Principal Investigator

   Joseph Dunsmoor | CV


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 |CV 

Sam 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 normative individual differences (e.g., broadband personality dimensions, such as the Big Five) and psychopathology (e.g., PTSD and OCD), 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 methodology at the intersection of experimental and individual differences sciences. He uses a range of measurement modalities and multivariate statistical approaches (e.g., EFA, SEM, mixture models) to support this work. His clinical interests are centered on PTSD and anxiety pathology.  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.

For more Sam, see:

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 graduate student in the Institute for Neuroscience co-advised by Joey Dunsmoor and Jarrod Lewis-Peacock. Gus’s 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 scene.

For more Gus, see:

 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 a PhD student in the Institute of Neuroscience. Nicole’s research interests include, but are not limited to, the opposing roles of reward and fear in human learning and memory. Particularly, the effect of reward on fear extinction. Through the use of psychophysiology and neuroimaging methods, she is investigating how the presence of a reward during fear extinction can enhance the function and efficacy of a safe memory, and further prevent relapse of fearful behaviors. Outside of the lab, she thoroughly enjoys being in the presence of her cat, Ivy, buying plants, and learning French.

                                         Ayesha Nadiadwala |

Ayesha is originally from Pakistan, later settled in California. She received BS in Cognitive Sciences (concentration in Cognitive Neurosciences) along with honors and an Order of Merit from University of California, Irvine, in 2016. Post graduation, she worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator at Stanford University before joining UT Austin’s Neuroscience PhD program. Ayesha is interested in researching how memory processes are influenced by emotion, specifically how memory of when events happened across time is affected by emotional factors. She’ll pursue such questions by leveraging behavioral and neuroimaging techniques under the co-mentorship of Joseph Dunsmoor and Alison Preston. She hopes that some of her research will have clinical implications, especially for PTSD and depression. Ayesha loves animals (especially her two cats!), driving (not in traffic), and trying new adventures.

Research Assistants

Lab Manager/Research Associate


     Sophia Bibb |

Sophia received her BSA in Neuroscience honors with a certificate in Evidence and Inquiry: The Biological Basis of Sensitivity from UT Austin in May of 2021. She has worked as an undergraduate research assistant in the lab since the Summer of 2019 and continues her work in the Dunsmoor lab as the lab manager/research associate. Sophia’s research interests involve the role that temperamental sensitivity plays in how individuals acquire and process trauma, especially PTSD and complex PTSD. She also loves her dog Jersey, making music, and doing dance of virtually any type in her free time. 

Undergraduate Research Assistants

   Olivia Frolichstein 

Olivia is an undergraduate student at UT Austin pursuing a BS in Neuroscience with a minor in Science Communication and a certificate in Social Inequality, Health, and Policy. Her current research interests involve the somatic responses that occur with and as a result of emotional experiences. Olivia hopes to one day utilize research in order to promote mental health education and combat disparities in mental health treatment.

 Eriane Austria |

Eriane is an undergraduate student at UT Austin pursuing a BSA in Neuroscience and a BS in Arts and Entertainment Technologies with an Evidence and Inquiry certificate and a Studio Art minor. She is interested in the neuroscience of problem solving and the relationships between mood and anxiety disorders, emotion regulation, and memory. Eriane also enjoys playing with her dog and learning new recipes and art techniques.

Natasha Muppidi  

Natasha is an undergraduate student at UT Austin pursuing a BS in Psychology on a pre-medical track. Her research interests involve anxiety disorders and how they relate to physiological responses or conditions. In her free time, she loves lifting weights, listening to podcasts, and trying to bake cool things.

  Raymond Truong |

Raymond is an undergraduate student at UT Austin pursuing a BSA in Nutrition with a minor in Business on the pre-medical track. Raymond’s research interests include the implications of psychological disorders (PTSD) on one’s memory and emotions. He gets this inspiration from his military family background as well as his aspirations of working, and serving, with those who suffer from these disorders one day. In his free time, Raymond enjoys watching/participating in E-sports, hiking, and running his own NGO. 


Lab Alumni

   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 is currently pursuing a PhD at UCLA under the mentorship of Dr. Dave Clewett and having all his Zoom meetings on poor internet connections in state parks!

 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. Emily is currently a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Pittsburgh!

  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!

 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.