People

   LAB DIRECTOR


Thad Polk, Ph.D. 

tpolk@umich.edu

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. In 2020, Dr. Polk was named the Samuel D. Epstein Collegiate Professor of Psychology in recognition of his work an inspiring teacher, outstanding researcher and selfless administrator. 

 

POSTDOC 


 Molly Simmonite IMG_3418

molsim@umich.edu

Molly is a postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan. She received her PhD 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, and uses 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.

 

GRADUATE STUDENTS 


Poortata (Pia) Lalwani

poortata@umich.edu

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.  A link to her google scholar page.                                                                                                                                                                                  

image.1527621289150Dalia Khammash

daliak@umich.edu

Dalia joined the Psychology department in 2017 and is a Ph.D. 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 Computational and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, Dalia uses 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.

 

 

Katy Michon

katmich@umich.edu

Katy Michon joined the Psychology department in 2020 as a Ph.D. student in Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Michigan in 2018. In the Computational and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, Katy uses person-specific neuroimaging techniques and transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) to understand how individual differences in the brain are related to individual differences in behavior.

 

 

Shreya Karippurathu Rajagopal

shreyara@umich.edu

Shreya joined the Polk Lab in 2020 as a Ph.D. student in the Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience. She graduated as an Electronics and Communication engineer from Manipal Institute of Technology, Karnataka, India in 2018, following which she worked as a research assistant in the Center for Neuroscience at the Indian Institute of Science, Bangalore. With her work in predicting progression to Alzheimer’s Disease in patients with Mild cognitive impairment there, Shreya became interested in studying individual differences in brain aging. In the Polk Lab, she is investigating whether a combination of neural and cognitive measures can predict the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. She is also using EEG techniques to study how neural representations of different stimuli of the same modality become less distinct with age. She is also very interested in understanding how reinforcement learning occurs in animals, and is working on a computational model of the same. In her free time, Shreya can be found experimenting with water colors, dancing or taking absurdly long walks.

 

LAB MANAGER


Abbey Hamlin

abbeyham@umich.edu

Abbey joined the Computational & Cognitive Neuroscience Lab as Lab Manager in June 2020. She graduated from the University of Michigan in May 2020 with a B.A. in psychology and a Spanish minor. She wrote a senior honors thesis entitled “Social Engagement and Episodic Memory in Black and White Older Adults.” Her research interests include cognitive aging, racial and gender disparities in health, and developing cognitive and behavioral interventions for adults with Alzheimer’s disease. Abbey is also interested in exploring brain imaging techniques as a means to better understand cognitive aging. Ultimately she plans to attend a doctoral program in clinical neuropsychology.

 

RESEARCH ASSISTANTS


 

Ryan Rich

ryrich@umich.edu

Ryan is a Senior triple majoring in Psychology, Sociology, and Organizational Studies. Ryan is interested in how socialization shapes people’s learning and experience, how individuals differ in learning environments, and how educational organizations can customize student learning environments to maximize success. Within the lab, Ryan has heavily focused on creating and using scripts as well as image and sound editing software to generate new stimuli for EEG based experiments. This semester, he will be recruiting as well as running participants in a new EEG experiment. Additionally, Ryan works on quality control measures for the lab’s behavioral data as well as for the lab’s independent component analysis of fMRI data.                                           
                                                                      

Saachi Mittal 

saachim@umich.edu

Saachi is a junior 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.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                        

Colleen McGowan

mccollee@umich.edu

Colleen joined the Polk lab in January 2020. She is a senior studying Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience along with a French minor, and is very interested in neuroimaging techniques and how they can help us better understand the aging brain. Colleen primarily works on the Dense Imaging project and is most excited to run participants through fMRI scanner protocol and help analyze neural data. Colleen’s goal after graduation is to join a cognitive neuroscience PhD program.                                                                                                                        

 

 Sophia Fortunato        

 fortunas@umich.edu

Sophia is a senior double majoring in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies. She joined the Polk Lab in September of 2020. She is primarily working on the Dense Imaging project, and is excited about reimagining the method of analyzing brain scans through acknowledging the importance of individual differences. Sophia plans on pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology upon graduating.                                                                                                            

 

Gregory Kondas

gkondas@umich.edu

Gregory is a sophomore who is currently undecided in his intended major. Joining Polk Lab in Fall 2020, he is mainly focused on quality control efforts with an emphasis on automation of the quality control procedures within the lab. Gregory is eager to learn more about the overall research process as well as the intricacies of the brain involving aging. Gregory hopes to attend medical school following graduation.

 

Ethan Nelson

etnelson@umich.edu

Ethan is a sophomore majoring in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience and minoring in Medical Anthropology who joined the Polk Lab in January of 2021. Ethan is excited to dive deeper into the field of cognition and neuroscience. He hopes to attend medical school after obtaining his undergraduate degree.

 

 

 

Arianna Lessard

aylessar@umich.edu

Arianna is a Senior majoring in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience. She joined the Polk Lab in January of 2021. Arianna is passionate about cognitive psychology and neuroscience. Arianna is currently working on literature review for the lab, and she’s excited to continue contributing to the growing field and the Polk Lab. Arianna plans to attend a PhD program in Clinical Psychology after receiving her undergraduate degree. 

 

 

Nikhil Paruchuri

nikpar@umich.edu

Nikhil is a sophomore planning on majoring in Biology. He joined the Polk Lab in Winter 2021 and is looking forward to learning more about the cognitive processes of the brain and how it can be studied through neuroimaging techniques. Nikhil hopes to attend medical school after graduating from Michigan.

 

 

 

Jonas Hart 

jhartp@umich.edu 

Jonas is a junior majoring in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience and Political Science, and he joined the Polk Lab in May of 2021. Jonas is deeply interested in the rapidly evolving field of computational neuroscience and the growing body of literature investigating individual differences in brain organization. He hopes to attend law school following his graduation, after which he would like to pursue a career in patent law to protect intellectual property in neuropharmacological developments and new neuroimaging technologies. 

 

PICTURES OF THE TEAM