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Leyla Isik, Principal Investigator 


Leyla is the Clare Boothe Luce Assistant Professor of Cognitive Science at Johns Hopkins University, and holds appointments in the department of Biomedical Engineering and Kavli Neuroscience Discovery Institute. Her main research interests are in understanding the cognitive and neural basis of dynamic, social  vision, and how we might implement these abilities in AI systems. Before joining JHU, Leyla was a postdoc at MIT and Harvard in the Center for Brains, Minds, and Machines, where she worked with Nancy Kanwisher and Gabriel Kreiman. She received her PhD from MIT where she was advised by Tomaso Poggio, and was an undergraduate right here at JHU.

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Elizabeth Jiwon Im, Lab Manager

Elizabeth graduated from Johns Hopkins University with a BA in Cognitive Science and BA in Medicine, Science and Humanities. While she was an undergrad, she worked with Leyla on an on-going social perception research, and with Dr. Michael McCloskey on developmental dysgraphia and motor plans for handwriting. She is broadly interested in social cognition and is currently investigating social perception and theory of mind neural networks.


Yuan-fang Zhao, Post Doctoral Fellow

Yuanfang obtained his Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience from Beijing Normal University under the supervision of Jia Liu. Prior to joining JHU, Yuanfang worked with Marius Peelen at the Donders Institute as a postdoctoral researcher. His research was primarily centered around utilizing behavioral, EEG, and fMRI techniques to unravel the cognitive and neural foundations of high-level aspect of visual recognition in naturalistic environments.


Colin Conwell, Post Doctoral Fellow

Colin Conwell is a postdoctoral researcher in cognitive neuroscience and machine learning. He received his PhD in Cognition, Brain, and Behavior from Harvard University’s Vision Sciences Laboratory, in the Department of Psychology, working with George Alvarez and Talia Konkle. As an undergraduate he studied International Relations and Comparative Literature. His current research focuses on the intersection between perception and language in biological and artificial intelligence.

Emalie McMahon, PhD Student


Emalie is a PhD student in the Department of Cognitive Science. Prior to joining the lab, she complete a post-baccalaureate research fellowship at the NIH in the lab of Leslie Ungerleider. She completed her undergraduate studies at the University of Tennessee.

Paul Soulos, PhD Student

Paul is a PhD student in the Department of Cognitive Science. He is interested in neurosymbolic computation, reasoning as program induction, and bringing together Cognitive Science and Neuroscience through computational tools and imaging techniques. Before grad school, Paul was a software engineer at Fitbit and Google working on applications and wearable devices. He received his BS in Computer Science and Applied Mathematics and his MS in Cognitive Science at JHU.

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Manasi Malik, PhD Student

Manasi is a PhD student in the Department of Cognitive Science. Prior to joining JHU, she worked at TCS Innovation Labs to develop deep learning models to improve advertising effectiveness. She did her B.Tech from IIIT Delhi and worked on multisensory perception for her bachelors' thesis at National Brain Research Center, India.


Hannah Small, PhD Student


Hannah is a PhD student in the Department of Cognitive Science. She is interested in the spatial organization of the brain. Before joining the lab, she worked on how the brain processes language as a research tech in Ev Fedorenko’s lab at MIT. In undergrad, she studied biology and computer science at University of Richmond, where she researched action potential modulation in an ion-channel electrophysiology lab.


Kathy Garcia, PhD student

Kathy is a PhD student in the Department of Cognitive Science. Prior to joining JHU, she completed a post baccalaureate research fellowship (NU-PREP) at the Northwestern University Interdepartmental Neuroscience program. She also worked as a data consultant in Fortune 100 finance companies after completing her BS at Stanford University.

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