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

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 spent 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

Chris Gahnstrom

Chris Gahnstrom, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Psychology
cgahn[at]sas.upenn.edu
I am interested in fundamental and generalizable neural mechanisms underlying cognition. To this end, the field of spatial navigation is especially exciting because it allows us to design experiments using complex yet ecologically valid task paradigms. I use various methods from computational modeling and fMRI to investigate flexible behavior and neural representations in spatial and non-spatial domains. As part of my postdoc, I will work on neural representations of space, reinforcement learning models, and hierarchical planning. Before joining the lab, I completed my PhD as a Marie Skłodowska-Curie fellow at UCL in the lab of Prof. Hugo Spiers where I investigated spatial goal coding in stochastic environments and planning in large state-spaces with licensed London taxi drivers. I have also worked in value-based decision making with Prof. Tobias Donner at UKE in Hamburg, Germany.

Anna Shafer-Skelton

Anna Shafer-Skelton, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Psychology
ashafers[at]sas.upenn.edu
My research aims to understand when/how we form integrated representations of our 3D environments through navigation and visual exploration. How might these representations change depending on our current goals or long-term experience with an environment? What reference frames and what types of visual information might contribute? Before joining the Epstein lab, I completed my PhD with Tim Brady and John Serences, studying working memory for scene-specific representations, as well as neural representations of the 3D geometry of scenes. As a lab manager with Julie Golomb, I investigated the reference frames of different types of visual representations as we visually explore and interact with the world.

Graduate Students

Tony Han

Linfeng (Tony) Han, B.S.
Graduate Student, Psychology
hanlf[at]sas.upenn.edu
My current research focuses on the interplay between perception and spatial cognition. For example, how does the perception of landmarks or local visual environments affect global spatial learning? How do humans integrate visual scenes from multiple viewpoints into a unified spatial representation? Besides these questions, I am also broadly interested in how humans represent spatial and non-spatial contexts, and whether these representations share similar neurocognitive foundations. I aim to explore these questions using a combination of behavioral testing, functional neuroimaging, and computational modeling. Beyond science, I am an amateur pianist, photographer, and Starbucks “been there” series collector.

Asinley Bonin

Ainsley Bonin, B.A.
Graduate Student, Psychology
I am interested broadly in how we structure knowledge at both the mental and neural level, and how we can use that structure to make flexible decisions or generalize to new situations. What is the common computational mechanism in the brain that allows us to remember large-scale environments or complex semantic information? I plan to use a combination of neuroimaging, computational modeling, and behavioral techniques for paradigms across spatial and non-spatial domains. Before joining the Epstein Lab, I was a research assistant in the Huffman Environmental Cognition Lab at Colby College, where I studied the oscillatory dynamics of directional coding.

Research Specialists

Jidong Qi

Jidong Qi, B.S.
Research Specialist & Lab Manager, Psychology
qijidong[at]upenn.edu
My research interests focus on understanding the neural representation of space in humans using fMRI, psychophysics, and computational modeling. For instance, how do human neural systems code local and global cognitive maps and graphs? How might people use cognitive maps and graphs to optimize navigation? I am also broadly interested in visual memory and how visual representations are integrated with information from other senses (e.g., auditory). Before joining the Epstein lab, I worked as an undergraduate research assistant in the Tadin Lab and the Active Perception Lab at the University of Rochester, where I studied audiovisual temporal integration and visual encoding.

Lab Alumni

Postdoctoral Fellows

Zhengang Lu Zhengang Lu, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Psychology
zhengang[at]sas.upenn.edu

Michael Peer Michael Peer, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Psychology
mpeer[at]sas.upenn.edu | Homepage

Sarah Goodroe Sarah Goodroe, PhD
Postdocoral Fellow, Psychology

Iva Brunec Iva Brunec, PhD
Postdocoral Fellow, Psychology
iva.brunec[at]gmail.com

Michael Bonner Michael Bonner, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Neurology
Currently: Assistant Professor at Johns Hopkins University
michafra[at]mail.med.upenn.edu

Steven Marchette Steven Marchette, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Psychology
stmar[at]sas.upenn.edu

Maria Olkkonen Maria Olkkonen, PhD
Postdoctoral Fellow, Psychology
mariaol[at]sas.upenn.edu | Homepage

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

Alon Hafri Alon Hafri
Graduate Student, Psychology
ahafri[at]gmail.com | Homepage

Alexandra Keinath Alexandra Keinath
Graduate Student, Psychology

akeinath[at]sas.upenn.edu

Josh Julian Josh Julian
Graduate Student, Psychology

joshua.b.julian[at]gmail.com

Matt McCabe Matt McCabe
Graduate Student, Psychology

Teresa Pegors Teresa Pegors
Graduate Student, Psychology

tpegors[at]sas.upenn.edu | Homepage

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

Lindsay Vass (Morgan) Lindsay Vass (Morgan)
Graduate Student, Neuroscience

lmo[at]mail.med.upenn.edu | Homepage

Research Specialists

Tamar Japaridze Tamar Japaridze, B.A.
Research Specialist Emeritus

Catherine Nadar Catherine (Cathy) Nadar
Research Specialist Emeritus
Website

Rachel Metzgar Rachel Metzgar
Research Specialist Emeritus
Currently: Research Assistant at MRRI

Stamati Liapis Stamati Liapis
Research Specialist Emeritus

John Ryan John Ryan
Research Specialist Emeritus

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

Hana Flaxman Hana Flaxman
Independent Research Student

Rachel Freilich Rachel Freilich
Independent Research Student

Nicole Paul Nicole Paul
Independent Research Student

Peter Bryan Peter Bryan
Undergraduate Research Assistant

Monica Osher Monica Osher
Independent Research Student

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