Faculty

Amir Raz - Director

Amir Raz

Founding Director, Professor

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Amir Raz

Founding Director, Professor

(On sabbatical, unavailable this academic year. Limited consulting only.)


Amir Raz - Director

Dr. Raz is Professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences and Founding Director of the Brain Institute at Chapman University, and Professor in the Department(s) of Psychiatry (Psychology, Neurology and Neurosurgery) at McGill University (Canada). His research spans the cognitive neuroscience of attention, placebos, and altered planes of consciousness.

Dr. Raz is a world leader in unlocking the brain substrates of attention and consciousness. Dr. Raz is Professor of Psychiatry, Neurology & Neurosurgery, and Psychology; Senior Investigator in the Lady Davis Institute for Medical Research of the Jewish General Hospital; and a member of the Montreal Neurological Institute. He heads both the Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at McGill University and the Clinical Neuroscience and Applied Cognition Laboratory at the Institute for Community and Family Psychiatry.

Former member of the McGill Board of Governors and Editor-in Chief of a specialty peer-reviewed journal, Professor Raz combines cutting-edge science and trailblazing research with community outreach, science teaching, and interdisciplinary education in the health and psychological sciences. With peer reviewed publications in journals such as Nature, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, The Lancet, and Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Professor Raz has received multiple accolades, ranging from a Young Investigator Award from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression and the American Psychological Association’s Early Career Award, to Fellow of the Society for Clinical and Experimental Hypnosis and Honorary Fellow of the Golden Key Society.

Dr. Raz’s research interests span the neural and psychological substrates of attention, suggestion, placebos, and self-regulation. A former magician and musician, he also conducts research into the cognitive neuroscience of deception, ownership, altered consciousness, and atypical cognition. Using imaging of the living human brain, genetics, and other techniques, his research brings together basic and clinical science.

Uri Maoz - Assistant Professor

Uri Maoz

Assistant Professor

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Uri Maoz

Assistant Professor

Uri Maoz - Assistant Professor

Dr. Uri Maoz joined Chapman University in 2017 as an Assistant Professor of Computational Neuroscience at Crean College and at the Institute for Interdisciplinary Brain and Behavioral Sciences. He is also an affiliate at Schmid College of Science and Technology and at the Fowler School of Engineering. His research lies at the intersection of volition, decision-making, and moral choice. He uses a combination of empirical techniques (e.g., EEG, intracranial recordings, behavioral studies) and theoretical modeling to develop a computational account of volition, with an emphasis on the decision-making processes that lead to voluntary action and on the role of consciousness in such processes. In particular, he uses machine-learning to carry out online, real-time, closed-loop analysis of neural data, as it is recorded. He is further interested in the legal, ethical, conceptual, and economic implications of this work.

Dr. Maoz earned a B.Sc. in computer science and general humanistic studies and a Ph.D. in neural computation from the Hebrew University. As part of his graduate studies, he was a visiting student at the Weizmann Institute of Science and the Collège de France. He was then a postdoctoral scholar at Caltech and at the Cedars Sinai Medical Center. Later, he was a researcher at the Department of Neurosurgery at UCLA and then faculty at the Department of Psychology there. He serves as a  a Visiting Associate in Biology and Bioengineering at Caltech. He also directs a large, international project comprising 17 neuroscientists and philosophers, who aim to understand how the brain enables conscious control of human decisions and actions.

Aaron Schurger

Assistant Professor

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Aaron Schurger

Assistant Professor

Dr. Schurger’s research is focused on uncovering the distinction between conscious and non-conscious neural information processing and on the neural mechanisms of volition and self-initiated action. He uses a variety of techniques in his research including neuroimaging, behavioral psychophysics, machine learning, and computational modeling.

Staff

Tian Lan - Biomedical Engineer

Tian Lan

Biomedical Engineer

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Tian Lan

Biomedical Engineer

Tian Lan - Biomedical Engineer

Tian Lan is a biomedical engineer with the Brain Institute. He holds an M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from UC Irvine. He oversees the equipment and experiments at the Brain Institute. 

Tian is interested in applying techniques like EEG, EMG, biophysics, eye-tracking, TMS, and VR in various environments to assess human brain activities and physiological changes, in particular, the underlying mechanisms of consciousness in decision making and voluntary actions. Also, he is interested in applying machine learning techniques in the real-time processing of time series data.

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Gilana Pikover

Lab Manager

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Gilana Pikover

Lab Manager

Gilana is majoring in Biology and minoring in Psychology at Chapman University. She began working at the Brain Institute as a Research Assistant and is now working as the Lab Manager alongside her research. She is currently studying pupillometry and machine learning as they relate to conscious decision making.

Postdocs

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Nadav Amir

Postdoc (joint with Liad Mudrik)

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Nadav Amir

Postdoc (joint with Liad Mudrik)

Dr. Amir obtained his Ph.D. in computational neuroscience from the Edmond and Lily Safra Center for Brain Sciences at Hebrew University of Jerusalem, where he worked on dynamical system models of navigational learning and attention, under the supervision of Prof. Naftali Tishby and Prof. Israel Nelken. During this time he also completed a B.A. in humanities at the Open University of Israel and a B.Mus. in classical clarinet performance at the Jerusalem Academy of Music and Dance. His academic background includes a B.Sc. in physics, mathematics and computer science from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

He is interested in bridging first- and third-person perspectives in the study of consciousness and free-will using computational approaches.

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Tomáš Dominik

Postdoc

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Tomáš Dominik

Postdoc

Dr. Dominik received his Ph.D. in December 2019 after defending a dissertation thesis pertaining various aspects of Libet’s experiment. His interests lie in the overlap between psychology, psychophysiology and neuroscience of volition. Specifically, he studies the reliability of introspective reports of motor intention or the origins of brain potentials preceding voluntary or pre-contemplated movements. He also previously led a project of complex replication of Libet’s experiment. He uses EEG, various psychophysiological methods (ECG, EDA, EMG, EOG, etc.), and behavioral methods for his research.

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Mathieu Landry

Postdoc

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Mathieu Landry

Postdoc

Dr. Mathieu Landry completed his Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience at McGill University. Broadly, his research explores how cognition (e.g., attention, anticipation, executive control) shapes consciousness (i.e., how we subjectively experience the world and our own mind). His work has primarily focused on the overlapping dynamics between attention, perception and metacognition, while he also investigated and published several papers on hypnosis and suggestions. His research combines various methods, including neurophysiology (i.e., electro- and magnetoencephalography), experimental strategies from psychophysics and cognitive psychology, and a variety of analytical strategies (e., computational modelling, machine learning).

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Marie-Christine Nizzi

Postdoc (joint with Adina Roskies)

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Marie-Christine Nizzi

Postdoc (joint with Adina Roskies)

My research focuses on resilience and the sense of self. I am interested in understanding what enables certain persons to better integrate life changing events or diagnoses into their narrative. So far, I have worked with clinical populations suffering from cognitive impairment (neuro-degenerative diseases) or motor disabilities (locked-in syndrome) and I am currently developing projects with trauma survivors (sexual assault, domestic violence, child abuse, combat exposure).

My goal is 1) to better understand the nature of the processes involved in forming and maintaining a healthy sense of self and 2) to improve the quality of life in patients with a feeling of alienation due to their condition.

Graduate Students

Caitlyn Chavez - Graduate Research Assistant

Caitlyn Chavez

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Caitlyn Chavez


Caitlyn Chavez - Graduate Research Assistant
Caitlyn is a PhD student at the Brain Institute and MLAT lab in Chapman University’s Computational and Data Sciences program. She graduated from UCSB in June 2016 with a B.S. in Chemistry. In her research, Caitlyn focuses on deep learning, computer vision, and signal processing in solving problems in precision medicine and biomedical imaging.
Jake Gavenas - Graduate Research Assistant

Jake Gavenas

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Jake Gavenas


Jake Gavenas - Graduate Research Assistant
Jake is a PhD student with the Brain Institute and Chapman University’s Computational and Data Sciences program. He graduated from UCLA in June 2017 with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Mathematics. His research interests include the neural mechanisms of voluntary action, the timing of unconscious and conscious factors in decision making, and mathematical and computational modeling of these and related phenomena. He is also engaged with the philosophical debate surrounding what the neuroscience of volition can tell us about free will.
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Lucas Jeay-Bizot

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Lucas Jeay-Bizot


Lucas Jeay-Bizot is an incoming PhD student in the Computational and Data Science program at Chapman University. Lucas received an MA in Mathematics and Philosophy from the University of Glasgow and will be graduating with an MSc in Cognitive Science from the University of Vienna. His research interests cover both the neuroscientific and philosophical investigations of the phenomenon of free will. During his PhD he plans to investigate different aspects of voluntary actions using EEG and machine learning techniques.

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Elnaz Lashgari

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Elnaz Lashgari


Elnaz is a PhD student in Computational and Data Sciences at Chapman University. She holds a B.Sc. in Electrical Engineering and an M.Sc. in Biomedical Engineering from Sharif University of Technology.
Her research is focused on developing machine learning algorithms with application in computational neuroscience, especially the prediction of action content before action onset. In her research, she uses image analysis, signal processing and deep learning.

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Andy Liang

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Andy Liang


Andy is a PhD student in Computational and Data Sciences at Chapman University. His research is mainly focused on computational methods in neuroscience and deep learning. During his time as a student at Chapman, he has worked on many different datasets. For Andy, the data that are collected from the brain is the most exciting data to analyze. He believes the brain and cognition are still mysterious to us and understanding how the they work will make an impact on how we understand human beings.

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Alice Wong

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Alice Wong


Alice is a current PhD student in the Computational and Data Science program at Chapman University, with a B.A in Psychology from UCLA. Her areas of research interests include characterising the extent of how random human generated sequences can be, and the neuroscience and temporal dynamics of voluntary action.

Postbac Research Assistants

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Akima Connelly

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Akima Connelly


Akima graduated from Chapman University in May of 2020 with a Bachelor’s degree in Biological Sciences and a Minor in Computer Science. He is currently working on the Motion Imagery project and the real-time systems used in the lab. His research interests include neuroprosthetics and brain-computer interface systems.

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Jackson Gregory

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Jackson Gregory


Jackson is a recent graduate from Chapman University with a major in psych and a minor in philosophy. He joined the Brain Institute as an undergrad researcher in summer 2018. He wanted to get into neuroscience research to study consciousness as well as brain damage and brain functioning. Outside of school, Jackson is a musician and a snowboarder. He is also a passionate writer and reader, and has two dogs that he loves very much.

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Amber Hopkins

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Amber Hopkins


Amber graduated from Chapman in May of 2019, double majored in Psychology and Philosophy. Her research interests include consciousness, philosophy of mind, sensation and perception.

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Thomas Kim

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Thomas Kim


Tom is a postbac researcher interested in the neural mechanisms of voluntary actions and perception. Tom is currently exploring how machine learning can complement psychological research.

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Joanna Pak

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Joanna Pak


Joanna Pak graduated with a B.S. in Health Sciences from Chapman University in May 2020. She is a 2020 SURF and CUE grant recipient. Joanna is interested in volition, and is working on projects using EEG and TMS to study brain activity at rest and before volitional actions.

Adrien Schurger-Foy

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Adrien Schurger-Foy


Adrien graduated from the University of Manchester (UK) in May 2020, double majored in Mathematics and Computer Science. His research interests include brain-computer-interface systems and explainable AI.

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Martha Shaw

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Martha Shaw


Martha graduated from Chapman University in May of 2021 with a BA in Psychology and a BFA in Screen Acting. She began working at the Brain Institute as a research assistant during her senior year, and now she is continuing her work as a postbac research assistant

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Lexi van der Hoeven

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Lexi van der Hoeven


Lexi graduated from Chapman in 2020 with a major in Health Sciences and a minor in Psychology. She has a passion for neuroscience and plans to attend medical school. Lexi is currently working on an EEG project aiming to decode decisions as they are made using brain signals.

Postbac Interns

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Isy Barrett

Animation Artist/Graphic Designer

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Isy Barrett

Animation Artist/Graphic Designer

A recent grad of Chapman University with a BFA in Animation and Visual Effects, Isy is an illustrator, animator, and graphic designer for the Brain Institute who is interested in pursuing a career in TV animation.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

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Brittany Katcha

Social Media Manager

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Brittany Katcha

Social Media Manager

Brittany Katcha is an undergraduate student at Chapman University, and is originally from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. She first came to Chapman as a biology student interested in medicine, but soon after discovered her passion for the brain. She is currently working on her Bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in neuroscience. Outside of school and her time at the Brain Institute, she enjoys painting and cooking, and hopes to study psychopharmacology in the future.

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Natalie Richardi

Assistant Lab Manager

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Natalie Richardi

Assistant Lab Manager

Natalie Richardi is a Junior Health Science major and psychology minor at Chapman University. She began at the Brain Institute in Fall 2019 studying mood induction, emotion, and the use of EEG in neurofeedback. In addition to her role as a Research Assistant, she is the Assistant Lab Manager. She plans to continue her higher education in medical school and hopes to use her experiences from the Brain Institute to help improve patient-physician interactions.

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Emma Chen

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Emma Chen


Emma Chen is a sophomore at Chapman University majoring in Health Sciences and minoring in Neuroscience. She is involved in the EEG biofeedback, microdosing, and TMS-agency projects. Her research interests lie among the intersection between neuroscience, philosophy, and law.

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Ori Garibi

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Ori Garibi


Ori is a Freshman at Chapman University majoring in Computer Engineering. He is working on developing the VR Driving Simulator, by creating a Unity environment where users can drive a realistic car in virtual reality.

Emma Krivoshein

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Emma Krivoshein


Emma Krivoshein is a junior psychology major planning to graduate in Spring 2022. She has been an undergraduate researcher with the Brain Institute since Fall 2019. At the Brain Institute, Emma has focused on studying consciousness using TMS, EEG, and pupillometry. She plans on pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology with an interest in using the application of current neuroscience research and methods to educate comprehensive treatment of mental disorders. 
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Maiia Tolia-Shah

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Maiia Tolia-Shah


Maiia Tolia-Shah is a health sciences major and psychology minor, planning to graduate in the spring of 2022. She has been a student researcher at the Brain Institute since January 2019. Maiia has focused on range anxiety, ADHD and randomness and is interested in the psychological and physiological relationship between the mind and the body. She plans to become an EMT during college, and after become a surgical PA, focusing on emergency care.

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Leyla Skyler Rakshani

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Leyla Skyler Rakshani


Leyla Skyler Rakshani is a Chapman Psychology and Sociology student who aims to graduate from Chapman University in May 2022, after three years of instruction. She has been working with the Brain Institute since Fall of 2020. At the Brain Institute, Leyla works on projects studying the sense of agency with TMS and the effects of microdosing psilocybin on sleep using EEG. She plans on pursuing a PsyD in Clinical Psychology with an emphasis on pediatric abnormal cases, specifically children and adolescents on the Autism Spectrum.

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Lian Koren

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Lian Koren


Lian Koren is a Junior, studying Psychology and Neuroscience at Chapman University. She first became fascinated with the brain in her high school anatomy class and followed that passion through into university. Her interests lie in the impact of emotions on cognitive control and the relationship between the physiology and psychology of the brain.

Undergraduate Interns

Hannah Ravitch

Administrative Assistant

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Hannah Ravitch

Administrative Assistant

Hannah Ravitch is a Psychology major and double minor in Law, Justice, & Social Control and Health Sciences at Chapman University, planning to graduate in the spring of 2021. She began working as an Administrative Assistant at the Brain Institute in the fall of 2019. Upon graduating, Hannah plans on attending graduate school and pursuing a career in Forensic Psychology or a related field.

Alex Rigl

App Developer

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Alex Rigl

App Developer

Alex Rigl is a Senior at Chapman University majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Game Development Programming. He is currently working as a student app developer, developing research based applications for iOS devices. Alex is interested in using his artistic background along with his programming expertise to create applications people will love and enjoy.

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Joaquin Valencia

App Developer

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Joaquin Valencia

App Developer

Joaquin is a senior at Chapman University majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Game Development Programming. He is currently working as a student app developer, helping create small applications for iOS devices. He is also involved in the VR Driving Simulator project, aiding in the creation of a customized driving simulation environment in Unity.

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Katelyn Snook

Videographer

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Katelyn Snook

Videographer

Katelyn is a sophomore majoring in Film Production and plans on minoring in both Advertising and Game Development Programming. She is currently working as the videographer for the Brain Institute. Katelyn is interested in pursuing video editing and production design areas of emphasis.

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Sam Brown

Videographer

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Sam Brown

Videographer

Sam Brown is a Junior at Chapman University majoring in Film Production and minoring in Virtual Reality/Augmented Reality. A content creator for the Brain Institute since 2020, he has produced graphics, video showcases, and educational interviews. After college, he hopes to use his experience as an independent filmmaker and freelance videographer to create memorable experiences in emerging mediums.

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Ryan Millares

Driving Simulation Research Assistant

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Ryan Millares

Driving Simulation Research Assistant

Ryan is a junior at Chapman University majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Game Development Programming and Analytics. He is currently working as a research assistant and programmer for the VR Driving Simulator project, which uses Unity to simulate a custom driving experience in virtual reality.

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Kelsy Hua

Graphic Designer/Animation Artist

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Kelsy Hua

Graphic Designer/Animation Artist

Kelsy Hua is a double major in business administration and graphic design at Chapman University. She is currently one of the graphic designers for the Brain Institute. Kelsy hopes to work in the entertainment industry after college as a film producer or an art director. In her free time, she trains in martial arts and enjoys hanging out with friends and family.

Volunteers

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Ashley Gong

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Ashley Gong


Ashley Gong is currently a junior at Gretchen Whitney High School and is gaining experience in neuroscience research at the Brain Institute with her involvement in projects relating to covert and overt attention. Ashley started her work here at Chapman at the beginning of 2020 and looks forward to continue exploring neuroscience and working on projects.

Alumni

Natalie Nichols (2019~2020, Graphic Designer)

Sereena Gee (2019~2020, Administrative Assistant)

Jungsu Pak (2018~2020, MSc Student)  

Jyelyn Bold (2018~2020, Undergraduate/Postbac RA)

Ariane Guirguis (2018~2020, Postbac RA)

Where we come from