Current PhD Students


  ccs profile

Chad Carlson

I’m interested in investigating bistable percepts in human visual motion perception as a way of exploring larger complex patterns in embodied biological systems in general with psychophysical testing and mathematical modeling.


Bryan Conklin

Bryan Conklin

I am currently a PhD candidate at the Center for Complex Systems and Brain Sciences in the Cognitive Neurodynamics laboratory. I hold a BS in mathematics, a BA in philosophy and an MS in computer science.  The long-term aim of my project is to develop a brain-computer-interface (BCI) to improve working memory (WM) function, e.g. in those afflicted with dementias such as Alzheimer’s. WM is a memory subsystem that contains internal representations of recent events for a pending action.  BCIs are neural engineering devices that restore or improve natural central nervous system (CNS) output (Wolpaw & Wolpaw, 2012). They record signals from the brain, extract signal features, and translate those features to commands which are then used to actively perturb, or passively monitor, the CNS. There are currently no BCIs that improve working memory (WM). The first step in creating a BCI to improve human working memory is to identify WM’s relevant features in primate brain activity.  The second step is to confirm the results from primates in the human EEG. This will enable feature extraction for human BCI applications such as WM training, neurofeedback, and transcranial magnetic stimulation.



Alex Clark

I have a BS in Mathematics with a Statistics Minor, and a BA and MA in Philosophy with a focus on Philosophy of Mind.  I believe that Neural Networks and Machine Learning can make valuable improvements to a wide variety of real-world tasks, and can help with a variety of academic and scientific research problems.  In my Doctoral research I would like to implement Neural Networks to mimic human and animal behavior and thereby glean insights into various questions of human cognition and Philosophy of Mind.  I am interested in the intersection of machine vision (powered by neural networks), and optical illusions.


Kenton Macdowell

Kenton Macdowell 

I study functional brain networks involved in the processing the emotional content of facial and vocal expressions.  I am interested in how these networks may differ between clinically normal individuals and those with deficits in this type of processing, such as individuals with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD).  I plan to use functional imaging methods to elucidate these differences.  I have further interest in other sensory processing areas, such as the perception of pitch and music, and have worked in the past on projects related to human evolution, including human brain evolution.



Michael Mannino 

My specific research is in computational cognitive neuroscience and involves the investigation of large-scale neurocognitive or brain networks by analysing simulated data from The Virtual Brain Project using computational causality testing. In general, I am also interested in questions in the philosophy of neuroscience and neurophilosophy --  particularly how a philosophical understanding of concepts such as causality, representation, etc., can help clarify those same concepts as used in neuroscience; and how philosophical concepts, such as morality, can be clarified and perhaps better understood with empirical results from modern neuroscience.


Paul Morris 

Paul Morris

I received my Bachelor’s degree in Computer Science in May 2016, and have been a researcher in the MPCR lab since November 2015. I work with Dr. Elan Barenholtz using deep learning to help solve problems in computational biology. I believe that neural-inspired machine learning techniques are increasingly capable of modelling biological interactions. My goal as a PhD student is to design computer models which can both be used as predictive tools, and reverse-engineered to further our understanding of biology. With the MPCR lab, I designed and implemented a highly accurate, interpretable deep learning tool for early lung, brain, and kidney cancer detection using targeted RNA-Seq data which can be analyzed to find new biomarkers for cancer. I am currently interested in developing algorithms to understand protein folding and molecular interaction in order to assist in designer molecule creation.



Darwin Romulus

I currently hold a BS in Psychology (obtained at CUNY Brooklyn College) and I am working under the mentorship of Dr. Sang Wook Hong. I have research interests in motion perception, visual attention, face perception, and computer vision. I am interested in examining eye fixation patterns in the context of face familiarity. If fixation patterns significantly differ across levels of face familiarity (e.g. unfamiliar vs. familiar faces), this data will allow us to accurately predict whether or not an individual is familiar with a face. Future plans would involve the development of a classification algorithm that would serve as a predictive model. 


Young Seon Shin  

I competed my Bachelor's Degree in Chemistry and Psychology and my MA in cognitive Psychology.  I am currently working with Dr Summer Sheremata.  I am interested in human visual working memory and its neural basis. Currently my study is focusing on the individual difference in working memory capacity and how it leads to different processes.



James Sullivan

I study targeted gene therapy to stop neovascularization in the eye for diseases such as AMD and diabetic retinopathy.  I currently use animal models to study these therapies.



Mike Teti

Michael joined the MPCR lab in February 2015 and received his undergraduate degree in Biology from Florida Atlantic University in August 2016. Before joining the MPCR lab, he modeled the propagation of invasive species throughout Lake Okeechobee and the Florida Everglades in the FAU Geoscience Department. He has since combined cutting edge, neurally-inspired methods in machine learning with his knowledge of remote sensing and GIS to create new ways to solve geospatial problems, such as land cover classification of aerial photographs and autonomous tracking of animal species using drones. Besides working on novel applications for machine learning algorithms, he has also worked to develop new algorithms in the areas of sparse coding, compressive sensing, and locally-competitive neural networks. He believes machines can do anything and is also the CTO of VoxelRx, LLC, an offshoot of the lab dedicated to performing medical imaging using machine learning.




Tatiana Viena

Main research interests include anatomy and physiology of the thalamus, Sleep Gene Polymorphisms (Per3, Dec2), Neurophysiology of Sleep, Stress (acute, chronic stress, cortisol) and Immunity (I-gA responses).  Currently my research focuses on behavioral and electrophysiological properties of midline thalamic cells essential in spatial navigation and higher order cognitive processes, involving animal models.



Mengsen Zhang

I am interested in how complex systems behave on multiple spatiotemporal scales, especially how dynamics on different scales constrain each other. My research falls into two themes: (1) how social behavioral dynamics relates to neural (EEG, fMRI) and physiological (SPR) dynamics, using the Human Dynamic Clamp paradigm where human subjects engage in behavioral coordination with a Virtual Partner (behavior driven by mathematical model of human coordination); and (2) more generally, how multiple dynamic processes interact with each other to produce complex patterns, combining human experiments and mathematical modelling.