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. 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.
Mark D. Zuppichini
Mark is a postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan. He received his Ph.D. in Cognition and Neuroscience from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2022 where he investigated the underlying neurophysiologic changes associated with cognitive decline due to multiple sclerosis. Mark joined the lab in August 2022, and he utilizes neuropsychological assessments and neuroimaging methods to study the underlying neural processes associated with healthy cognition and cognitive decline due to aging and disease.
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.
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
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.
Violet joined the Computational and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab in Fall 2021. She received a Master’s degree in Education Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in August 2021 and earned a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering in 2013 from Tongji University in Shanghai, China. After she graduated from college, she worked as an engineer and project manager for developing the Internet-of-Vehicles and actively joined a research project on aging and memory and the effectiveness of certain interventions on Alzheimer’s Disease. She worked as a research assistant at Legare Lab at UT Austin on a cross-cultural study of children’s cognitive development and social learning. Led by her interests and passion in Neuroscience and Clinical Psychology, she wants to explore the neural mechanism of cognitive impairment and to contribute to novel interventions and therapies for psychopathology in the clinical field.
Esther joined Polk Lab as a lab manager in the Summer of 2022. She received her Bachelor’s in Biopsychology Cognitive Neuroscience from the University of Michigan in May of 2022. She is interested in pursuing a PhD in clinical psychology and hopes to expand her research interests by working with Polk Lab. She wants to continue studying and learning about psychopathology, cognition, and coding.
Shijie is a Master’s student in Computer Science and Engineering. He joined Polk lab in 2021, and is currently working on a project that uses dense person-specific imaging and computational approaches to examine individual differences in cognitive control. Shijie has a decent experience in machine learning in the past and is very excited to utilize his skill set to explore the brain’s social and cognitive functions through neuroimaging. He hopes to apply to PhD programs in cognitive and social neuroscience in the near future.
Gregory is a senior 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 is a senior 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.
Nikhil is a senior 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.
Allison is a senior majoring in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience. She joined the Polk Lab in Spring 2022. She enjoys learning about the underlying processes behind cognitive problems and mental disorders. She is hoping to attend graduate school to get either a Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology or an MSW after completing her undergraduate education.
Erin is a sophomore intending to major in psychology. She joined the Polk Lab in Winter 2023 and is interested in learning more about the study of cognition and the psychological research process. She aspires to attend graduate school for a master’s of science in psychology or clinical psychology. With training as a researcher and clinical therapist, she hopes to make a difference in the lives of those struggling with mental health and cognitive impairments.
Shruthi is a sophomore majoring in Computer Science and Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience. She joined the Polk Lab in Winter 2023, and she is excited to learn about age-related differences in neural activation patterns. In her free time, Shruthi enjoys hiking and playing tennis.
Beatrice is a sophomore majoring in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience, minoring in Statistics, who joined the Polk Lab in Winter 2023. She is excited to learn more about the concept of neural distinctiveness and its correlation to neuropsychological illness. Beatrice hopes to pursue a doctoral degree after graduation.
Zhuo (Zoey) Li
Zhuo is a sophomore planning to major in BCN and Economics. She joined the Polk Lab in Winter 2023 and she is excited to learn about the aging brain and interventions for Alzheimer’s Disease. In her free time, Zhuo enjoys playing basketball, cooking, and singing.
Shangjun (Steven) Meng
Steven is a sophomore majoring in cognitive science and computer science who joined Polk Lab in January 2023. Steven is interested in the computational modeling of neural pathways that support consciousness and decision-making processes. He plans on continuing his academic pursuit in both subjects in graduate school.
Ananya is a sophomore majoring in Cognitive Science on the computations track with a minor in computer science. She is interested in how artificial intelligence has grown and will continue to grow and become more human-like. Studying human cognition and cognitive processes is essential in building an AI that can resemble human behavior. Ananya enjoys singing for hours on end, watching Netflix, and hanging out with her friends.
Milena is a first year student majoring in Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience. She joined Polk Lab in Winter 2023, and she is excited to learn more about cognition, abnormalities, and neuroimaging. In her free time she enjoys dancing and traveling.
Liv is a sophomore majoring in Cognitive Science, focusing on computation and cognition. She joined the Polk lab in Winter 2023, and is looking forward to researching context dependent states of fear and extinction, through coding virtual reality environments. Liv wants to continue researching cognitive science topics like perception and consciousness, and potentially attend grad school to further her education on topics of coding and cognition.
Sufyan is a sophomore majoring in BCN and plans on attending dental school after graduation. He joined the Polk lab in Winter 2023 and is interested in delving into neuroscience, human decision-making behavior, and psychology research. He is also on the cheer team at Michigan and enjoys playing basketball in his free time.
Oreen is a freshman planning to major in Cognitive Science. She joined the Polk Lab in Winter 2023, and is excited to learn more about the mechanisms of human fear extinction and how virtual reality can be used to explore this topic. In her free time, she enjoys being outside and baking.
Abby is a Junior majoring in Biopsychology Cognition and Neuroscience on the pre-med track. She looks forward to one day becoming a child psychiatrist and living on a beach with her many dogs. She joined the Polk Lab in the Winter of 2023 and is particularly interested in learning about the connection between the brain, behavior, and mental health. In her free time, you can find Abby thrifting, crocheting, or taking her roommate’s dog on walks in the arb.
Emma is a freshman majoring in biochemistry. She joined the Polk Lab in Winter 2023. Emma is interested in studying the neural mechanisms of health and disease, and she plans to pursue a doctoral degree after graduation. In her free time, Emma enjoys practicing yoga, thrifting, and traveling.
PICTURES OF THE TEAM