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Program Faculty

All faculty members affiliated with the MA in Psychology are listed below, along with their research interests. Prospective students may reach out to faculty members via email with questions about their work or to inquire into whether they plan to accept new students for mentorship in the coming year.

Yoav Arieh, PhD
Associate Professor

Yoav Arieh, Chair and Associate Professor, has a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from Bar Ilan University. His research interests include auditory perception, selective attention and the way people combine information from different sources to make decisions about the environment. In particular, he studies how people treat multiple sources of information, either combining them or filtering some of them to create a stable perceptual representation.

Paul Amrhein, PhD

Paul Amrhein, Professor, received a PhD from the University of Wisconsin – Madison. His research interests include language use in natural contexts (conversations, therapeutic interventions) and how bilingualism contrasts with monolingualism with regard to memory access and production of knowledge representations across the lifespan. He teaches courses in research methodology and statistics.

Michael Bixter, PhD
Assistant Professor

Michael Bixter, Assistant Professor, received a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from Stony Brook University with a graduate certificate in Quantitative Methods. He then completed two postdoctoral research positions, the first at Georgia Tech and the second at Arizona State University. His research interests include the cognitive mechanisms underlying decisions about delayed and risky rewards, how decisions are made in small-group situations, how decision making and other cognitive processes develop across adulthood, and studying consequential behavioral outcomes associated with different decision-making patterns.

Alexandra Gaynor
Assistant Professor

Alexandra Gaynor, Assistant Professor, earned her PhD in Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience from the City University of New York, where her research focused on cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying memory processes. She completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, investigating the role of cancer history in neurocognitive dysfunction in older adults, and then expanded upon this work at Columbia University, where she examined the impact of modifiable lifestyle factors on brain and cognitive aging.  Dr. Gaynor’s ongoing research uses non-invasive brain stimulation and neuroimaging methods to investigate the roles of disease history and lifestyle on neurocognitive aging in healthy and clinical populations.

Laura Lakusta, PhD

Laura Lakusta, Professor, received a PhD in Cognitive Developmental Psychology/Cognitive Science from Johns Hopkins University. Her research interests focus on language and cognitive development in typically developing infants and children, as well as children with developmental disorders, such as Autism Spectrum Disorder, Specific Language Impairment, and Williams syndrome. In particular, she studies how infants’ representations can support language development and how language input from the environment can influence development. 

Jennifer Pardo, PhD

Jennifer Pardo, Professor, received a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from Yale University. She is the director of the Speech Communication Laboratory. Her research centers on the production and perception of spoken language, with an emphasis on understanding variation and convergence in phonetic form. She teaches courses in cognition, perception, and psycholinguistics. Publications resulting from her research have appeared in Journal of Memory & Language, Frontiers in Psychology, and Attention, Perception, & Psychophysics.

Ruth E. Propper, PhD

Ruth Propper, Professor, received a PhD in Cognitive Neuropsychology from the University of Toledo. She is the director of the Cerebral Lateralization Laboratory. Her research interests include cerebral lateralization of cortical functions, particularly those of frontal areas, including language and spatial memory and emotional regulation; interhemispheric interaction in the context of cognition; individual differences in handedness; mechanisms by which brain activity can be altered and effects on behavior/cognition; sleep.

Joshua Sandry, PhD
Assistant Professor

Joshua Sandry, Assistant Professor, received a PhD from New Mexico State University. His research interests include cognitive impairment and neuropsychological changes in multiple sclerosis and traumatic brain injury.

Akina Umemoto
Assistant Professor

Akina Umemoto, Assistant Professor, received her PhD in Cognition and Brain Sciences Program in psychology from University of Victoria, BC, Canada, in 2016. Her research has centered around the overarching questions examining 1) how the reward system works, 2) the role of cognitive control in modulating reward- and effort-based behaviors, and 3) the underlying mechanisms of alterations in these processes in mental disorders, particularly depression and anxiety. Dr. Umemoto uses a combination of psychophysiological methods (electroencephalography (EEG) and pupillometry), experimental manipulations, and behavioral and self-report measures to answer her research questions. Outside of her work Dr. Umemoto enjoys running and yoga, and has love for dogs and nature.

John Paul Wilson, PhD
Assistant Professor

John Paul Wilson, Assistant Professor, received a PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Toronto. His research is broadly focused on the interplay of perceiver and target identities in social perception. It also focuses on first impressions, face memory, and social judgments. He teaches courses in social psychology.‌

Yingying (Jennifer) Yang, PhD
Assistant Professor

Yingying (Jennifer) Yang, Assistant Professor, received a PhD in developmental/cognitive psychology from the University of Alabama. Her research interests include cognitive development in typically developing children and children with intellectual or developmental disabilities, such as autism spectrum disorder. Dr. Yang is also interested in applying developmental research to real-world educational and clinical settings.