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Lab Alumni

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Solena Mednicoff

Post-Doc

Solena (she/her) is a post-doctoral researcher working with Drs. Erin Hannon, Joel Snyder, and Stephen Benning to study Misophonia. Her research interests include the neuroscience behind why we enjoy music and how the brain interprets and responds to music. Growing up in Las Vegas, Solena trained as a semi-professional pianist and graduated from the Las Vegas Academy of the Performing Arts. After high school, Solena discovered her passion for science at University of Nevada, Reno where she earned a B.S. in Neuroscience and minor in piano performance. Solena went on to earn her Ph.D. in Cognitive Sciences, with an emphasis in Cognitive Neuroscience, at UC Irvine where her dissertation examined the cognitive and neural mechanisms of major/minor musical mode processing.

Jared Leslie

Graduate Student

Jared graduated from UNLV in December 2018 with a major in Psychology and a minor in Neuroscience. He is currently a pursuing a Ph.D. in the Psychological and Brain Sciences program with a focus in Development. He has interest in language acquisition, tempo perception and neural development. He plays several percussion instruments with his favorite being the Marimba. Outside of school he enjoys hiking, reading, and volunteering with various community service organizations.

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Shanika Wickramarachchi

Graduate Student

Shanika (She/Her/Hers) is a first year Ph.D. student in the Psychological Brain Sciences (PBS) program at UNLV. She is hoping to study the impact culture can have on gender identity and sexuality, particularly in those identifying with a multicultural background. Prior to starting PBS, Shanika worked as a Registered Behavior Tech, where she had the opportunity to work with children with Autism to help them with skills acquisition and communication. Shanika graduated from the University of Nevada, Reno in Spring 2022. She graduated with Honors and holds a BA in Psychology with a Research Emphasis and a BA in Sociology, along with a minor in Social Research and Applied Statistics. Outside of studying and research, Shanika loves exploring national parks, collecting crystals, and hiking.

Sivan Barashy

Lab Manager

Sivan is a post-baccalaureate lab manager and research coordinator of the Misophonia project. She graduated from UC San Diego in June of 2021 with a B.S. degree in Human Health Psychology. She is currently in her second gap year and will start a Ph.D. in clinical psychology at ASU in Fall 2023 with a focus on cannabis research. Sivan was born and raised in Las Vegas and has returned from San Diego to be a part of our lab. On her free time, Sivan enjoys listening to music, singing, watching comedy series, and reading. She also loves to hike and to travel the world.

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Maxwell Kayser

Maxwell is a former lab manager pursuing a doctoral degree in Psychological and Brain Sciences at UNLV under Dr. David Copeland. His research focuses on the intersection of music and memory, with research interests in memory for music, neural substrates of memory and music, perception of tonal and rhythmic aspects of music, and effects of musical training on cognition. Outside of the lab, he likes to play French horn and piano, along with weighlifting and tennis.

Destiny Gonzales

Destiny Gonzales graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a B.S. in Psychology and Design Strategies certificate. As a research assistant for Dr. Lewis-Peacock's Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, she gained experience with fMRI, in-lab, and online human memory studies. She collaborated on an EEG experiment for tracking and decoding cross-sensory spatial memory, as well as conducted an honors thesis to explore the impact of musical earworms on auditory working memory performance. During her graduate assistantship with Drs. Erin Hannon and Joel Snyder, she worked with the UNLV Music Lab to explore the relationships between auditory affective processing, musicality, and misophonia. She is currently working as a Lead UX Researcher at a startup to develop music-based mental health tools and game-based therapeutics.

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Karli Nave

Karli Nave graduated with a Ph.D. in Psychological and Brain Sciences in Fall 2021. While at UNLV, she studied with both Dr. Erin Hannon in the Auditory Cognition and Development Lab (Music Lab) and Dr. Joel Snyder in the Auditory Cognition and Neuroscience lab. Her research is in auditory neuroscience, with a focus on music cognition. During her PhD, Karli studied the development of rhythm processes, including musical beat perception, the development of rhythmic categories through rhythmic production, the relation between rhythm and language, and how conscious perception of musical beat is evident in listeners' brain activity. She also led a multi-lab EEG replication study on auditory steady-state responses to musical beat. After graduation, Karli accepted a position as a post-doctoral scholar in the Music & Neuroscience Lab at Western University (London, Ontario), under the supervision of Dr. Jessica Grahn. Here Karli is continuing to investigate auditory rhythm processing using behavioral and neurological methods. Her current work can be accessed here.

Jessica Nave-Blodgett

Jessica Nave-Blodgett graduated with a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology with a Cognitive Emphasis in Summer 2020. She worked with both Joel Snyder and Erin Hannon, researching questions related to how infants, children, adolescents, and adults perceive, understand, and attend to events in their auditory environment, such as musical rhythms and speech. Her research at UNLV spanned questions such as the development of beat perception, the influence of cultural background and musical expertise on beat and meter perception, the relationships among rhythm perception and speech perception, and more general auditory phenomena such as stream segregation and change deafness. Currently, Jessica is a scientific consultant at Exponent, Inc., and is based in Phoenix, Arizona. At Exponent, she applies her background in auditory sensation and perception and in human cognition and attention to investigate human factors in pedestrian and transportation accidents and injuries, consumer product use and purchasing behavior, communication of risk and compliance with warnings, and human-machine interactions with advanced driving technologies. In her free time, Jessica spends her time mountaineering, hiking, running, cycling, and photographing the amazing natural landscapes of the U.S. Southwest and beyond. She can be found on LinkedIn and her CV can be accessed HERE.

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Samantha O’Connell

Samantha O’Connell graduated in June 2021 with a Ph.D. in Psychology. She was a member of both the UNLV Music Lab and the Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. Sam’s dissertation work investigated how musical and dance sophistication influenced musical groove perception. Currently, she is working as a postdoctoral fellow for the Bionic Ear Lab at the Keck School of Medicine of USC. She uses both EEG and fNIRS technologies to study pitch and rhythm perception in cochlear implant users with the hopes of improving their appreciation of music. When not in the lab, Sam’s an active violinist in the Los Angeles metropolitan area, an executive board member of the Santa Monica Symphony that also enjoys tap dancing, cooking, hiking, yoga, discovering new restaurants, and hanging out with her partner, Mike, and their rescue pup, Molly. Her CV can be accessed here.

Christina Vanden Bosch der Nederlanden

Christina graduated in 2016 with her Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology with a Developmental Emphasis. She worked with both Erin Hannon and Joel Snyder, researching questions related to how infants and children learn about and attend to relevant sounds in their environment, like music and speech. Before that Christina graduated in 2008 from Calvin College in Grand Rapids, MI and worked for 2 years at her Alma Mater’s Center for Social Research. Christina also sings and plays the cello. Christina is now an Assistant Professor of Psychology at University of Toronto at Mississauga and the director of the UTM Lama Lab.

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Jessica Mussio

Jessica Mussio (Fall 2016-Fall 2020) graduated from UNLV with a major in Psychology and a minor in Biology. She earned her Master’s in Special Education with an emphasis in Applied Behavior Analysis in 2022 and is continuing to acquire the certification requirements to become a BCBA in 2023. Her involvement in the field of psychology, particularly at the UNLV Music Lab sparked a love for pursuing a career in therapy. Upon earning her BCBA license, Jessica plans to continue her education to earn her Master's in Clinical Mental Health Counseling to incorporate a breadth of both disciplines. Beyond her studies, Jessica enjoys exploring nature, writing songs, jam sessions, stargazing and loves cats. Through music, she finds inspiration and joy and wants to spread that joy. During the intermissions of life's activities, Jess loves to play piano, guitar and sing. As a therapist, she hopes to incorporate music into therapy to encourage people to find happiness and expression through music.

Andrew Gerthoffer

Andrew graduated from the Clinical Psychology program in 2020, after studying under Dr. Christopher Kearney. His research interests centered on anxiety and stress disorders in children and adolescents. He is now a Clinical Professional Counselor. Drew holds a BA in History from the University of Nevada, Reno (with many, many psychology courses taken along the way). In his spare time, he enjoys running, swimming, and hanging out with friends and family.

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Sarah Paige Werner

Sarah Paige is originally from Virginia. She holds a BM in Music Education and a BS in Psychology from James Madison University, as well as an MS in Educational Psychology from UNLV. She now works as a lab manager at the University of Delaware. In her free time, Sarah Paige enjoys playing her harp, attempting to play a variety of other instruments, board games, and writing.

Parker Tichko

Parker is a former lab coordinator who is a cognitive neuroscientist interested in artificial intelligence (AI), 4E cognition, human development, music cognition, dynamical systems theory, and the brain. For roughly a decade, he conducted academic research investigating the developmental, neurobiological, and computational principles underlying music and language. After turning down a tenure-track academic job and doing a bit of soul-searching, he now works on human-AI systems. During his career in academia, he used a combination of computational and dynamical-systems modeling (e.g., artificial neural networks, oscillatory networks), electrophysiology (e.g., EEG), and behavioral measurements to understand 1) how infants and children acquire language and music skills, 2) how neural activity synchronizes to rhythmic inputs and 3) whether non-invasive, music-based interventions can promote healthy aging.

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Sarah Jones

Sarah is a former lab coordinator. She is now a Licensed Clinical Psychologist at VA Puget Sound HCS - American Lake Division. Her research focuses on women's visual attention to erotic stimuli.

Michael "Stoops" Noh

Michael M.S., is a former lab coordinator pursuing his doctoral degree at University of Wisconsin-Madison in Quantitative Psychology. His research focuses on multilevel modeling in quasi-experimental designs tailored to the realm of education. In his non-existent spare time, Stoops enjoys looking at datasets and pretending that he is a successful general manager for a professional sports team rather than an earnestly poor but happy graduate student. Stoops comes from a family of professional musicians and dabbles in piano, ukulele, guitar, and mario paint. He credits his expert level dance dance revolution skills to working in the auditory cognition lab.

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Sangeeta Ullal

Sangeeta graduated with a Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology with a Cognitive Emphasis in May 2015. Her dissertation focused on neural correlates of experience-driven rhythm and meter processing, and on the interaction between processing of numerosity and musical meters. Sangeeta graduated from McMaster University with a B.Sc. in Biology and Psychology. She has received training in Indian Classical Music (vocal and sitar). Sangeeta is now a Visiting Assistant Professor of Psychology at Hood College in Frederick, MD.

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