PhD in ACBS Faculty
Drexel’s Applied Cognitive and Brain Sciences program faculty participate in a range of research methods and areas of interest. Core ACBS faculty are listed below, with links to their websites. Other Department of Psychology faculty members participate in the ACBS program on an ad hoc basis.
ACBS Faculty Accepting Students
Evangelia Chrysikou, PhD
How do people use their knowledge about the world to achieve goals and solve problems? Research in my lab focuses on the intersection of three areas within cognitive psychology and cognitive neuroscience, namely memory, language, and action/perception. My lab investigates the flexibility in cognitive control during goal-oriented behavior, with an emphasis on human problem solving and everyday tool use. We use cognitive neuroscience methods (functional and structural MRI, noninvasive transcranial electric stimulation, and lesion studies) to study flexibility in cognitive and emotional regulation, as well as the implications of such flexibility for theories of semantic knowledge organization and cognitive control. I am further exploring the educational applications of cognitive flexibility training paradigms for the development of higher-order thinking in young adults, as well as the translational implications of cognitive flexibility for the characterization of deficient cognitive/executive profiles in depression and other neuropsychiatric disorders marked by prefrontal cortex hypofunction.
John Kounios, PhD
The main focus of my research is the neural basis of creativity, insight, and problem solving. I specialize in high-density electroencephalogram (EEG) recording of brain activity and, through collaborations, also use transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI). Other research interests include cognitive enhancement and neuromarketing.
John Medaglia, PhD
My work focuses on applying models and methods developed in neuropsychology, cognitive neuroscience, and graph theory to understand and treat brain dysfunction and enhance healthy functioning. I am especially interested in various approaches to control in the human brain – how we control ourselves and how control theory can guide noninvasive brain interventions. I use network-based approaches in diverse data modalities including neuroimaging (MRI, fNIRS, EEG), brain stimulation (TMS, tDCS), and behavioral assessment (neuropsychology, cognitive psychology) to meet these goals. Learn more about the Cognitive Neuroengineering and Wellbeing Laboratory: johnmedaglia.com
Fenqing (Zoe) Zhang, PhD
Fengqing (Zoe) Zhang, PhD, is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology. Prior to joining Drexel University, she obtained her PhD degree in Statistics at Northwestern University. Her research interests lie primarily in the development and application of advanced statistical models to analyze complex and high dimensional data (e.g. neuroimaging data, complex behavioral data). In particular, her lab has been focused on using multimodal neuroimaging (e.g., MRI, DTI, fMRI, PET) to examine neurodegenerative diseases (e.g., Alzheimer’s disease) and psychiatric disorders (e.g., PTSD, eating disorders). The modeling approach she takes includes machine learning, Bayesian inference, and high dimensional data analysis. In addition, she works on the statistical methods development for informing real time individualized sequences of treatments (Just-in-Time Adaptive Interventions) and integrating multimodal data generated from wearables (e.g., fitness trackers, heart rate monitors).
Additional Psychology Faculty
Nancy Raitano Lee, PhD
As a child clinical psychologist working within a developmental cognitive neuroscience framework, my research seeks to identify neuropsychological, neurobiological, and genetic contributions to typical and atypical cognitive development through studies of youth with developmental learning disorders and those with typical development. Much of my work over the past several years has focused on three interrelated areas of investigation: (1) refining descriptions of verbal memory and executive functions in Down syndrome, (2) studying the developing brain in Down syndrome, and (3) investigating genetic and neuroanatomical correlates of verbal and executive abilities as well as autistic symptoms in youth with typical development and those with sex chromosome aneuploidies.
Michael Lowe, PhD
My lab conducts research on the prevention and treatment of eating disorders and obesity. I am also interested in biobehavioral factors that predispose some individuals to develop these conditions. I have conducted fMRI and EEG studies to better understand brain processes (e.g., reward, inhibition, impulsivity) that are influential in the development and treatment of obesity and eating disorders.
Maria T. Schultheis, PhD
I am interested in the use of innovative technologies for meeting the clinical needs of individual with neurological compromise. Much of our work is focused on using virtual reality simulation, neuropsychological measures and portable imaging systems (i.e., fNIRS). I work with cognitively impaired populations—traumatic brain injury, multiple sclerosis, stroke, dementia—in order to understand the effects of neurological involvement on functions, such as driving, returning to work and everyday activities of living. Our work intersects psychology, biomedical engineering, transportation, and rehabilitation medicine.
Additional Participating Faculty
Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design
College of Engineering
Eugenia Victoria Ellis, PhD, AIA
As an architect dedicated to re-envisioning the constructed world, I study the visual and non-visual effects of light on design. My work focuses on natural light and health, spatial visualization and three-dimensional imagining, and visual perception and altered states of perception, such as blindness and dementia. At intersections of nature, the built environment and behavior, I investigate (eco)logical building systems, architectural theory and wellbeing with the goal of creating frameworks for the design of sustainable buildings at the nexus of health, energy and technology. My research is interdisciplinary and includes collaborators outside of design in fields such as engineering, information science, biomedical engineering, and the health professions.
Antoinette Westphal College of Media Arts & Design
College of Engineering
College of Arts & Sciences
Frank Lee, PhD
Frank J. Lee, PhD, is a professor of Digital Media in the Westphal College of Media Arts and Design at Drexel University with appointments in Computer Science and Biomedical Engineering. Lee received his PhD in Cognitive Psychology in 2000 from Carnegie Mellon University, and his BA in Cognitive Science in 1994 from UC Berkeley. Lee co-founded Drexel's Game Design Program in 2008, currently ranked as one of the Top 10 Best Game Design Programs in U.S. He is also the founding director of the Entrepreneurial Game Studio at Drexel University, a unique university initiative to teach students entrepreneurship by helping them to form their own game companies. His past projects have won national and international awards and recognition and have received extensive media coverage. His most recent project, Skyscraper Tetris, was mentions in over 1500 news stories worldwide with an estimated 2.2 Billion views. It was also recognized as a Guinness World Record as the Largest Architectural Videogame Display. He was selected as one of the 50 Most Admirable Gaming People of 2014 by Polygon, and one of the Smartest People in Philadelphia by Philadelphia Magazine in 2012.
College of Engineering
Youngmoo Kim, PhD
My interests focus on the machine understanding of sound (particularly music), which includes research projects in human perception and cognition. My research group, the Music & Entertainment Technology Laboratory (MET-lab), actively explores the relationships between sound, emotion, and creative expression as related to both music perception and performance. I am also very interested in human-machine interfaces and robotics, and we develop computational tools and technologies to facilitate expressive interaction. My students and I are also heavily engaged in K-12 outreach programs using music technology to enhance engineering, science, and mathematics education, with a particular emphasis in fostering creativity and innovation at all levels of learning.
Department of Computer Science
My primary interests lie in the intersection of cognition and computation, specifically how to represent cognitive processes in terms of computational simulations. I am especially interested in human multitasking - how people perform two tasks at the same time, and how to understand their behavior and predict when two given tasks might be easier or harder to perform in a multitask setting. For example, our laboratory has done a number of studies and simulations of driver distraction and task interruption; this work has attempted to bridge the gap between basic laboratory studies of multitasking and complex applied tasks as they arise in real-world multitasking contexts.
School of Biomedical Engineering
My research lies in the general area of computational and cognitive neuroscience. I am interested in understanding the relationship of neuronal processes, circuits, and computations to cognitive functions. The major thrust of my work is computational. I use computational approaches to try to forge links between disparate findings from normal and abnormal brain function. My research efforts have been directed toward the development and application of new conceptual and technical tools such as Granger causality for neuroscience. I'm currently focused on a systematic and quantitative study of computational problems in visual selective attention, and on understanding how perception emerges from neural population activity.
College of Nursing & Health Professions
My research interests include: (a) processes and mechanisms involved in the acquisition, retention, and transfer of cognitive and motor skills; (b) neural plasticity as a function of practicing tasks, (c) attentional, and neural mechanisms involved in brain-computer interface research employing biofeedback in learning paradigms, and (d) impact of motor learning principles and functional electrical stimulation in novel training programs for children with cerebral palsy. Currently I am funded to examine the neural mechanisms of contextual interference when learning computer tasks and brain-computer interfaces with the application of biofeedback in a learning paradigm.
College of Medicine
Wen-Jun Gao, PhD
Research Summary: Cerebral cortex, especially prefrontal cortex, is the most complex brain region in the central nervous system. Elucidating its diverse functions represents a major challenge in neurobiology. We are interested in the neuronal mechanisms underlying the synaptic signaling and monoaminergic regulation in the prefrontal cortical circuitry, as well as the critical issues involving neuropathology of mental disorders and other neurological diseases. Specifically, we are taking the advantages of in vivo and in vitro preparations to examine the neuronal signaling in both normal animals and clinical models of psychiatric disorders, such as schizophrenia and ADHD. Work in my laboratory is currently focused in the following projects: 1) monoaminergic (dopamine and norepinephrine) regulation of synaptic transmissions and local circuitry in the prefrontal cortex; 2) postnatal development of prefrontal local circuitry; 3) the roles of NMDA receptors in the schizophrenia pathological process; and 4) psychostimulant actions on the synaptic plasticity and trafficking of glutamatergic receptors. Our research involves a variety of morphological, physiological, pharmacological, and molecular approaches designed to elucidate the synaptic mechanisms underlying the prefrontal functions. Morphological studies include single-cell labeling, neuronal reconstruction, and immunocytochemistry. Physiological, pharmacological and molecular approaches include multiple whole-cell recordings, drug applications, western blotting, and real-time PCR in fresh brain tissues, acute brain slices, and cell culture preparations. These approaches are mutually supportive with a comprehensive integration across disciplines.