Principal Investigator

   Joseph Dunsmoor | CV

Post-Docs

 Emily Leiker | CV   

Emily earned her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Missouri in 2017, where she investigated how memory content and quality are instantiated in the brain during the act of remembering, using EEG, fMRI, and advanced pattern classification methods. After completing her degree, Emily worked as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow for the Center for Neurobehavioral Research at Boys Town National Research Hospital, where she contributed to a large-scale longitudinal neuroimaging study of emotion cognition interactions in youth with diverse behavioral and emotional problems and psychopathology. Her research interests include understanding how the brain gives rise to vivid, emotional, and intense memory retrieval experiences, especially in individuals with mood or anxiety disorders. She is also interested in individual variability in mental imagery, attention, and emotional processing, and how these contribute to perceptually or emotionally vivid or intense memories.

Carola Savli |CV   

Carola received her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology, Linguistics, and Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of Milano-Bicocca where she began studying the neural mechanisms underlying creativity. Carola worked as a postdoctoral fellow at Northwestern University and the Shirley Ryan AbilityLab in Chicago, where she narrowed her interest to studying idea generation, specifically insight problem-solving (the “Aha!” moment). Carola’s work aims to understand the following: the role played by reward (and the dopamine system) in creativity and insight problem-solving; the involvement of the vision system in idea generation; and the role of the right anterior temporal area when people have creative insights. Carola contributed to pioneering the “accuracy effect” associated with “Aha!” moments, demonstrating that the feeling of certainty that accompanies creative ideas is warranted by high accuracy. Her work counts the first Italian versions of the Compound Remote Associates problems and the Rebus Puzzles, enabling researchers to investigate the insight problem among Italian speakers. She has experience working with TBI, Parkinson’s and neglect patients, and has mastered several techniques of research such as eye-tracking, imaging, and brain stimulation.

Sam Cooper |

Sam is a clinical psychologist and completed his PhD in the Clinical Science and Psychopathology Research Program at the University of Minnesota under the mentorship of Dr. Shmuel Lissek. He is interested in the interactions between fear and avoidance processes and how potentially maladaptive manifestations of these processes (e.g., overgeneralization) relate to both normative individual differences (e.g., broadband personality dimensions, such as the Big Five) and psychopathology (e.g., PTSD), with a goal of leveraging this work to inform etiological accounts of and interventions for anxiety and trauma-related psychopathology. Sam is also interested in improving the methodology used in studies at the intersection of experimental and individual differences sciences, and has received training in a range of measurement modalities (e.g., psychophysiological assessment, eye-tracking, cognitive testing) and multivariate statistical approaches (e.g., MLM, EFA) to support his work in this area. His clinical interests are centered on PTSD and anxiety pathology, and he completed his predoctoral clinical internship within the VA Maryland Healthcare System, with a focus on psychotherapy for PTSD and psychological assessment.  Sam is a New Yorker both in terms of origin and temperament, and his hobbies include judo, amateur freshwater fishkeeping, and discussing obscure sports and John Wick trivia.

Graduate Students

Gus Hennings | 

Gus Hennings graduated with honors with a B.S. in Neuroscience and a B.A. in Hispanic studies from The College of William and Mary in 2016. There he worked with Dr. Robert Barnet and successfully completed an honors thesis titled “Light-Enhanced Startle as an Experimental Model of Withdrawal”. Gus is a second year graduate student in the Institute for Neuroscience co-advised by Joey Dunsmoor and Jarrod Lewis-Peacock. Gus’ research is focused on the emotional regulation of episodic memory, as well as developing advanced fMRI techniques designed to counteract negative emotional experiences. In his free time, he plays with his dog and contributes to Austin’s open mic epidemic.

Posters: CNS in Boston, Spring 2018

 Nicole Keller | 

Nicole Keller, a Costa Rican native, received her Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and a Business Foundations Certificate at the University of Texas at Austin. She is now a first year PhD student in the Institute of Neuroscience. Nicole’s research interests include, but are not limited to, the role of learning and memory in mental disorders. She thoroughly enjoys being in the presence of her cat, Ivy, and taking inspirational photos of her.

Research Assistants

   Mason McClay | 

Mason McClay received his BS from Centre College in Behavioral Neuroscience and a BA in Classical Studies in 2017. Mason’s research interests involve emotion regulation and the flexibility of self-identity and their implications on memory. Mason plans to pursue a PhD in the coming year if he doesn’t become a famous poet first.

 Carly Hatchell |

Carly Hatchell received her Bachelor of Science in Biomedical Engineering and a Business Foundation Certificate from the University of Texas at Austin in 2018. Carly’s research interests include PTSD and the role of early emotional or traumatic experiences in learning and development. She grew up in the Netherlands, and she is passionate about mental health, meditation, science, and her cat, Mr. FitzLokerton McMeowMeow.

Undergraduate Students

Sophia Toprac | 

Sophia Toprac is an undergraduate Neuroscience, Psychology, and Plan II major who is planning to pursue a PhD to study the causes and effects of common mental disorders like depression and anxiety. In her free time, she enjoys knitting extremely misshapen scarves and watching Vin Diesel movies.

Lab Alumni

  Jarid Goodman | 

Jarid Goodman held a post-doctoral research associate in the laboratory of Joseph Dunsmoor at the University of Texas at Austin from 2017-2018. Jarid received his PhD in Neuroscience at Texas A&M University in 2016 and has previously served as a postdoctoral research scientist in the laboratory of Christa McIntyre at the University of Texas in Dallas. His research interests include the neurobiology of multiple memory systems and emotional modulation of memory. He is now assistant professor of Psychology at Delaware State University!