Lab Alumni

Postdoctoral Fellows

Nicolò Cesana-Arlotti [personal webpage]
At JHU: Postdoctoral Fellow (2022-2023)
Now: Assistant Professor, Yale University

Nico studies the origins of logical reasoning, including how this capacity crops up in surprising places like the minds of preverbal infants and the visual systems of adults. He came to us from the Halberda lab here at JHU, and received his PhD from Universitat Pompeu Fabra. With us, he explored how logical inferences may be carried out automatically and leave traces in visual attention, as reflected in reaction times on incidental tasks. Nico loves espresso.

Jorge Morales [lab webpage]
At JHU: Postdoctoral Fellow (2018-2021)
Now: Assistant Professor, Northeastern University

Jorge is interested in the nature of subjectivity. In the lab, he studied how subjectivity structures our perceptual experiences, did independent research on how we introspect our conscious states, and laid out a research program at the intersection of the philosophy and psychology of perception. Jorge now runs his own lab at Northeastern, where he is a professor in both Psychology and Philosophy. Jorge takes photographs and makes cocktails (sometimes together).

Alon Hafri [lab webpage]
At JHU: Postdoctoral Fellow (2019-2022)
Now: Assistant Professor, University of Delaware

Alon studies how language encodes scene structure (e.g., what is in, on, above, or below what), as well as the perceptual processes that extract such information. While at JHU, Alon discovered an intriguing new form of psychokinesis, and brought glory to the lab by winning the department's Halloween costume contest. Alon is now a professor at the University of Delaware, running the Perception & Language lab. He also makes beer and soup, and performs in an annual Purim play.

Graduate Students

Zekun Sun [personal webpage]
At JHU: Graduate Student (2017-2023)
Now: Postdoctoral Fellow, Yale University

Zekun has interests in the perception of complexity — why some objects look informationally dense or sparse, and how to study this topic in new and creative ways. Her previous work at the Chinese Academy of Sciences explored visual attention to painful images (such as a hammer hitting a hand), including one study in which she inflicted actual pain on her subjects by attaching a contact-heat thermode to their arms. For this reason, we don't mess with Zekun.

Austin Baker [personal webpage]
At JHU: Visiting Graduate Student (2018-2019)
Now: Postdoctoral Assistant Professor, Rutgers Center for Cognitive Science

Austin studies the overlap of perception and social cognition, including how our worldview impacts perceptual and cognitive judgments about the people we see. Austin earned a PhD in Philosophy from Rutgers in 2019 and spent their final year of graduate school in our lab. Austin has worked in a congressional office, been a community organizer, and worked to make academia more inclusive. They also like 80s and 90s cult sci-fi.

Chenxiao Guan [personal webpage]
At JHU: Graduate Student (2017-2022; co-advised by Jon Flombaum)
Now: Postdoctoral Fellow, Zhejiang University

Chenxiao studies connections between what we see and what we can create, including how we see objects that can make something new. She came to us from the University of Rochester, where she studied affordances in the CAOs Lab and took advanced math courses for fun. While here at Hopkins, Chenxiao won the William James Prize from the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, managed our lab's first mascot, and instituted a lab dress code.

Research Assistants

Patrick Little
Research Assistant (2017-2019); Lab Manager (2019-2020)

Pat was a member of JHU's Class of 2019, until he graduated early to live his best life. He became our lab's first member in 2017, winning a Summer Training and Research Award and turning viral memes into science. He even stuck around as our lab manager until we finally let him move to Todd Gureckis's lab at NYU for his PhD. Though Pat has left our lab, he has never left our hearts, minds, Slack workspace, lab meetings, or collaborations (sorry Todd).

Jose Rivera-Aparicio
Lab Manager (2017-2019)

Jose was our very first lab manager (from the summer of 2017 until 2019), having come to us from Mariko Moher's Lab at Williams College. We vividly remember his time at JHU — though the paper he published while here makes that a bit confusing to think about. Jose is now pusuing a legal career after enrolling as a law student at the University of Puerto Rico. He is also a competitive Super Smash Bros. player, where his main is Peach. You can see him blast Dr. Mario into another dimension here.

Subin Han
Research Assistant (2019-2021)

Subin is a JHU grad who joined the lab in Summer 2019 as an intern, working on the "shape bias" in object naming. Apparently we didn't scare her off, because she returned the next summer to get back at it. Subin likes learning languages (so far: English, Korean, Chinese), was a member of Baltimore First, and misses her dog Mong-yi. She now works at the University of Oregon, as the lab manager for Brice Kuhl's group.

Axel Bax [personal webpage]
Research Assistant (2019-2021)

Axel graduated from JHU in 2021 and now works as an
admissions counselor here. He used a laser cutter and Raspberry Pi to run our lab's first "real world" vision experiment, on perspectival representation in perception. Axel likes to cook, and is somehow also a professional futsal player. Really: He plays for the Baltimore Kings, and once competed for a national championship with a broken wrist. Here are his sick highlights. By a 10-1 lab vote, Axel has the coolest name in cognitive science.

David Schwitzgebel
Research Assistant (2019-2021)

David joined our lab in 2019 to pursue a project on "possible objects" in perception. He majored in cognitive science at Vassar College, and now works with Brent Strickland as a PhD student at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. David sings baritone in a choir, is a self-described science-fiction geek, and recently became a citizen of Luxembourg though a "convoluted ancestral technicality" that his aunt discovered. His favorite pizza topping is bananas.

Isabel Won [personal webpage]
Research Assistant (2018-2020)

Isabel majored in psychology and cognitive science at JHU, and became our lab's resident
3D-printing expert through her work on a mind-bending illusion of weight perception. She was a member of the Hopkins Symphony Orchestra, and has been playing the cello since age six. (Here she is performing Haydn's Cello Concerto No. 2 in her home state of New Jersey.) Isabel now works in tech, focusing on user interface design.

Michael Lepori
Research Assistant (2018-2020)

Mikey studied physics and computer science at JHU. He's interested in the intersection of AI and psychology, and his main project in our lab involved understanding strange demonic messages that possess machines. Mikey enjoys hiking and making music: He's in a band, and is currently attempting the Adirondack 46 challenge. Mikey will soon be a PhD student at Brown University, but before that is working for a tech startup.

Zhenglong Zhou
Research Assistant (2018-2019)

Zhenglong was a member of the JHU Class of 2019 and majored in cognitive science and math. In our lab, he explored how similar the human mind is to various sophisticated machine-learning systems, by asking how humans perceive images that fool machines. Zhenglong is now a grad student at Penn, where he works with Anna Schapiro. He also plays funky jazz guitar and sends Chaz groovy jazz-fusion recommendations.

J.J. Valenti
Research Assistant (2017-2018)

J.J. graduated from JHU in 2018 with majors in cognitive science and philosophy. He published a paper about yellow bananas and red hearts, and he technically earned our lab its first ever 'grant' when he won a Provost's Research Award in 2017. J.J. was also involved in the PILOT program, as well as the Prometheus Undergraduate Philosophy Journal. He now lives in California, where he works in real estate.