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 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 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 (e.g., psychophysiological assessment, eye-tracking, cognitive testing) and multivariate statistical approaches (e.g., MLM, EFA, SEM) 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.

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’ 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 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.

                                         Ayesha Nadiadwala |

Ayesha is originally from Pakistan, later settled in California. She received B.S 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 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.