Principal Investigator

Jesse Rissman

Dr. Jesse Rissman is an Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA. He is also a faculty member of the Brain Research Institute, the Integrative Center for Learning and Memory, and the Staglin Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. He received his PhD from the University of California, Berkeley and completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Stanford University. His research program utilizes behavioral, functional neuroimaging, and brain stimulation techniques to investigate the neurocognitive mechanisms supporting human memory and its goal-directed control.


Graduate Students

Da Yeoun (Hanna) Moon

Da Yeoun (Hanna) Moon graduated from San Diego State University in 2020 with a BA in Psychology and a minor in Statistics. There she examined how genetic factors, socioeconomic status, and psychopathology intersect to affect cognitive performance and brain structure across different stages of development. For her senior thesis, Hanna worked with Dr. Lisa Eyler at UC San Diego to investigate the differential effect of APOE e4 on cognitive performance and brain health (i.e. BrainAGE) in individuals with and without bipolar disorder. Now as a grad student in the Cognitive Neuroscience PhD program at UCLA, Hanna hopes to use multivariate fMRI analysis to examine how neural representations of semantic memory interact with different external (e.g., stimuli modality, reward) and internal (e.g., emotion, curiosity) processes to affect mnemonic decision-making. Hanna was recently awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship.

Mary Vitello

Mary Vitello graduated with a BA from Sarah Lawrence College in 2019. As an undergraduate, she worked with Dr. Adam Brown researching behavioral and neural memory alterations in depression and PTSD. Mary is currently a graduate student in the Cognitive Psychology graduate program at UCLA. Following from her work in undergrad, she is interested in: (1) investigating how temporal information is encoded and retrieved from long term memory; (2) investigating how encoding and retrieval of temporal contexts are influenced by perception, attention, and emotional states; and (3) how dysfunctional memory in psychiatric conditions may hold insights into the function and structure temporal contexts in episodic memory. Mary was awarded the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship in 2021.

Samantha Walters

Samantha Walters graduated from UC Santa Cruz with a BS in Cognitive Science. There, she assisted Dr. Margaret Wilson in investigations of working memory, synesthesia, and embodied cognition. She also worked with Dr. Peter Cook to measure the effects of hippocampal injury on spatial navigation and experiential memory in pinnipeds. After graduating, Samantha joined an Artificial Intelligence start-up company where she co-designed a Natural Language Processor and the knowledge structure and inference capabilities of the AI brain. She then worked as a clinical research assistant in the Healthy Aging Study under Dr. Joel Kramer at the UCSF Memory & Aging Center. She also worked with Dr. Adam Staffaroni to study how graph metrics derived from task-free fMRI are associated with changes in executive functions, episodic memory, and processing speed in functionally intact older adults. She is broadly interested in the functional neural correlates of memory and attention, and how these systems change during aging.

Fleming Peck

Fleming Peck graduated from Princeton University in 2020 with a major in Neuroscience and minors in Computer Science and Cognitive Science. Throughout college, she worked with Dr. Fumiko Hoeft to summarize the neural correlates of reading behaviors associated with dyslexia, and she assisted fNIRS visits and developed a computer vision algorithm to semi-automatically label infant participant gaze with Dr. Casey Lew-Williams at the Princeton Baby Lab. Her senior thesis applied machine learning to EEG data to predict future diagnosis of Autism Spectrum Disorder, working with Drs. Charles Nelson, Carol Wilkinson, and Laurel Gabard-Durnam. She later worked with Dr. April Levin at Boston Children’s Hospital/Harvard Medical School on projects aimed at characterizing the brain activity associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. Now as a student in UCLA’s Cognitive Neuroscience PhD program, Fleming is broadly interested in studying the neural correlates of attention and memory, with an emphasis on the interplay between context changes and statistical learning. She was awarded an NSF Graduate Research Fellowship for 2022-2024.

Stephanie Wert

Stephanie is a Cognitive Neuroscience PhD student studying the neural mechanisms of learning, memory, and decision-making. She works primarily with Dr. Barbara Knowlton and collaborates with Dr. Rissman. She is broadly interested in using neuroimaging, brain stimulation, and eye-tracking techniques to elucidate causal mechanisms behind these functions in humans. She graduated from Northwestern University in 2017 with a BA in Neuroscience and Psychology. While at Northwestern, she worked with Dr. Eva Redei, investigating a genetic rat model of depression. After graduation, she was a Research Assistant with Dr. Joel Voss, using transcranial magnetic stimulation to probe memory in younger and older adults. She then led MRI and EEG data collection with infants and children for Dr. Laurie Wakschlag and Dr. Elizabeth Norton’s Mental Health Earlier Synthetic Cohort. Stephanie hopes to integrate all her interests into her future research career.

Jonathan Morrow

Jonathan Morrow graduated from St. Olaf College in 2020 with a BA in Psychology and a concentration in Neuroscience. He then got a Master’s in Neuroscience from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland in 2021. There he worked with Dr. James Ainge to study how environmental enrichment affects episodic memory and patterns of exploratory activity in rodents. As part of this project, Jonathan used machine learning models to label recordings of rodent activity during exploration tasks and track movement on a frame-by-frame basis. As a graduate student at UCLA, Jonathan is interested in understanding how transcranial brain stimulation can alter episodic learning and memory. He is broadly interested in the neural correlates of episodic and semantic learning and memory and how they are affected by different internal (motivation, arousal, etc.) and external (environmental context, reward, etc.) factors in both healthy and clinical populations.


Lab Alumni (former grad students)

Dr. Michael S. Cohen (now a postdoc at University of Chicago)

Dr. Andrew J. Westphal (now a postdoc at UCSF)

Dr. Natalie G. De Shetler (now a Staff Data Scientist at Intuit)

Dr. Tiffany E. Chow (now a postdoc at UCSF)

Dr. Joey Ka-Yee Essoe (now an Assistant Professor at University of Maine)

Dr. Nicco Reggente (now a Project Officer at the Tiny Blue Dot Foundation)

Dr. Joseph Hennessee (now a postdoc at UT Dallas)

Dr. Mouslim Cherkaoui (now Lead Behavioral Scientist at Perx Health)

Dr. Catherine Walsh (now a staff scientist at the National Institute of Mental Health)