WMP Lab Dinner with friends 2016


From left: John Feri, Minnie Wu, Shafee Mohammed, Chelsea Parlett, Emily Sumner, Mariela Rivas, Jacky Au, Robert Kalinowski, Jason Jones (with Jimmy), Masha Jones, Nancy Tsai, Grace Lin, Jaymes Rombaoa, Ben Gibson, Cathy Tran, Desiree Rodriguez

WMP Lab 2015

Lab 2015

From left: Robert Kalinowski, Snigdha Kamarsu, Nancy Tsai, Jacky Au, Shafee Mohammed, Martin Buschkuehl, Susanne Jaeggi, Chelsea Parlett, Grace Lin, Chus Maraver, Masha Jones, Minnie Wu (& Jimmy).

Jaeggi Susanne2014_smallSusanne M. Jaeggi, Ph.D.
Principal Investigator

Susanne Jaeggi  (read: /ˈyakee/) grew up in a tiny village 5,407 ft above sea level in the mountains of Switzerland. She found her way down to Bern, where she completed her Ph.D.s in Psychology and Neuroscience. She later moved to Ann Arbor to expand her horizon as a Post-Doc at the University of Michigan, before joining the Department of Psychology and the Program in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science (NACS) at the University of Maryland as an Assistant Professor.  She is now an Associate Professor at the UCI School of Education where she directs the Working Memory and Plasticity Laboratory. She also has a courtesy appointment in the Department of Cognitive Sciences, and is a Fellow at the UCI Center for the Neurobiology of Learning and Memory. As a Cognitive Neuroscientist and Experimental Psychologist, she has a broad interest in general processes of working memory and related higher cognitive functions, and within that domain, the investigation of cognitive training and transfer is one of her current major foci of research. She strives to determine what training regimens and training conditions result in the best transfer effects, investigate the underlying neural and cognitive mechanisms, and finally, investigate for what populations and individuals cognitive training is most effective.

jacky - smallJacky Au, M.S.
Graduate Student

Jacky Au is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow in the Cognitive Sciences PhD program. His interests surround the nature and enhancement of brain plasticity, including the use of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and computerized training of targeted cognitive processes such as working memory. His current focus combines his two interests by evaluating the enhancement of cognitive training benefits using tDCS.

Link to Jacky’s personal webpage

MashaMasha Jones, B.A.
Graduate Student

Masha Jones is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow working toward her PhD at UC Irvine’s School of Education, specializing in Learning, Cognition, and Development. She studies the executive functions of children with learning disabilities. Her approaches include striving to enhance executive functioning through cognitive training and attempting to better understand how differences in cognitive ability may be leveraged in support of creativity for individuals with learning disabilities.

Robert Kalinowski, B.A.
Graduate Student

Robert Kalinowski is a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow and typically speaks in the first person.  My primary goal is to create children’s media of the type and scale of “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood.”  I write and perform novel songs, stories, and other interventions targeted toward nurturing the young child.  I use these interventions to experimentally test the way children acquire key skills, such as early spatial and math skills, or, to look at it another way, I use the experiments to support the creation of the media interventions.  I also research the development of intelligence through the early school years.  My pride and joy is my small army of devoted undergraduate researcher volunteers, who enthusiastically collect data by directly assessing children in their preschools and who passionately contribute to my creative enterprise  (They all get “A’s”).

lin_grace_13_150Grace Lin, Ed.M
Graduate Student

Grace Lin is a PhD student specializing in both Learning, Cognition, and Development (LCD) and Language, Literacy, and Technology (LLT) at UC Irvine’s School of Education. Her interests center around the reciprocal relationships between cognition and language, specifically bilingual language development and how being bilingual affects one’s cognition (e.g., math learning). She is driven by the potential application of cognitive research findings to educational settings.

shafeeShafee Mohammed, B.S.
Graduate Student

Shafee Mohammed is an Optometrist by profession and did his undergraduate studies in India followed by clinical practice for a year and a half. During practice he came to understand the problems that arise in the daily lives of the visually impaired. As a doctoral student at UC Irvine’s School of Education, he intends to understand how visual stimulus aids in learning, how it contributes to working memory and how it alters in the visually impaired population. He is further interested in the potential benefits of cognitive training in improving working memory and learning of the visually impaired.

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-7-14-46-pmMariela J. Rivas, M.A.
Graduate Student

Mariela is a Ph.D. student in the UCI School of Education. She has a Master’s degree in Psychology from California State University, Los Angeles. Her work includes the application of cognitive theories of learning into instruction in higher education classrooms. A recent paper, with her Master’s advisor Ji Y. Son, was published in Scholarship of Teaching and Learning in Psychology. Click here for a download link.

emilyEmily Sumner, B.A.
Graduate Student

Emily Sumner is a PhD student in the Department of Cognitive Sciences interested in the development of risk-taking preferences. Her research focuses on 1) the development of the concepts underlying decision making, 2) creating methods to detect individual differences in risk propensity, and 3) the role that executive function plays into these individual difference. She is excited by the potential of creating cognitive training that will address these differences, and reduce risky behavior in special populations. She is also a member of the Sarnecka Cognitive Development Lab.

nancy-smallNancy Tsai, M.A.
Graduate Student

Nancy Tsai is a Ph.D. student in UC Irvine’s Education program with a specialization in Learning, Cognition, and Development (LCD).  She hopes to apply her studies of Cognitive Neuroscience to inform the development and evaluation of interventions aimed to promote learning. As a doctoral student, Nancy intends to examine the development of Executive Functions, the factors that foster or impair this development, and the programs aimed to improve it.  She hopes that through a rigorous exploration of EF, her evaluative work can help inform the development of effective cognitive training programs and other forms of innovative educational interventions.

Elena Carbone, M.A.
Visiting Graduate Student

Elena Carbone is a P.h.D. student in University of Padova’s  Psychological Sciences course. She has a Master’s degree in Neuroscience and Neuropsychological Rehabilitation and a II-Level Short Specialization degree in Psychology of Aging, both from the University of Padova, Italy.

As a doctoral student, she is interested in: i) assessing the role of age and individual differences in both cognitive abilities (e.g. spatial abilities, working memory) and individuals’ attitude toward spatial tasks in explaining spatial navigation and route learning performance; ii) understanding whether it is possible to compensate, limit and slow down older adults’ cognitive age-related decline in spatial navigation and route learning abilities – particularly relevant for older adults’ purpose of living independently by moving around efficiently and reaching places – thanks to effective cognitive training.

renataRenata Callipo Fujii, M.A.
Graduate Student

Renata is a PhD student at the Federal University of Rio Grande do Norte (UFRN/RN) in Natal, Brazil. She is currently investigating how to strengthen executive functions of children living in extreme poverty in Natal using targeted classroom-based computerized interventions.

img_8566Snigdha Kamarsu, B.S.
Lab Manager

Snigdha Kamarsu has a Bachelors of Science in Cognitive Neuroscience with a minor in Biology from UC Irvine. She enjoys learning about new cognitive measures and is interested in the neural pathways of memory. Snigdha plans to apply her knowledge from cognitive science to validate and implement new diagnostic assessments as a future neuropsychologist. When not at work in the lab, Snigdha enjoys reading, exploring new places, and learning new recipes.

Austin Moon, B.S./B.A.
Lab Manager

Austin Moon received his Bachelors of Science in Cognitive Neuroscience and Bachelors of Art in Education with a minor in Psychology and Social Behaviors at UC Irvine. His research interest is looking at intervention methods that improve cognition for people with early-onset epilepsy. He plans on applying for a PhD program and focus on how epilepsy can deviate normal brain development. Outside of lab, Austin loves going on long hikes, gets involved in environmental programs, and enjoys superhero movies.

chelseaChelsea Parlett, B.S.
Lab Manager

Chelsea earned a Bachelor of Science in Psychology from the University of California, San Diego with concentrations in Clinical and Behavioral Psychology. She loves statistics and education; she would love to talk to you about linear models and ANOVAs any day. Chelsea is interested in many things, including exploring how to help people learn  statistics more effectively and the neural processes that underlie cognition. When not at work in the lab, Chelsea enjoys reading, writing, and hiking.

image_buschkuehlMartin Buschkuehl, Ph.D.

Martin Buschkuehl’s main interest lies in cognitive training, especially working memory training where he looks at performance transfers of trained tasks to untrained ones. Besides behavioral investigations he also looks into the neural aspects of such transfers as investigated by means of fMRI. He is interested in investigating the theoretical foundations of transfer but also in applied aspects of working memory training. In his work he not only focuses on healthy young adults, but also on old adults, typically developing children, and children diagnosed with ADHD. He is the Director for Education Research at the MIND Research Institute.

Undergraduate Research Assistants: 

  • Marcela Aguila
  • Lusine Aleksanian
  • Taysheona Brodie
  • Kimberly Bunarjo
  • Sara Burt
  • John Feri
  • Julia Fong
  • Snigdha Kamarsu
  • Chris Koniniec
  • Mitchell Nguyen
Kreshnik Begolli, Ph.D.
(Former) Graduate Student

Kreshnik Begolli’s research arena alternates between the laboratory and the classroom in attempts to develop research in understanding how humans learn and impart knowledge. His studies draw from cognitive research in analogical reasoning, working memory, metacognition, perceptual learning, and language development. He is motivated by a curious mind and a desire to advance science and education. Kreshnik investigates individual differences in working memory when learning from analogy-based lessons that foster students’ conceptual thinking as well as – mathematical reasoning and generalizations.

Keko is now Dr. Begolli and a post-doc at Temple University.

auroraAurora LePort, Ph.D.
Former post-doc & collaborator

Aurora LePort was an Assistant Project Scientist at UC Irvine’s School of Education and Head of Research at grandPad Inc. Understanding what drives learning, memory and healthy aging has long since fascinated her. As a Ph.D. student, in the Department of Neurobiology and Behavior at UC Irvine, she became a pioneer in the field of Highly Superior Autobiographical Memory. Dr. LePort has shown how the brain and behavior, of a rare human population, may be contributing to exceptional autobiographical memory. Aurora was a Fellow with Data Incubator and she is now a Data Scientist at Verizon Wireless in Irvine.

Link to Aurora’s website.

 María Jesús MaraverCROPPED-mjesus600
Visiting Graduate Student, 2015

María Jesús Maraver is a PhD student from the Psychology Doctorate Program at the University of Granada (Spain) and a member of the Memory and Language Research Group. She was a visiting specialist at the UCI funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy. Her work is based on the hypothesis that interference control in memory and language is solved by means of inhibitory control mechanisms that suppress competing information. She aims to study whether cognitive training interventions may enhance inhibitory control mechanisms involved in working memory and reading comprehension processes.

TeyaTeya Rutherford, Ph.D.

Teya is now an Assistant Professor at North Carolina State University – Congrats and good luck!

Link to Teya’s personal website

minnieMinnie Wu, B.S.
(Former) Project Coordinator
Minnie Wu has a Bachelors of Science in Biology with minors in Psychology and Education from her hometown’s own UC Irvine. She is interested in neuropsychology and enjoys educational game design from many perspectives, including how to motivate people to learn and what goes into building games that are both helpful and fun. When not in the lab, Minnie enjoys writing fantasy, reading theology, and playing video games.Minnie is now a PhD student at the Donald Bren School of Information and Computer Science at UCI – good luck!
Previous Working Memory & Plasticity Lab members at the UMD:
image_nhsuNina Hsu, Ph.D. – University of Maryland
Collaborator / Post-Doc

I am broadly interested in neural mechanisms that underlie the organization, structure, and plasticity of memory and language representations and processes. My previous work has focused on using behavioral and neural measures to identify systematic factors in memory retrieval. Currently, using multiple methods, I am examining the interplay and potential malleability of memory retrieval, language processing, and the neurobiological mechanisms underlying their interaction.

image_jnovickJared Novick, Ph.D. – University of Maryland

I am an Associate Research Scientist at CASL, the UMD Center for Advanced Study of Language. My research seeks to understand the human computational system that supports the real-time interpretation and re-interpretation of sentences. In particular, my work examines the specific contributions of cognitive control abilities to facilitate recovery from misanalysis when evidential sources from the input (linguistic and contextual) conflict. I address these issues by implementing an array of behavioral and neuroscientific methods, including recording eye movements during reading and spoken comprehension tasks. The overarching goal is to gain insight into the behavioral and neurobiological interplay among multiple systems: language, memory, and cognitive control.

Link to Jared’s personal website.

Arifi Waked, M.A. – University of Maryland
Graduate student
Auditory Perception and Modeling Lab
Current Collaborators at Other Institutions

Undergraduate Alumni – keep us updated!

  • Rohan Ahuja
  • Claire Arakelian
  • Daniel Barakh
  • Nick Davey; graduate student Counseling Psychology, Washington State University
  • Meir Hauser; graduate student Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, Chicago School of Professional Psychology
  • Brooke Herd
  • Diane Hua
  • Jenan Husain
  • Carla Kekejian
  • Hao Ngo
  • Karen Nguyen
  • Chan Woo Park
  • Brian Rayburn
  • April Rodriguez
  • Hannah Sayono
  • Parimala Sharma
  • Ellen Sheehan
  • Ally Stegman
  • Alex Tebbe
  • Shane Wise
  • Iliana Yepez