certain abstract parameters is considered to be prerequisite for two or more related constructions. It is my interest to find out if children’s comprehension level on these related constructions correlates with each other.

 
 

Lu Li photo

Mechanical Engineering
 

Lu Li

Research Interests:

We propose a 3D spatially heterogeneous neural tissue model of cortical motor neuron disease by co-culturing cortical and spinal motor neurons. We develop a bioprinting approach to precisely assemble neuron encapsulating gel blocks into 3D complex co-culture environment, which will offer an innovative system to study the role of target-derived signal on the development of cortical motor neurons in 3D and develop a better understanding of pathogenic mechanisms and identifying therapeutic targets for cortical motor neuron diseases. 

 
 

Andre (1)

Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences
 

Andre Lindsey

Research Interests:

My research is aimed at determining how language interacts with other domains of cognition and to determine how neurological injury affects that interaction. Consistent with the mission IBACS, the goal is a more comprehensive understanding of neurological functioning.

 
 
Maurici2
Psychology

Maurici Lopez-Felip

Research Interests:

My research project focuses on how the context in team sports influences the behavior of actors at both individual and collective-levels. The goals of  this project are 1) to develop a model of multi-agent coordination and 2) to use this model to make testable predictions about player performance as it relates to perception-action and cognitive processes.  In a more advanced stage of the project, we will assess the the model's ability to predict catastrophic events (e.g., injuries, collisions, etc.). 

 
 
Jin Lu
Computer Science and Engineering

Jin Lu

Research Interests:

Schizophrenia and many other mental disorders are associated with impairment of working memory. Recent studies have identified a limited number of regions among which the brain network connectivity modulates working memory. However, other possible regions remain lack of thorough investigation. To build a valid memory model rather than merely correlation analysis, we plan to develop a machine learning approach to analyze brain network connectivity in individuals under different states (rest, n-back) by integrative modeling of fMRI images, EEG signals and cognitive survey variables.

 
 
headshot (1)
Psychology

Monica Ly

Research Interests:

My current and proposed research would bridge clinical psychology and neuroscience, two fields that would gain tremendously from interaction rather than separation. By conducting this translational research, I hope to help set the groundwork for future research using simultaneous EEG-fMRI in topics that were previously limited by the incomplete neural picture provided by a single technique alone. The direct results of this work will help researchers select the system appropriate to their design and goals. The proposed research could incorporate aspects of bioengineering, cognitive neuroscience, neuropsychology, and clinical psychology. I hope to collaborate with faculty in both the clinical and behavioral neuroscience divisions as well as BIRC faculty to integrate their perspectives to evaluate the scope and use of innovative neuroimaging technologies.

 
 

shireena (1)

Psychology
 

Shireena McGee

Research Interests:

I aim to expand my research across traditional interdisciplinary sciences, incorporating research in learning, dynamical systems, education and the brain. I believe these fields are pertinently in-orthogonal in my line of work and must be mutually informative in order to find success in any one endeavor. Innovations in education are hidden in developmental psychology and neuroscience and it is my goal to work towards nurturing these interdisciplinary connections in order to make an impact on the way that the world receives and communicates information in diverse learning contexts.

 

Ashley-Parker

Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences

Ashley Parker

Research Interests:

This project will examine concept formation in children with specific language impairment. The purpose of the study is to examine the dependency of language on the development of concept formation in children. Concept organization is critical in order to understand and identify the things we encounter in the world, and two examples of such organizational structure are taxonomic and thematic categories. The hypothesis is that if concept formation is dependent on language abilities, then we would expect children with SLI to be at a less mature stage of concept formation due to their deficit in language. Our research seeks to find if a shift to a taxonomic preference occurs in children with language impairment, as it does in typically developing school-aged children. If significant differences are found, this study will help us to explain children with language impairment’s delay in language acquisition.

 

perrino (1)

Psychological Sciences

Peter Perrino

Research Interests:

An individual inherits many fundamental processes that form complex cognitive systems that are required for the development of language. It is believed that genetics play a pivotal role in the acquisition and retention of language and disruptions in genetic mechanisms have shown to cause language impairments, as seen in dyslexia and autism. We aim to target specific genes that have been implicated in language disorders and assess the behavioral and neuroanatomical consequences of manipulating the protein products associated with the genes via the use of transgenic mouse models. We can assess these models on various intermediate language phenotypes such as auditory processing and working memory. Following behavioral testing, we can investigate various neural substrates that may be underlying any anomalies observed, to further understand the gene-brain-behavior relationship. With the help of IBACS, the completion of our work will provide valuable insight to our understanding of the biological substrates of atypical language development. Future applications of data could allow for the development of early screening tools to identify at risk individuals as well as more targeted interventions using these genetic and anatomical markers.

 

Rob_Petrosino

Linguistics

Roberto Petrosino

Research Interests:

My current work is looking at ERP response to marked/non-marked and linguistic/non-linguistic sounds. Markedness is a broad concept that encodes how much frequent and complex a cognitive object is. As dealing with such a broad dimension, this project will provide new evidence on the role of markedness in encoding and analyzing sounds, and may ultimately be of broad interest to cognitive scientists working on speech perception across domains.

 
 

Rainer

Communication
 

Adam Rainear

Research Interests:

My proposed research will focus on the factors which would promote safe and proper evacuation behavior in times of weather risks and crises. Using virtual reality, I hope to gain an understanding of what might enhance or impede safe evacuation, examine how new communication tools might influence risk messsage perception, and understand how individuals are processing and considering weather warnings under times of duress.

 

 
 

jenelle

Philosophy
 

Jenelle Salisbury

Research Interests:

My research is centered around the issue of “the unity of consciousness” in philosophy of mind. The current project aims to explore what the neuroscience of information integration in the semantic representation network can bring to bear on this topic. In particular, I am interested in the neural mechanisms underlying information integration (questions such as whether integration requires a hub). This is relevant to explaining the kind of unity required for joint accessibility, and I also aim to explore its relevance to the kind of unity required for joint phenomenology.

 

 
 
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Psychology

Vivi Tecoulesco

Research Interests:

In my research I am using ABRs to measure subcortical responses to and I am also using behavioral measures to map the language learning process. Letty Naigles in Developmental Psychology is my advisor; the goal of our research is to address how children with ASD learn language. She encouraged me to incorporate neural structure and function into my work. To that end I have been working with Erika Skoe to add ABR to my toolbox.
I am really interested in trying to bridge so called lower level subcortical processing with higher level, representational levels of language. In my opinion this is in line with the mission of IBACS. Additionally, as a trainee in the NBL program I am demonstrating my commitment to interdisciplinary work. Affiliating with IBACS with increase my opportunities to find projects to both join and/or initiate that strive to incorporate multiple perspectives as I believe our understanding of the brain and cognitive functioning is extremely more likely in this collaborative environment.
I plan to help the community by being open for collaboration, willingness to discuss my work and that of others, and hopefully doing good science that reflects well on the community.

 

 
 
troha
Psychology

Ryan Troha

Research Interests:

The Connecticut Institute for Brain and Cognitive Sciences places a lot of focus on research integrating different scientific disciplines. I will accomplish this by combining social behavior research with electrophysiology and neurophysiology. Observational learning has been seen in humans, but lacks a behavioral paradigm that can measure this phenomenon in other animals. I am working towards developing such a paradigm which will then allow further investigation into the electrophysiological and neurobiological components underlying this important form of learning.

Given this great opportunity, I will work my hardest to fulfill the Institute’s goals. This means not only working to expand my personal research expertise but to also teach those around me, cross disciplinary boundaries, and promote the Institute’s research activities. I am excited to make the most of this opportunity granted to me by the Institute and take advantage of any chance to learn from others, teach others, and to build the research environment here at the University of Connecticut!

 
 
Wei (2)
Psychology

Yi Wei

Research Interests:

I'm interested in auditory perception and processing in clinical population, particularly people with aphasia. I'm also interested in how auditory perception and processing can be used to help this population in their progress of recovery by innovate/modify/individualize current music therapy techniques.

Linda_Boshans
Physiology & Neurobiology

Linda Boshans

Research Interests:

My research focuses on the neurogenic fate potential of NG2 cells, a type of glial progenitor cell. NG2 cells share a close lineage with interneurons, and through forced expression of a pro-interneuronal transcription factor, NG2 cells can be reprogrammed into neurons. Specifically, I am interested in the genetic and molecular changes that occur to produce the fate switch of NG2 cells into GABAergic neurons.

 
 
brooks
Psychology

Thomas Brooks

Research Interests:

I am interested in the interplay between perception, action, and cognition, particularly with regards to how sensory information creates experience. I like to take classical experimental phenomena (such as bistable perception of the Necker cube) and reconceptualize them as action-driven processes. Currently I'm studying how grasping a cube shaped object in different ways can affect which orientation of Necker cube is seen by a person.

 
 
Iris_Chin
Psychology

Iris Chin

Research Interests:

My research interest is in language acquisition in typically developing children and children with autism spectrum disorder. I focus on four aspects of language acquisition: how do children come to acquire morphosyntax (in terms of its form and its meaning), what types of biases do children have when learning the syntax of their language, how does the acquisition of language impact other areas of cognition (i.e., theory of mind), and how do children learn about the pragmatic use of language.

 
 
Amanda_Coletti
Physiology & Neurobiology

Amanda Coletti

Research Interests:

My research focuses on characterization of stem cell niches in the developing brain. Specifically, I am examining fate decisions of stem cells that promote neurogenesis, ependymogenesis or regeneration, in the case of injury or disease. I am particularly interested in how hydrocephalus affects brain development.

 
 
Charles_Davis
Psychology

Charles Davis

Research Interests:

How is meaning represented in the brain? I am interested in semantic representation in language, and the neural circuits that support these representations. My current work is investigating the representation of abstract concepts, looking at the interaction of semantic and episodic memory in the processing of abstract concepts, and the role of the hippocampus in this relation. I am also interested in the distributed representation of semantic memory across sensorimotor areas of the brain (the extent to which sensory, perceptual, and motor areas are involved in processing language), and how these ideas map onto language creation and, from an evolutionary perspective, non-human communication.

 
 
Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences

Julia Drouin

Research Interests:

I'm interested in speech perception and how listeners map from speech to meaning. That is how is the listener able to take information from the acoustic speech signal and map it onto higher linguistic units, especially given that the acoustic signal is rich in variability. I use behavioral paradigms, electrophysiology, and neuroimaging techniques to examine these questions.

 
 
Zac_Ekves
Psychology

Zak Ekves

Research Interests:

Semantic and episodic memory integration during sentence processing, Event processing and representation, Neural correlates of event processing and semantic/episodic memory integration.

 
 
Katelyn_Gettens
Psychology

Katelyn Gettens

Research Interests:

My research interests lie at the intersection of health psychology, neuropsychology, and neurophysiology. My work focuses on the neuropsychological and neurophysiological underpinnings of health behavior change. My current work examines the relationship between executive functions (verbal fluency, mental flexibility, inhibition, planning, etc.) and weight control among adult populations with overweight and obesity using behavioral, task-based neuropsychological assessment batteries.

 
 
CT IBACS art
Psychology

Roman Goz

Research Interests:

Epileptic spectrum disorders affects millions of people around the world. Related genetic malfunction has been found only for a very small part of those epileptic disorders.Epilepsy might also follow traumatic injury. The changes in electrophysiological properties of neuronal tissue that makes it hyper-excitable, creating a synchronous firing either in a small brain area, or that spreads to multiple brain areas, are still enigma. I'm interested in discovering the answer to that. Understanding what neuronal circuit initiate this synchronous activity, whether there is an origin in a specific cell type is the current goal.

 
 
henry_harrison
Psychology

Henry Harrison

Research Interests:

Visually guided action; behavioral dynamics; action-selection; self-organization; sports science.

 
 
Molecular & Cellular Biology

Kavitha Kannan

Research Interests:

I am interested in studying the molecular mechanisms behind neurodegenerative disease progression using Drosophila melanogaster as a model organism. My current research uses genetic tools available in Drosophila combined with cellular and molecular biology approaches to identify novel genetic modifiers that play key roles in in human neurodegenerative diseases.

 
 
martin_lang
Anthropology

Martin Lang

Research Interests:

My primary interest is ritual and effects of its various components on human behavior. I study effects of music on inter-personal coordination, synchronous movement, decision-making and social bonding. My other research line is focused on understanding the role that ritualized motor sequences might play in alleviating anxiety. I use physiological measurements, motion capture, machine-learning algorithms, and linear and nonlinear data analysis (recurrence quantification analysis).

 
 
Tommy_Lee
Psychology

Tommy Lee

Research Interests:

Tommy Lee is interested in the mechanisms underlying learning and memory in the dorsal and ventral regions of the hippocampus. His research is interdisciplinary—integrating behavior, neuropharmacology, electrophysiology, and computational neuroscience. After completing his Ph.D. and a postdoctoral fellowship, Tommy Lee aspires to be a professor of neuroscience at a research I university to continue his research and teaching.

 
Natasza_marrouch 
Psychology

Natazsa Marrouch

Research Interests:

My primary research focuses on the processing of unpredictability. Building on interdisciplinary postulates from information theory, probability theory, and neurological findings, I explore the role of unpredictability in the formation and persistence of belief systems. To this end I apply a combination of experimental methods, computational modeling, and multilevel analysis of open-source socioeconomic, Geo-spatial data, and individual level data.

 
 
Gabriel_Martinez-Vera
Linguistics

Gabriel Martinez-Vera

Research Interests:

Semantics, Morphosyntax, Syntax-Semantics Interface

 
 
Timothy_Michaels
Psychology

Timothy Michaels

Research Interests:

My research utilizes translational and interdisciplinary methods to examine the neural basis of perceptual and cognitive deficits that underlie serious mental illness. Specifically, I am interested in understanding how attention and working memory impairments relate to psychosis and contribute to the pathophysiology of schizophrenia.

 
 
Glenn_Milton
Molecular & Cellular Biology

Glenn Milton

Research Interests:

We are interested in X chromosome evolution in respect to disease, particularly Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD). As an epigenetics lab, we are interested in the epigenetic environment and the role it plays in gene regulation on the X chromosome. We aim to define the chromatin architecture of an X-linked imprinting control region in mice and to define expression and regulation of an ASD candidate gene in human brain tissue.

 
 
Yanina_Prystauka
Psychology

Yanina Prystauka

Research Interests:

Are brain regions recruited for processing object state changes sensitive to the number of dimensions on which the change occurs? What is the effect of processing identical syntactic structures with different levels of semantic complexity on the working memory load? Do native and L2 speakers have similar mechanisms of morphosyntactic processing? I use converging evidence from psycholinguistics and syntax to study sentence processing and its neural correlates.

 
 
Russell_Richie
Psychology

Russell Ritchie

Research Interests:

My interests include cognitive science most broadly, language more specifically, and most specifically, language dynamics (processing, acquisition, emergence in communities, historical change, evolution in our species). I mostly investigate these dynamics in the lexicon and in prosody, using behavioral and neurophysiological experiments, corpus analysis, and computational modeling. I also maintain interests in data science and natural language processing.

 
 
CT IBACS art
Communication

Brenda Rourke

Research Interests:

My research is broadly focused on information processing in mediated environments for atypical populations. I am specifically interested in cognitive processing differences in mediated learning for individuals with high functioning autism and attention deficit disorders. My work draws from research in education, psychology, communication, telecommunication, engineering, and cognitive science.

 
 
kayleigh_ryherd
Psychology

Kayleigh Ryherd

Research Interests:

I am interested in how an individual’s semantic representations and knowledge about concepts affect their reading comprehension ability. Specifically, I’m interested in poor comprehenders, people who show a specific impairment in language comprehension without problems in word decoding or other more general cognitive processes. I use behavioral and neuroimaging methodologies to try to understand the specific comprehension deficit in this population.

 
 
Garrett_Smith
Psychology

Garrett Smith

Research Interests:

Sentence processing, particularly the effects meaning has on syntactic form; Nonlinear dynamics and self-organization in language and cognition; Computational modeling.