Thad Polk, Ph.D.

Professor Thad A. Polk is an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan. He also chairs Michigan’s Institutional Review Board for Health Sciences and Behavioral Sciences and serves as an Associate Chair in the Psychology Department. His research combines functional imaging of the human brain with computational modeling and behavioral methods to investigate the neural architecture underlying cognition. Some of his major projects have investigated changes in neural representations as we age, contributions of nature versus nurture to neural organization, and differences in the brains of smokers who quit compared with those who do not. Dr. Polk has taught well over 6,000 UM students over the past 20 years. In 2006, he was named an Arthur F. Thurnau Professor in recognition of outstanding contributions to undergraduate education, and in 2012 Princeton Review included him on its list of the Best 300 Professors in the US.


 Molly Simmonite IMG_3418

Molly is a postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan. She received her Ph.D in Psychiatry in 2013 from the University of Nottingham, UK, where she investigated cerebral connectivity in psychosis. She joined the Computational & Cognitive Neuroscience Lab in April 2016, where she will be using functional MRI, MR spectroscopy and behavioral methods to study the effects of aging on the brain. Her research interests revolve around trying to understand the architecture and behavior of the complex brain networks which underlie normal and pathological brain states.


Poortata (Pia) Lalwani

Pia is a Ph.D. student in the Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience area within the Psychology Doctoral Program at the University of Michigan.  In the CCN lab, she uses fMRI, spectroscopy, electrophysiology and cognitive testing to investigate individual differences in aging.  Her dissertation project focuses on understanding the cause and consequences of age-related declines in neural variability and selectivity. In a parallel universe she works in Multisensory perception lab to investigate the neural basis of synesthesia. She also serves as the co-president of Graduate Rackham International (GRIN) organization. In her spare time she loves to travel and cook. Here is a link to her google scholar page.                                                                                                                                                                                  

image.1527621289150Dalia Khammash

Dalia joined the Psychology department in 2017 and is a PhD student in the Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience area. She received her Bachelor of Science from the University of Michigan in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience in 2016. In the Computation and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, Dalia will be using a noninvasive neurostimulation technique called transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS). Her goal is to investigate how TMS affects activity in the motor and visual areas of the brain in both healthy and clinical populations.


Erin Freiburgerunnamed

Erin joined the Computational & Cognitive Neuroscience Lab as Lab Manager in June 2018. She graduated from Hope College in May 2018 with a B.S. in psychology and Spanish. As an undergraduate, she was involved in many different research projects including studies assessing self-regulatory processes, cross-cultural differences in views of the ideal person, and culturally competent healthcare. Erin is now interested in exploring brain imaging techniques as a means to better understand behavior. Ultimately she plans to pursue a doctoral program in social psychology and explore the experiences of marginalized groups and how to better develop a work climate that supports diversity. 


Ryan Rich

Ryan is a Junior triple majoring in Psychology, Sociology, and Organizational Studies. His primary interests are in Psychological Research, though he is interested in a holistic view of the human experience and the factors contributing to it. Last semester he learned MatLab and worked with Pia to design visual stimuli and tasks for EEG studies. This semester he will continue working with Pia to collect EEG data, but he will also be working with other lab members to modify quality control scripts, create tasks for other experiments, and do anything else that comes his way.  

Shannon Kelley IMG_6731 (2)

Shannon is a research assistant who joined the Computational and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab in January 2017. She graduated from the University of Michigan with a Bachelor’s in Science in May 2019. Shannon’s primary focus is on analyzing white matter using fixel based analysis and generating scripts for data analysis in Matlab. She is currently applying to Medical School with the hopes to attend in the summer of 2020.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Saachi Mittal

Saachi is a sophomore intending to major in Neuroscience and Public Health. She joined the Computational and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab in winter 2019 and is eager to learn more about the effects of aging on neural and behavioral performance using functional magnetic resonance imaging and behavioral techniques. Currently, Saachi is working on maintaining brain artifact logs and reviewing the quality of magnetic resonance spectroscopy data. Saachi plans to attend medical school after completing her undergraduate degree.        


2016-05-24 21.42.51 (1)

Elsy Nouna

Elsy is a Senior studying Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience, and joined the Polk Lab in January, 2019. She plans on attending dental school after graduation and believes psychology is a very integral aspect of every day interactions and understanding that will definitely prepare her for future roles. Elsy has always been curious about the brain and how it functions, and is very excited to learn more about the aging brain and how cognitive processes change over time. She is most eager about learning how to analyze neural and behavioral data. 

Abbas Alhassan

Abbas is a senior majoring in Neuroscience. His fascination in the development of the brain and the variation in how information is processed between individuals led to his involvement with the Polk Lab beginning in the Summer of 2019. He hopes to incorporate his undergraduate knowledge in psychology and neuroscience towards better understanding the nuances in medicine. Abbas is currently working towards his goals of attending medical school and is excited to learn more about how to study cognition in a lab environment.