Epstein Lab Research Publications People Links Center for Cognitive Neuroscience University of Pennsylvania

Contact

Russell A. Epstein, PhD
Professor of Psychology
University of Pennsylvania
t:  215.573.3532
f:  215.898.1982
epstein[at]psych.upenn.edu

Mailing Address:
Department of Psychology
University of Pennsylvania
3720 Walnut Street, Solomon Bldg
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6241

Laboratory Address:
Center for Cognitive Neuroscience
Goddard Labs (3rd and 5th floors)
3710 Hamilton Walk
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6241

Announcements

Principal Investigator

Russell Epstein

Russell A. Epstein, PhD
Professor of Psychology
Goddard Laboratories, Office 522
epstein[at]psych.upenn.edu | CV
I am a professor in the psychology department at Penn and I'm pleased to work with all the fine folks below. I got into this business somewhat by accident: after an undergraduate degree in physics at the University of Chicago and a Ph.D. in computer vision with Alan Yuille at Harvard, I wandered into a postdoc with Nancy Kanwisher at MIT just around the time that fMRI was taking off. I then spend 2 years working with John Duncan at the MRC-CBU in the other Cambridge before coming to Penn in 2002. When I'm not thinking about scenes, places, and the brain, I like to talk about politics and ponder the meaning of the word "representation" over a glass or two of beer.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Michael Bonner

Michael Bonner, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Neurology
Goddard Laboratories, Office 315
michafra[at]mail.med.upenn.edu | Homepage
I'm a postdoc in the lab, and I study the interaction of memory and vision in spatial perception. In everyday situations, humans use their memory of environmental structures to plan their movements and to structure their spatial representations. For example, when navigating through a building, we process not only the local spatial layout in each room but also the global spatial layout of how the rooms are connected. In my work, I use multivariate neuroimaging techniques to understand how the brain connects global spatial information stored in memory with local spatial information that is available through perception. This work attempts to understand the neural mechanisms for a basic cognitive process through which humans make sense of the environment. My hope is that it will also illustrate general principles of how perceptual and mnemonic processes interact. Before joining the lab, I studied molecular biology and biochemistry as an undergrad, and then moved into the field of neuroscience for graduate school. My PhD work examined the interaction of perception and memory in semantic representation.

Steven Marchette

Steven Marchette, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Psychology
Goddard Laboratories, Office 315
stmar[at]sas.upenn.edu
I did my graduate work with Amy Shelton studying the principals of human spatial memory, such as reference frame selection, as well as individual differences in the use of memory systems during navigational learning. In September 2011, I joined the Epstein lab to study how humans form memory representations of distinct places they encounter during navigation. I am particularly interested how people establish and maintain their orientation, and how orientation must take into account the hierarchical nature of space. With rooms inside buildings and buildings placed around a college campus, it can be quite tricky to reorient yourself. It's turtles all the way down, as a famous Dr. once said! Other things that occupy my time and brain include exploring Philadelphia and learning to live in a real city, reading, my cat Sasha, and playing board games with friends.

Maria Olkkonen

Maria Olkkonen, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Psychology
Goddard Laboratories, Office 321
mariaol[at]sas.upenn.edu | Homepage
I did my PhD with Karl Gegenfurtner in Giessen on color constancy, and after that studied color and material perception as a postdoctoral fellow with David Brainard at Penn and Sarah Allred at Rutgers. The central question of my research is how do observers estimate invariant object properties in varying environments, and how does previous knowledge about the world aid in this estimation process? I have recently become interested in different types of Bayesian modeling approaches in addressing these questions, and I am excited to use fMRI as a tool to better understand the brain mechanisms underlying the combination of prior knowledge with sensory information. Some questions that I look forward to addressing in the lab: how and where is prior information/expectations combined with sensory evidence? How are expectations about events formed? Is there a difference between expectations formed throughout an individual's life history and expectations formed in a single experiment? Besides enjoying science in Philadelphia, I enjoy biking around Philadelphia and trying out all the awesome restaurants (Go Vedge!).

Graduate Students

Alon Hafri

Alon Hafri
Graduate Student, Psychology
Goddard Laboratories, 3rd Floor
ahafri[at]gmail.com
I started in September 2012 as a research assistant in the lab working on MVPA analysis. Before that, I worked for 3 years in John Trueswell and Lila Gleitman's language lab. My research projects have focused on event perception, including visual examination on interacting events and gist extraction from event scenes. I am an avid soup-maker and play music in a band called The Really Cooks.

Josh Julian

Josh Julian
Graduate Student, Psychology
Goddard Laboratories, 3rd Floor
joshua.b.julian[at]gmail.com
I am interested in tackling questions of scene perception, navigation, and spatial cognition. In particular, what cognitive and neural systems support our ability to perceive the environment, and use that information to navigate? What representations and computations are involved? How do such systems develop, and change a result of abnormal development? To investigate such questions, I draw on theoretical perspectives from multiple fields, including psychology, neuroscience, cognitive science, and computer vision, and use a variety of experimental techniques, such as psychophysics, neuroimaging, and transcranial magnetic stimulation. Prior to joining the lab, I graduated from Binghamton University (SUNY) with bachelor's degrees in mathematical physics, philosophy, and mathematics, pursued graduate work in philosophy at Tufts University, and worked a research assistant in Nancy Kanwisher's cognitive neuroscience lab at MIT.

Teresa Pegors

Teresa Pegors
Graduate Student, Psychology
Goddard Laboratories, Office 307
tpegors[at]sas.upenn.edu | homepage
I am interested in the neural correlates of subjective responses to environments. What happens in the brain when we evaluate a place as beautiful or ugly? How does a "restorative" place affect emotion and attention processing? More broadly, I'm interested in the frontal network involved in subjective evaluations of stimuli (such as the orbitofrontal cortex) and in what ways this network might be organized according to stimulus and reward properties.

Lindsay Vass (Morgan)

Lindsay Vass (Morgan)
Graduate Student, Neuroscience
Goddard Laboratories, Office 320
lmo[at]mail.med.upenn.edu | Homepage
I'm interested in how the brain represents spatial information used for navigation. My graduate work has focused on how you represent where you are (e.g., 37th & Spruce St.), what direction you're facing (e.g., North), and the positions of landmarks in the environment. I've been using fMRI multi-voxel pattern analysis to understand how this information is coded in the brain. When I'm not answering questions about when I'll graduate, I enjoy thrifting, crafting, cooking, observing cat behavior in response to a variety of stimuli, and drinking wines with animals on the label.

 

Research Specialists

John Ryan

John Ryan
Research Specialist, Psychology
Goddard Laboratories, Office 320
jack[dot]jackryan[at]gmail.com
I received my B.A. in Psychology from Temple University in August 2012. While at Temple, I worked in the intersection of Spatial Cognition and the Geosciences under the guidance of Thomas F. Shipley. My undergraduate thesis examined specific mechanisms involved in visualizing object intersections. I'm very excited to work with and learn from the wonderful people above.

Undergraduate Researchers

Peter Bryan Peter Bryan
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Sara Diaz Sara Diaz
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Monica Osher Monica Osher
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Nicole Paul Nicole Paul
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Lab Alumni

Postdoctoral Fellows

Seth Bouvier Seth Bouvier, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Psychology
sethbouvier[at]gmail.com

Victor Schinazi Victor Schinazi, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Psychology
v.schinazi[at]gmail.com

Sean MacEvoy Sean MacEvoy, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Psychology
Currently: Assistant Professor at Boston College
sean.macevoy.1[at]bc.edu

Graduate Students

Matt McCabe Matt McCabe
Graduate Student, Psychology

Marieta Pehlivanova Marieta Pehlivanova
Rotating Graduate Student, Psychology
marieta[at]sas.upenn.edu

Marcelo Gomes Mattar Marcelo Gomes Mattar
Rotating Graduate Student, Psychology
Goddard Laboratories, 5th Floor
mattar[at]sas.upenn.edu

Vanessa Troiani Vanessa Troiani
Current Post-Doc at Temple University

troiani[at]gmail.com

Research Specialists

Anthony Stigliani Anthony Stigliani
Research Specialist Emeritus
Currently: PhD Candidate at Stanford
astiglia[at]stanford.edu

Mary Smith Mary Smith
Research Specialist Emeritus
Currently: PhD Candidate at UCSD
maryesmith[at]gmail.com

Emily Ward Emily Ward
Research Specialist Emeritus
Currently: PhD Candidate at Yale
emily.ward[at]yale.edu

Whitney Parker Whitney Parker
Research Specialist Emeritus

Steve Higgins Steve Higgins
Research Specialist Emeritus

Alana Feiler Alana Feiler
Research Specialist Emeritus

Undergraduate Researchers

Ben van Buren Ben van Buren
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Ross Avila Ross Avila
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Beth Lovisa Beth Lovisa
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Karen Jablonski Karen Jablonski
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Laboratory Mascot

Munchkin Munchkin
Lab Mascot Emeritus