Project Team

Principal Investigator

Lori Flanagan-Cato is an Associate Professor in Psychology and co-Director of the Undergraduate Neuroscience Program at Penn.  She received her B.A. (Psychology) from Rutgers College, her Ph.D.  (Neuroscience) from the University of Pittsburgh, and her M.Ed. (Education Policy) from the University of Pennsylvania.  Dr. Flanagan-Cato created the academically based community service course (ABCS) Everyday Neuroscience in 2016, and it has been offered every year since then.  She works closely with teachers at the partner high schools to ensure that Everyday Neuroscience provides a meaningful enrichment to their science curriculum.  From 2019-2022, she was awarded Penn’s Provost-Netter Faculty Fellow for Community Engagement, and she serves on the Netter Center’s Faculty Advisory Board.

Current Penn students

Erin Purvis is a 5th year PhD Candidate in the Neuroscience Graduate Group (NGG at Penn’s Perelman School of Medicine. Erin is conducting her dissertation research in Dr. D. Kacy Cullen’s lab to engineer a new treatment strategy for traumatic brain injury. She has been a member of the Everyday Neuroscience team since Fall 2021. In this regard, Erin is interested in creating a greater connection between community and scientific training for biomedical doctoral students at Penn.

Erin was awarded a 2022-2024 Provost’s Graduate Academic Engagement Fellowship at the Netter Center (PGAEF@NC) to create a formalized academic program for graduate students in the Perelman School of Medicine to get involved in community engagement in West Philadelphia. Starting in Spring 2023, Erin and Professor Flanagan-Cato will co-teach an Everyday Neuroscience ABCS course for BGS students in which they facilitate hands-on engagement with Paul Robeson High School students, develop science education policy proposals, and engage in literature reading and critical discussion on the connection between local engagement and Penn’s academic research.

Sarah Hatch is a 2nd year master’s student at the Graduate School of Education. Before coming to Penn she worked in various informal learning spaces as a teacher, coach, and learning designer.  She has a particular interest in using impact evaluation and implementation science to promote social-emotional development.  While at Penn, Sarah received the Provost’s Graduate Community-Engaged Research Mentorship to examine the impact of the ABCS course Everyday Neuroscience on Penn and Robeson students. She collaborated with Dr. Flanagan-Cato to create a theory of change and logic model for the course and now conducts statiscal analysis in the lab.

Yunshi Luo is a master’s student studying in the Interdisciplinary Studies in Human Development at Penn GSE, with a strong interest in early cognitive development in younger children, as well as education innovation and compassionate study climates.  She is supporting our work with various data analysis projects.  She is also conducting statistical analysis for neuro-clinical data at Penn Medicine and helping the ELA-Literacy project as research assistant at Penn GSE. Two fun facts about Yunshi are that she enjoys pistachio ice cream and has three adorable cats!

Ryan Afreen is a Neuroscience major, conducting an independent study in that will examine the possible long-term effects of out-group social contact on social perceptions.

Previous Penn students

Harrison Fellheimer (Penn ’22) conducted a Neuroscience honors thesis to study the possible effects of spatial reasoning games on cognitive function.

Theodor Lenz (Penn ’22) conducted a Neuroscience honors thesis to study the possible connection between neuroendocrine changes and social perception.

Sneha Sharma (Penn ’22) conducted an honors thesis in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, studying the role of academic motivation in educational acceleration.

Raul Vila (Penn ’22) conducted an independent study in Neuroscience, studying the role of emotional well-being in educational acceleration.

Violet Tu (Penn ’21), a biophysics and neuroscience double major, analyzed possible effects of our Robeson partnership on social perceptions.  She is now a research assistant in auditory neuroscience.

Christina Steele (Penn ’20) completed an award-winning Psychology Honors Thesis in the laboratory of Dr. Adrianna Jenkins entitled “A Real-World Study of the Contact Hypothesis: Intergroup Contact in Academic-Based Service Learning.”  Christina is now a Marshall Scholar.

Peter Nwaoba (Penn ’19) completed an independent study project entitled “Does an ABCS neuroscience outreach program improve high school achievement?”  Peter is now a student at University of Virginia Law School.