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Julien Musolino

Principal Investigator

Dr. Musolino is a cognitive scientist, public speaker, and author who holds a dual appointment in the Psychology Department and the Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science (RuCCS). Dr. Musolino is also a member of the graduate faculty in the world-renowned Department of Philosophy at Rutgers University. His research spans a broad range of topics in the sciences of the mind with the overarching goal of shedding light on what makes our intelligence distinctively human. Research topics include questions about language, rationality, agency, memory, and belief formation/updating. Dr. Musolino’s research has been published in leading international journals and it has been funded by the NIH and the NSF. Dr. Musolino’s work also takes a public dimension and explores the implications of cognitive science for a range of issues of broader societal importance. Dr. Musolino has been the recipient of multiple teaching awards, he has appeared on national television, participated in public debates, his work has been discussed in popular magazines, and he has been a guest on radio and podcast programs in the United States and abroad. For more information about Dr. Musolino, please visit his personal website.

Pernille Hemmer

Principal Investigator

Dr. Hemmer is a cognitive psychologist appointed in the Psychology Department and affiliated with Rutgers University Center for Cognitive Science (RuCCS) and Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research. Her research interests span a diverse set of topics in cognitive science. While her work centers on episodic and semantic memory, the overarching theme is decision making in naturalistic environments. She applies computational and Bayesian modeling to behavioral experiments to explore how people use environmental information in retrieval from memory, belief updating, and decision making in general. Dr. Hemmer’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) since 2015, including the prestigious NSF CAREER award. She received the 2016 Rising Star Award from the Association for Psychological Science. She is the current President of the Society for Mathematical Psychology (SMP) and serves as Associate Editor for the journal Psychonomic Bulletin & Review and as Editorial Board Member for the flagship journal for SMP Computational Brain & Behavior. Previously, she was Associate Editor for Behavioral Research Methods. Dr. Hemmer serves on the advisory Women in Cognitive Science (WiCS) and organizing boards Women of Mathematical Psychology (WoMP). Her commitment to mentoring female undergraduate and graduate students was recognized with the 2015 WiCS Mentorship Award. Here’s a link to Dr. Hemmer’s CV.

Laura Saad

Ph.D. Student

Laura is a third year Ph.D. student in the cognitive area in the department of psychology. She received her B.S. in psychology from the University of the Sciences. Her research interests include memory, decision making, and agency. She is currently working on a project that investigates the relationship between the implicit and explicit aspects of the sense of agency using the intentional binding paradigm. When not working you will probably find Laura running, teaching color guard, or reading from the stack of unread books on her desk.

Joseph Sommer

Ph.D. Student

Joseph is in his fourth year as a Ph.D. student in Cognitive Psychology. He is interested in game theory, computational modeling, and bounded rationality. His research focuses on the cognitive mechanisms underlying belief formation and belief revision.

Melissa Waer

Ph.D. Student

Melissa is a second year Ph.D. student in Cognitive Psychology. She received her B.S. in Psychology from Stockton University and her M.A. in Psychology from Rutgers University- Camden. Her research interests include attention and agency. In her free time, Melissa can be found reading or listening to history podcasts.

Mariah Lutchman

Ph.D. Student

Mariah is an incoming Ph.D. student in cognitive psychology. She received her B.A. in forensic psychology from CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice. Mariah’s research interests include memory errors and decision-making as it pertains to the criminal justice system. She will be jointly working with the HCCL and Dr. Qiong Zhang who will join the Rutgers Psychology faculty in the fall of 2021. During her down time, Mariah enjoys reading crime novels or doing nail art on her family and friends.

Nipun Arora

Ph.D. Student

Nipun is an incoming graduate student in Cognitive Psychology. Currently working in Data Science, Nipun has a B.E. degree in Control Systems and a Masters in Cognitive Science from Carleton University, Canada. It was in the Young India Fellowship where he was first introduced to Cognitive Science and nothing has ever been the same since. As a Data scientist, Nipun worked on machine learning projects to understand online behavior and used keystrokes dynamics and linguistic cues to detect fraud. For his research, Nipun is interested in belief formation and agency, particularly what kinds of experiences disempower people and make them lesser agents.

Nicole King

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Nicole is a senior undergraduate student majoring in psychology and minoring in statistics. Her research interests include attention and memory — specifically involving episodic memory, scripts, prior knowledge, and temporality. She loves to read, play saxophone in the Rutgers Marching Scarlet Knights, and anything to do with cats!

Jesus De Luna

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Jesus was a research assistant in the lab from September 2018 to January 2020. He completed an honors thesis investigating the relationship between explicit and implicit agency, which led him to graduate with honors in January of 2020. Jesus is currently working as a clinical research assistant at Brown University where he is investigating early indicators for developmental concerns in infancy. He plans to pursue a PhD in cognitive science to investigate the contextual cues prompting inductive inferences in novel environments.

Chrystal Spencer

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Chrystal was a research assistant in the lab from September 2015 to May 2018. She completed a senior thesis investigating how counterintuitive concepts relate to memory, and graduated with honors in Psychology in May 2018. Currently, Chrystal is a Lab Manager/Research Assistant at Rutgers-Newark, studying the effects of acute stress on cognitive performance and neural processing. In Fall 2020, she will begin her graduate studies in the Biological and Health Psychology PhD program at the University of Pittsburgh.

Dr. Asya Achimova

Ph.D. Student

During her Ph.D. years at Rutgers, before the creation of HCCL, Asya Achimova worked with Julien Musolino on the interaction of quantifiers, words such as ‘every’, ‘each’, and question terms, using experimental tools to address theoretical questions in linguistics. She then taught courses in Bilingualism and Second Language Acquisition, as well as Statistics in Linguistic Research, at the University of Leipzig. In Fall 2018, she started a 6-year research position joining the Ambiguity Group and the Neuro-Cognitive Modeling Lab at the University of Tübingen. Her current projects are devoted to modeling of ambiguity creation and resolution, and studying the role of ambiguity in communication and social interactions.