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Our Team

Elizabeth Brannon 

Principle Investigator

Edmund J. and Louise W. Kahn Term Chair
Professor, Dept. of Psychology

Curriculum Vitae
Google Scholar
Email: ebrannon@sas.upenn.edu
Department Link: UPenn Department of Psychology

Dr. Elizabeth M. Brannon graduated Summa Cum Laude from The University of Pennsylvania, where she received her B.A. in Physical Anthropology in 1992. She received a Masters degree in Anthropology and a PhD in Psychology from Columbia University. She has been at Duke in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience and the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience since the year 2000 and was promoted to Associate Professor in 2008 and Full Professor in 2012. She is currently the Director of Graduate Studies for the Cognitive Neuroscience Admitting Program (CNAP) and the head of the developmental area within P&N. She maintains a secondary appointment in the department of Evolutionary Anthropology.

She has received numerous academic awards and honors including the Young Investigator Award from The Society for Experimental Psychology, a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, a Merck Scholar Award, and a James McDonnell Scholar Award. She is on the editorial board of Cognition, Journal of Experimental Psychology: Animal Behavior Processes, Psychological Science, and Infancy. Dr. Brannon’s research is funded by The National Institutes of Health and The National Science Foundation. She teaches courses on cognitive development and comparative psychology and maintains two laboratories focused on quantitative cognition in nonhuman primates and human infants.

Rosa Rugani

Postdoctoral Associate

Website: https://www.linkedin.com/in/rosarugani
Email: rugani@sas.upenn.edu

Rosa Rugani is an experimental psychologist specialized in the
developmental and evolutionary origin of numerical competences. After receiving a Master’s degree in Psychology and a PhD in Experimental Psychology at the University of Padova, she carried out her research activity in the Department of General Psychology at the same
university and at the Center for Mind/Brain Sciences of the University of Trento. She was a visiting researcher at the Center for Avian Cognition of the Saskatchewan University (Canada), at the Center for
Cognitive Neuroscience, Duke University, North Carolina (USA), and in the Department of Psychology at the University of Potsdam (Germany). She is an expert of comparative cognition, experiment’s design, brain lateralization and numerical cognition. In 2008 she received the “Giovani Studiosi” Grant from the University of Padova to investigate the left-right asymmetries in spatial numerical processing. In 2017 she was also awarded by the German Academic Exchange Service. Her research activity is currently funded by a H2020-MSCA-IF-2017 Global fellowship “SNANeB – At the roots of Spatial Numerical Association: From
behavioural observation to Neural Basis”, Prot. n. 795242- SNANeB. In the Brannon Lab, she works to unveil the origin of the Spatial Numerical Association (SNA). Humans represent numbers on a left to right oriented mental number line, with small numbers located on the left and large ones on the right. It has been suggested that the left-to-right orientation of the mental number line emerges as a result of exposure to formal instruction. Recent evidence has shown that pre-verbal infants and animals associate numbers with space; suggesting that the SNA originates from pre-linguistic and biologically determined precursors. Our challenge is to explain how the neural substrate can determine a left-to-right orientation of the SNA.

Stephanie Bugden
Postdoctoral Associate

Website:  http://web.sas.upenn.edu/sdbugden/
Email: sdbugden@sas.upenn.edu

Stephanie received her PhD from the University of Western Ontario, Canada, where she worked with Dr. Daniel Ansari. Her research focused on characterizing the numerical deficits of children with persistent dyscalculia, a specific math learning disorder, using both behavioral and functional neuroimaging tools.  Her present work focuses on examining the neural plastic changes induced by approximate arithmetic training in both children and adults and exploring the mechanisms underlying transfer effects of approximate arithmetic training on symbolic math.

Nick DeWind
Postdoctoral Associate

Website: https://nickdewind.com/
Email: dewind@sas.upenn.edu

Nick is broadly interested in neural computations and how perceptual codes become action codes. His present work focuses on the neural coding of numerosity in the posterior parietal area.

Chuyan Qu

Graduate Student
Chuyan’s research interests lie primarily in the foundations of mathematical thought. She received her B.S. in Psychology at Beijing Normal University in 2019, where she researched attention and cognitive development. She previously worked in the Brain Development Lab at Vanderbilt University under Dr. James Booth studying neural correlates of longitudinal improvement in arithmetic. Currently, she is particularly interested in how basic intuitions connect to highly abstract mathematical concepts. Her present work focuses on examining whether non-symbolic, approximate calculation can function as a bridge between our Approximate Number System and symbolic mathematics for both children and adults. She is also interested in exploring possible parallels of cognitive and neural processes involved in representing number, space and time on the fundamental nature of quantity.

Nuwar Ahmed

Research Associate

Undergraduate Researchers

Former Lab Members

Former Graduate Students

Dr. Kerry Jordan, Associate Professor Utah State University Lab
Dr. Jessica Cantlon, Associate Professor Carnegie Mellon Lab
Dr. Nick DeWind, Postdoctoral Associate University of Pennsylvania Site
Dr. Sarah Jones, Assistant Professor Berea College Site
Dr. Melissa Libertus, Associate Professor University of Pittsburgh Lab 
Dr. Rosa Li, Postdoctoral Associate Duke University Site
Dr. Ariel Starr, Assistant Professor University of Washington Site
Dr. Emily Szkudlarek, Postdoctoral Associate University of Wisconsin Site

Former Lab Managers

Dr. Evan MacLean, Assistant Professor Anthropology University of Arizona Lab 
Dr. Umay Suanda, Assistant Professor University of Connecticut Lab 
Dr. Emily Hopkins, Assistant Professor University of Scranton Site
Rachel Roberts, Graduate Student Psychology U of Michigan Site
Monica Carlson, Graduate Student Biology Princeton Lab 

Former Post Doctoral Associates

Dr. Sara Cordes, Associate Professor Boston College Site
Dr. Kerry Lewis Graham, Associate Professor Texas State University Site
Dr. Joonkoo Park, Assistant Professor UMass Amherst Lab 
Dr. Michael Pinhas, Assistant Professor Ariel University, Israel Site
Dr. Jamie Roitman, Associate Professor University of Illinois Chicago Lab