BS, Iowa State University, 1996
PhD, University of Minnesota, 2002
Research Interests: cognitive neuroscience, visual object recognition
Born and raised on a farm in Iowa, I became interested in psychology at Iowa State University when I took a social psychology course and changed my major from computer science to psychology. I hoped to learn how the brain worked so computers could be programmed to do things only humans can do now, known as artificial intelligence. However, I quickly learned that a vast amount is still unknown about how the human mind works and so I started learning more about the brain and cognition. During graduate school at the University of Minnesota, I did behavioral work to study cognition, and also artificial neural-network modeling in an attempt to understand how the computations of the mind are implemented within brain cells. However, I once again realized that very little is known about how cognition is implemented within the substrate of the brain, so I went to Stanford University to do research using neuroimaging techniques such as fMRI to more directly examine how activity in the brain is correlated with various mental processes. I continue research in these areas and enjoy teaching courses about the brain, cognition, and the importance of critical thinking and the scientific approach when learning about the world.