Graduate Student Affiliates

Photo of Mohammad Amin

Psychological Sciences

Mohammad Amin Saraei

Research Interests:

Cognitive science of religion and spirituality

CT IBACS art

Kinesiology

Nidhi Amonkar

Research Interests:

My perspective of physio is that prevention is better than cure. My aim is to target the pediatric population and incorporate a healthy lifestyle and raise the awareness of physical fitness from a very young age such that they become better and stronger individuals. I am especially interested in studying the development & growth of individuals with neuro-developmental disabilities such as Autism, Cerebral Palsy, Down syndrome, etc. and how we as PT's can be helpful to them in order to improve.

 

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Physiology & Neurobiology

William Armstrong

Research Interests:

I am interested in the molecular mechanisms that govern synaptic connectivity and their downstream behavioral contributions. To study this I am using a combination quantitative neuroanatomy, gene expression analysis and electrophysiology to examine the molecular machinery governing complex behavioral responses mediated by orexin neurons the mammalian lateral hypothalamic area.

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Pharmaceutical Sciences

Christopher Babigian

Research Interests:

I am interested in investigating epigenetic mechanisms involved in substance use disorders, and the development of epigenetic pharmacotherapies.

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Psychological Sciences

Cynthia Boo

Research Interests:

Broadly, I am interested in the pragmatic language abilities of children with autism spectrum disorder (ASD), with a particular emphasis on their narrative abilities. I investigate how certain linguistic devices (i.e., discourse markers, pronouns, general all-purpose verbs) play a role in children with ASD’s construction of narratives. Additionally, I am interested in the role of the language sampling context and its associated social, cognitive, and linguistic demands.

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Psychological Sciences

Hayes Brenner

Research Interests:

I am interested in modeling the process of rhythm entrainment (i.e. individuals syncing up to a musical beat) using nonlinear oscillation dynamics. I am further interested in looking at meaningful differences in rhythm perception between those with ASD and those who are neurotypical, and using that information to refine music therapy applications.

Psychological Sciences

Becca Canale

Research Interests:

My research interests broadly include language and communication in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). More broadly, I’m interested in the neural underpinnings of language processing and learning, including statistical learning, and the impact of individual differences on these cognitive processes.

Photo of Renee Chasse

Psychological Sciences

Renee Chasse

Research Interests:

My research interests lie in the behavioral outcomes (anxiety, depression, cognitive impairments, etc.) of various transgenic mouse models. My goal is to help advance the understanding of phenotypic characteristics in new developments of murine genetic engineering.

 

Photo of Kaidi Chen

Literatures, Cultures & Langauges

Kaidi Chen

Research Interests:

My research interests are broadly at the intersection of bilingualism and second language acquisition, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, and language pedagogy. I work on speech perception and specifically the interplay of bottom-up acoustic cues and top-down contextual cues on both native and non-native speech. I am also passionate in applying experimental findings to develop real-world pedagogical innovations.

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Communication

Ye Chen

Research Interests:

My research generally looks into the social-psychological and cognitive underpinnings in the use of new digital technologies for communication, information seeking and consumer behaviors. Specifically, I'm interested in using interdisciplinary methods from social-psychology, neuro and cognitive science to tap into people's inner drives and mechanisms for social media and internet activities engagement. Also, I'm interested in computational techniques for dynamic network analysis.

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Psychological Sciences - PAC-E

Megan Chiovaro

Research Interests:

My primary research interests are in collective intelligence and social dynamics. Focusing on social systems of invertebrates, I hope to bridge the gap between insect and human behavior using dynamical systems modeling. I am particularly involved in the study of emergent hive behaviors that result from micro-level individualistic laws.

Alex Clonan

Engineering

Alex Clonan

Research Interests:

My research interest is based on using computational methods to interpret the brain. Specifically, I am interested in using biologically inspired models to understand the cognitive processing of the auditory system. I am additionally interested in machine learning applications, physiological data processing, clinical diagnostics, and the biological basis of neuropsychiatric disorder.

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.

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Psychological Sciences

James Conners

Research Interests:

I explore heart-rate variability as a measure of whole-body health, including its bi-directional role in managing what have traditionally been thought of as separate "top-down" and "bottom-up" processing systems (c.f., Thayer and Lane, 2000; Park and Thayer, 2014). Delineating how the mutilfractal structure of HRV entails adaptive responses to contexts may prove invaluable for advancing our understanding of resilience, adaptivity, and whole-body health (Goldberger et al. 2002).

Photo of Jeffrey Crawford

Psychological Sciences

Jeffrey Crawford

Research Interests:

I'm interested in understanding the neural underpinnings of deficits in different domains of cognition in clinical disorders. Specifically, I want to research how sensory perception is integrated by our mind and how that perception can be altered by interference from external and internal stimuli. I am hopeful that this research can lead to the identification of biomarkers that can help better identify disorders such as schizophrenia and autism.

Psychological Sciences

Anne Marie Crinnion

Research Interests:

I am interested in the types of information that people use to understand the sounds of speech, and whether different people rely on different sources of information. I use behavioral, computational and neural methods to study these questions.

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Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences

Shawn Cummings

Research Interests:

I’m fascinated by speech perception –the way we extract discrete, meaningful units from a messy, transient, and variable acoustic signal. I’m particularly interested in the mechanisms by which we adapt in perception and production of speech to account for variability; my current research examines causal inference herein.

Psychological Sciences

Luiza de Melo Carvalho

Research Interests:

Bilingualism, language and cognition, neural network for reading, literacy development.

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Molecular & Cell Biology

Katelyn DeNegre

Research Interests:

Presently, I am interested in studying the function of 3 imprinted genes on the mouse X chromosome. These genes are known to be imprinted in the brain and highly expressed in reproductive tissues. I am interested in further understanding their roles in neurodevelopment, behavior, and reproduction.

Ashley

Psychological Sciences

Ashley Dhaim

Research Interests:

Interpersonal Coordination and Synchrony, Developmental Social Motor Behavior, Dynamical System Theories, Development of Coordinated Movements, Time Series Analysis, Embodied Cognition, Self-Organization

Photo of Alev Ecevitoglu

Behavioral Neuroscience

Alev Ecevitoglu

Research Interests:

Depression, Parkinson's disease, stress, motivational dysfunction, dopaminergic pathways, pharmacology.

Photo of Will Fan

Physiology & Neurobiology

Will Fan

Research Interests:

Central noradrenergic neurons are transiently activated when animals react to behaviorally-relevant stimuli. I'm currently trying to understand how norepinephrine release influences the integration of external stimuli into adaptive behavioral responses. To this end, I use in vivo calcium imaging and optogenetics to monitor and control specific circuits in behaving mice. My research may provide some insight into the basis of motivational deficits.

Psychological Sciences

Amanda Fording

Research Interests:

We know that at any point in development social connectedness between parent and child is very important to child cognitive growth. Yet at any point throughout development there is variability in how parent and child coordinate their attention. I am interested in how parent visual and manual attention directs child behavior at the moment-to-moment scale, supporting processes such as attention, exploration, and language acquisition.

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Statistics

Garrett Frady

Research Interests:

Implement Bayesian strategies for variable (or feature) selection when the covariates (and parameters) of interest have both spatial and temporal structures. Fit local Bayesian models using different prior distributions in the presence of high dimensionality in the covariate structure. Conducting binary classification using proposed threshold methods based on the selected prior. Model selection comparing the choice of prior in variable selection performance.

Psychological Sciences

P. Adrian Frazier

Research Interests:

I am interested in perceiving-acting systems, the thermodynamics underlying those systems, and how it is that such systems adapt to changes in the context of constraints during goal directed activities. Further, I worry about fundamentals, such as intentionality, normativity, and the emergence of goals, as well as philosophy of science.

Expertise: R/RStudio; Markdown/LaTeX; Matlab; ggplot/plotly; multilevel/growth curve modeling; detrended fluctuation analysis; psychopy

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Human Development and Family Sciences 

Emily Fritzson

Research Interests:

My research interests revolve around the health and well-being of individuals with chronic illness and their loved ones. I am specifically interested in how stress, adjustment, and coping influence psychosocial and physical outcomes in this population.

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Statistics

Lucas da Cunha Godoy

Research Interests:

Spatial Statistics - Data Visualization - Statistical Computing

Photo of Caitrin Hall

Psychological Sciences

Caitrin Hall

Research Interests:

My research explores social dynamics, interpersonal coordination, and group synchronization. I'm interested in how environmental and social contexts modulate behavior and health outcomes. Through my work I aim to bridge our understanding of individuals and collective structures, with a specific focus on intergroup relations and systems of oppression.

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Psychological Sciences

Andrew Henreid

Research Interests:

I am chiefly interested in the cognitive systems that shape human decision-making, especially in the contexts of health care and public health. The goal of my research is to incorporate theories of psychology and cognitive science to investigate the role of attention, perception, motivation, and intelligence (human & machine) in behavioral processes across multiple disciplines.

Photo of Julianna Herman

Physiology & Neurobiology

Julianna Herman

Research Interests:

I am interested in how disease impacts early brain development. My current work addresses how maternal illness affects a stem cell niche in the brain of developing embryos, and how this modulates the neural stem cell functions of neurogenesis and ependymogenesis along the lateral ventricle surface. I am mainly focused on how the ependymogenesis-neurogenesis relationship changes in cases of post infectious fetal-onset hydrocephalus.

 

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Human Development and Family Sciences

Abagail Horton

Research Interests:

My research interests include the interface of brain development, and social and emotional skills (e.g., emotion regulation) with "negative" (e.g., victimization, bully/victim relations) child and adolescent peer relationships and interactions.

 

Philosophy

Robin Jenkins

Research Interests:

My main interests are in formal semantics and pragmatics, philosophy of language, and logic. In particular, I am interested in how natural language represents agency, action, and normativity. A natural consequence of these interests mean more broadly I am interested in modality, aspect and tense.

Website

Photo of Maggie Khuu

Physiology and Neurobiology

Maggie Khuu

Research Interests:

I am interested in understanding how disordered breathing can affect key neurological processes. My current research focuses on examining the functional role of CO2/H+ activated hypothalamic neurons and its relationship to brainstem respiratory centers to control and regulate breathing.

Photo of Nathan Lautz

Psychological Sciences

 

Nathan Lautz

Research Interests:

Nathan Lautz studies the neurocognitive basis of concepts. He’s interested in how conceptual knowledge comes to be grounded through experience in the world, with at least some aspects of meaning consequently stored in corresponding sensorimotor and affective systems in the brain. His research addresses how this grounding affects the format and content of mental representation.

Kaya LeGrand

Psychological Sciences

 

Kaya LeGrand

Research Interests:

I study language development in people on the autism spectrum. My current work focuses on verb production in autistic children. More generally, I'm interested in studying the language and communication abilities of low/minimally verbal and non-speaking autistic individuals, with the ultimate goal of contributing to our understanding of why some people do not learn to produce language.

Photo of Wesley Leong
Psychological Sciences

Wesley Leong

Research Interests:

I am interested in how the brain makes sense of events that it experiences through language. I am primarily interested in what our brains do that allows us to mentally represent participants and actions in these events, and how that may differ from events that we experience first-hand. I address these questions using a combination of behavioral, neuroimaging, and computational techniques.

Website

UConn Health

Cindy Li

Research Interests:

I am interested in the role of an ion channel-enzyme ("chanzyme") called TRPM7 in cardiovascular diseases, including but not limited to ischemic stroke, atherosclerosis, aneurysm, myocardial infarction, ischemia-reperfusion injury, etc. Particular focus on the role of TRPM7 in such chronic diseases from an inflammation perspective.

Photo of Jie Luo
Psychological Sciences

Jie Luo

Research Interests:

My research interests include neural mechanisms of reading development and the neural signatures of successful reading instruction/learning intervention outcomes. I want to bridge the gap between educational practice and cognitive neuroscience and hopes it will eventually benefit individuals with neurodevelopmental disorders.

Website

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English

Kelly Mahaffy

Research Interests:

My research focuses on the intersections of cognition and literature. Specifically, I focus on empathy, theory of mind, and embodied experiences in multiple genres and forms. I focus on questions like "What about the graphic novel prompts experiences of empathy or practices of theory of mind differently than prose?" and "How and why can some readers embody the experience of characters while reading?" My work uses a combination of literary theory, cognitive science and psychology, and aesthetics.

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Psychological Sciences

Steven Masi

Research Interests:

My research interests focus on the interaction of phenomena traditionally categorized as perception, cognition, and action.

Photo of Hannah Mechtenberg

Psychological Sciences

Hannah Mechtenberg

Research Interests:

My research interests are concerned with the intersection of language and analogical reasoning, and the implications for education. I am especially interested in how psycholinguistic properties of words may factor into verbal analogical reasoning mechanisms, and how this may manifest behaviorally and neutrally.

Gabrielle Michel

Psychological Sciences

Gabrielle Michel

Research Interests:

I am interested in social communication and sensory processing in autism spectrum disorder (ASD). My current research aims to understand grapheme-color synesthesia in ASD, which is the ability to associate letters and numbers with colors. The other line of my research focuses on accessible and parent-mediated early interventions for ASD, as well as how interventions predict later outcomes in language abilities and the presence of co-occurring conditions.

Photo of Jairo Orea

Physiology & Neurobiology

Jairo Orea

Research Interests:

I am interested in the neuroanatomical basis of learning and memory, and specifically how synaptic circuits are reorganized when emotional memories are formed. I aim to study the fine functional anatomy of canonical and non-canonical sensory inputs to the lateral amygdala and their involvement in auditory fear learning using rodent models.

Photo of Aliyar Ozercan

Philosophy

Aliyar Ozercan

Research Interests:

Aliyar’s interests are in Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Mind, and Neuropsychology. He has worked on distinguishing speaker reference from audience reference. As his current research focuses on the neural activity of encoding and decoding representations, his overall aim is to develop a unified and robust theory to explain the whole processes involved in conversation -- from constructing, storing, and accessing representations to transferring and creating stimuli.

Photo of Emily Parrish-Mulliken

Physiology and Neurobiology

Emily Parrish-Mulliken

Research Interests:

I am interested in the spine apparatus and studying morphological alterations to this structure in response to Pavlovian fear learning. To accomplish this, I use light-level and electron microscopy.

Photo of Madeline Quam

Psychological Sciences

Madeline Quam

Research Interests:

I am interested in language emergence and development, particularly with regard to homesigners (deaf individuals who do not have access to signed or spoken language input and innovate gesture systems to communicate with the hearing people around them). I am also interested in how language exposure can affect math knowledge and performance.

 

Photo of Gianna Raimondi

Physiology & Neurobiology

Gianna Raimondi

Research Interests:

We are interested in understanding circuit representations of fear learning and safety, specifically synaptic reorganization as a result of the formation of emotional memories. Anxiety is known to fluctuate over the female reproductive cycle, and our long-term goal is to understand the effects of the natural hormone cyclicity on anxiety circuitry in the female rat brain.

Website

Philosophy

Kaley Rittichier

Research Interests:

I am interested in the cognitive role and epistemic value of different forms of natural language. A particular interest of mine is story form including how formal/computational systems can interpret it. This connects to my broader interest in how AI can serve or harm us epistemically.

Psychological Sciences

Aleksandra Rusowicz

Research Interests:

Why do some people want to dominate others? Why do some oppose intergroup equality while others support it? Most importantly, how can we promote social tolerance and justice? I want to answer these questions by integrating social psychology, political science, and neuroscience. I aim to ground my research in intergroup relations theory and sociopolitical history to ensure that it benefits systemically marginalized communities.

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Institute of Material Science

Usman Salahuddin

Research Interests:

Brain machine interfaces, Brain computer interfaces, Micro-electrodes and nano-materials related to the development of efficient micro-electrodes.

jenelle

Philosophy

Jenelle Salisbury

Research Interests:

I am primarily interested in the unity of consciousness and how the neuroscience of information-integration can inform philosophical theories on the unity of consciousness. Relatedly I am interested in the issue of "interpretation."

 

Naomi Sellers

Psychological Sciences

Naomi Sellers

Research Interests:

I am interested in how the brain forms and sends predictions during language processing and the effects they might have on functions like speech comprehension and error detection. Moreover, I want to study how the ability to predict and the effects of prediction on language processing might vary across individuals, both across healthy individuals as well as in those with acquired language disorders.

Pharmaceutical Sciences

Afshin Seyednejad

Research Interests:

The Sartor lab utilizes behavioral, pharmacological, epigenetic, and cell type-specific analyses to investigate the neurobiological mechanisms underlying substance use disorder. My projects revolve around the role of coding and non-coding RNA in the neuroadaptations that drive or accompany cocaine use disorder.

Photo of Vaishnavi Shahane

Kinesiology

Vaishnavi Shahane

Research Interests:

Infant and child development, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Cerebral Palsy, Down Syndrome, Pediatric Physiotherapy, Pediatric rehabilitation, Novel movement-based interventions for children with developmental disabilities, Assistive technologies and aids to empower children with disabilities

 

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Educational Psychology

Kristin Simmers

Research Interests:

I am interested in researching how and to what extent knowledge from the interdisciplinary field of Mind, Brain and Education science (MBE) impacts novice or pre-service teachers’ beliefs, attitudes and actions. This could lead to further research into specific MBE teacher education opportunities and subsequent changes in teacher efficacy and/or learner outcomes

 

IBACS Art in Grey

Psychological Sciences 

Skyler Sklenarik

Research Interests:

My research to date has focused on the cognitive processes underlying both substance and behavioral addictions. I have designed multiple Approach-Avoidance Tasks to examine automatic approach biases for different addictive stimuli, which contribute to the maintenance of addictive behaviors. I am interested in developing cognitive bias modification interventions to restructure maladaptive cognitive processes, and in turn, reduce real-life, problematic behaviors.

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Biomedical Engineering

Andrew Slater

Research Interests:

We are working with Firefighter technology that will help firefighter in the following areas: pairing - allows firefighters to better stay connected; targeting - enables firefighters to better find a target location; evacuation - enables firefighter to better find the route out to safety.

Music

Kimberly Soby

Research Interests:

My work seeks to understand the relationship between gender and musical creativity, with specific regards to cognitive perception as applied to aesthetic musical values.

Photo of Louisa Suting

Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

Louisa Suting

Research Interests:

I am a certified Speech Language Pathologist and a doctoral student with a passion for improving the treatment outcomes in individuals with aphasia. I believe we can achieve this by identifying ecologically valid measures to assess language recovery and discovering objective biomarkers to personalize treatment for individuals with aphasia.

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Psychological Sciences

Gray Thomas

Research Interests:

My research interests focus on meaningful interactions, the consequences of conflict in conversations and how to mitigate them with interpersonal synchronous interventions, and also reframing how we understand prospective memory from an ecological dynamic perspective.

troha
Psychological Sciences

Ryan Troha

Research Interests:

Learning through the observation of others is an essential skill to surviving and thriving in one’s environment. I am interested in the neuronal mechanisms underlying this form of social learning in animals. What brain areas mediate this form of learning? How might these areas differ in people with social learning deficits?

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Psychological Sciences

Olivia Vanegas

Research Interests:

While opioids are the gold standard prescription analgesics for chronic pain, they are highly addictive and the leading cause of overdose deaths in the United States. My work investigates the therapeutic efficacy of minor phytocannabinoids and terpenes in mouse models of chronic pain, anxiety, and depression while screening these compounds for dependence potential and abuse liability. My goal is to identify less-addictive pharmacotherapies for pain and related mental health disorders.

Photo of Martina Villa
Psychological Sciences

Martina Villa

Research Interests:

Reading is a complex cognitive function for which the brain is not congenitally wired, yet reading disabilities have a probable genetic causation. I am interested in using cutting edge techniques to integrate multimodal neuroimaging data to better study the relationship between genetics and reading (dis)abilities as mediated by the brain.

Photo of Emma Wing

Psychological Sciences

Emma Wing

Research Interests:

I work on the mapping between morphosyntax and the mental representation of events in which objects change state. I am interested in how grammatical categories (e.g., tense, aspect, participles, etc.) activate the content of event representations during sentence comprehension, and how this content changes depending on the syntactic environment.

Psychological Sciences

Tyler Wrenn

Research Interests:

My research interests at UConn are in behavioral neuroscience, specifically observational learning in rat models. I'm interested in the possible patterns and factors that influence optimal learning in a given observational learning task such as rats learning best from the same species of rat or a different species.

IBACS Art in Grey
Statistics

Shiying Xiao

Research Interests:

Network analysis, national economic accounting, input-output analysis, applied econometrics, macroeconomic statistical analysis.

Educational Psychology

Lihong Xie

Research Interests:

I am currently a first-year doctoral student and works as a graduate assistant in the Giftedness, Creativity, and Talent Development program. My research interest lies in creative thinking development in the classroom, gifted women and creativity in cross-cultural settings.

Developmental Psychology

Menghan Yang

Research Interests:

Partial word learning under referential ambiguity; nature of partial knowledge and semantic representation; semantic network constructed from low informative environment.

IBACS Art in Grey
 
Statistics

Katherine Zavez

Research Interests:

I am interested developing new techniques in statistics for dealing with incomplete data in different contexts.


 
Biomedical Engineering
 

Xu Zhang

Research Interests:

I study the mechanisms and novel ways of electrical neurostimulation for treatment of neuropsychiatric diseases from a computational perspective. Specifically, I am working on the cerebellar involvement in parkinson's disease and essential tremor, and how deep brain stimulation could improve such conditions. I am also interested in ultrasonic neurostimulation as an alternative approach to modulate neural activities.

Photo of Yuan Zhang
 Human Development & Family Sciences

Yuan Zhang

Research Interests:

My research interests are on parent-child relationships, acculturative stress, and identity development in immigrant families, especially Asian immigrant families. My research projects have included how parent involvement influences Asian adolescents’ academic performance; the relation between parental behavior and adolescents’ ethnic identity development; and how acculturative stress and parent-child acculturation gaps affect the behavioral and cognitive development of Asian children.