Dr. John Coley

John is interested in the basic cognitive processes underlying how people organize what they know about the world, and how they use what they know to make guesses about what they don’t know. He’s also interested in how those processes develop and change over time, and how differences in culture and experience influence them. Finally, he’s getting more and more interested in the practical, concrete consequences of conceptual organization and reasoning in areas like education, social conflict, and emotional regulation. John likes to think of his lab as an environment in which smart, motivated, people have the opportunity to work together while learning about research, exploring these issues in lots of different ways, making genuine contributions to cognitive science, and having fun along the way.

Nicole graduated from Northeastern University with a B.S. in Psychology and a minor in Sociology in 2011. After graduation, she worked as the Lab Coordinator for Lisa Feldman Barrett’s Interdisciplinary Affective Science Laboratory where she studied emotion perception and neural processing of negative and threatening stimuli. Nicole is currently a third year graduate student of John Coley and is co-advised by Lisa Feldman Barrett. She is broadly interested in applying our knowledge about intuitive patterns of thinking to help understand and combat real-world problems such as global warming and islamophobia. In her spare time, Nicole enjoys hiking, canoeing, and swimming.





Ann Xu

Ann is a Ph.D student working in the lab, with a broad interest in interdisciplinary studies. Before coming to Northeastern, she concentrated in French literature, Corporate Law and Education. Currently, Ann is interested in studying how people essentialize categories in various domains (biology, social, moral, legal etc.), taking both cross-cultural and developmental perspectives. Essentially, Ann loves listening to classic piano while having fried chicken.






Jessica Leffers

Jessica is currently a first year Ph.D student in the CORE Lab. She graduated from Goucher College in May 2016 with a B.A. in Psychology with minors in Cognitive Studies and Education. She is broadly interested in how humans reason about the world around them. She would like to study how people intuitively think about social categories, specifically, racial categories. Jessica wonders to what extent our environment and context influence how we think about people and their categories. A fun fact about her is that she has been to over 15 countries and she would love to do a cross-cultural study on social categorization in any of them!







 Michal Fux, Ph.D.

Michal is a cognitive scientist who is interested in the calibration processes of the human mind, their effects on intuitive tendencies and their role in the acquisition of explicit knowledge. Basically, how our early experiences shape our judgements and effect our reaction to new information. Michal has been using the occurrence of precautionary thoughts and behaviors as a case study, and is trying to understand their implications for public policies, such as security, environment, and education. More recently, through her passion for education and cognition, she joined the CORE lab to take part in such projects as VIBES, which focuses on the relationship between intuitive understanding of biological concepts and formal biology education. Michal has done extensive fieldwork in South Africa studying Zulu rituals and the role of precautionary cognition in their transmission and persistence. She has a B.Sc. in Biology, an M.Sc. in Zoology and a Ph.D. in Cognition and Culture. Michal is also a certified yoga teacher and loves exploring the world discovering wonderful people and delicious food everywhere.


Wen Fangfang, Ph.D.

Fangfang is a lecturer at the School of Psychology at Central China Normal University in Wuhan, where she also supervises master’s students and is a key member of the Research Center for Social Psychology. She has published more than 20 papers in prestigious journals in China and abroad, and has chaired 6 projects, including youth projects of the National Natural Science Fund, planning projects for the Ministry of Education in Humanities, and Philosophy and Social Science planning projects in Hubei Province. Her current research interests include social categories, stereotypes, essentialist beliefs, and cultural identity. The CORE Lab is honored to host Dr. Wen as a visiting scholar; we are collaborating on projects involving culture, essentialist thinking, stereotypes, and conceptual development. In her free time, she likes to practice yoga.


Emma Pitt

Emma is a senior studying Psychology with minors in History and International Affairs. While fascinated by all things psychology, she is primarily interested in cognitive science and is aiming to eventually get her Ph.D in Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience. Emma loves to travel, and has spent time in four different continents. She hopes to one day set foot in all seven. When she’s not in the lab, Emma can most likely be found either skiing or thinking about skiing.









Angie Chan

Angie is a freshman currently majoring in Computer Science and Cognitive Psychology. This is her first semester doing research with the CORE lab and she is thrilled to be working alongside the other RAs and to get hands-on experience in research. She is interested in why people and things are the way they are, encompassing evolution, history, and of course, psychology. In the CORE lab, she is interested in how the way people think about the world gets translated into their actions. When she is not in the lab or doing schoolwork, she’s most likely watching Netflix and/or hanging out with friends.


Ella Douglas

Ella is a second-year Northeastern undergraduate from Australia studying Behavioral Neuroscience with a minor in Computer Science. She is interested in developing computational models of the brain in order to thoroughly understand the structural and cognitive causes behind maladaptive behaviors. Her favorite emotion regulation technique is to distract herself with books and new experiences.




Mackenzie Dowd

Mackenzie Dowd is a fourth-year honors student pursuing a combined major in criminal justice and psychology. Throughout her time in the CORE lab, Mackenzie has primarily been involved in investigating how people think about criminals and crime categories. Outside of the lab, she is a member of the Northeastern Women’s Soccer team and an avid traveler. Following her graduation in May, Mackenzie will be starting as a Consultant at Deloitte.




Tess Forton

Tess is a fifth year Psychology major and Criminal Justice minor. She is interested in the integration of technology and mental health care, and is curious about how people conceptualize the components of effective mental health care. After graduating, she plans to continue working for a mobile health startup called nOCD, which provides on-the-go treatment for people with OCD. To keep her cognitive functioning sharp, she likes to listen to music and read novels.




Tory Govan

Tory is psychology major who intends to graduate in 2019. This is her first semester as a research assistant in the CORE Lab. She is interested in developmental psychology, particularly cognitive development. In her free time, she enjoys reading mystery and thriller novels, ballroom dancing, and binge watching television shows.






Katherine Hut

Katherine is a Behavioral Neuroscience major with a minor in Business Administration, who will be graduating in 2020. She is especially interested in the way people comprehend the world around them, and loves connecting psychological principles to specific areas of the brain. Katherine feels calmest after a long rock climb, or a few hours with a good book.

Wanjiru Kimani

Wanjiru is a fifth-year student at Northeastern University studying Psychology. This is her first semester as a research assistant in the CORE lab, and she is particularly interested in exploring how people, specifically children, understand and interpret their world. Upon graduation, Wanjiru hopes to gain her BCaBA Certificate and EI Certificate before returning back to school for her license in mental health. Her favorite emotion regulation strategies are singing, exploring and drinking copious amounts of tea! She is thrilled to be a part of this creative and engaging team.

Norik Kirakosian

Norik is a third year Psychology major with minors in Behavioral Neuroscience, and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. Norik is aiming to pursue graduate studies in clinical psychology or social work. In terms of CORE lab work they’re interested in how individuals reason about and classify social categories, especially gender, and being multilingual/cultural, they are particularly interested in cross-cultural differences around essentialist beliefs people have about social categories (e.g. how people think about gender based on the language they speak). Norik’s favorite emotion is interest.



Victoria Mail

Victoria is a first-year psychology major at Northeastern and is very excited to have her first research experience in the CORE lab. She is interested in abnormal psychology and how research can be applied in a clinical setting. Outside of the lab, you may find her at playing intramural soccer or sitting in a coffee shop around Boston.

IMG_7638Carissa Lellos

Carissa is a senior at Northeastern studying psychology and pursuing a career in elementary education. She is interested in human behavior and development and loves to study the way the mind works. After graduation, she hopes to become a classroom teacher. Carissa is originally from northern New Jersey and absolutely loves her new home in the city of Boston. She loves all things outdoorsy, music, a good Netflix binge, and the company of family and friends. She looks forward to another great semester in the CORE lab.

Amanda Luken

Amanda is a fourth year senior majoring in Biology and minoring in International Affairs and Mathematics. She is interested in how our perceptions of the world affect our understanding of biology and the implications for public health. After a gap year, Amanda intends on pursuing a PhD in epidemiology. Outside of her studies and work in the lab, Amanda leads the Society of Asian Scientists and Engineers (SASE) as the Vice President, serves as a mentor in Asian American Students in Action (AASIA), plays intramural volleyball, and practices yoga.

Claire Margiatto

Claire is a first-year student who is majoring in Psychology and is graduating in 2020/2021. She is interested in studying language acquisition and cognitive development, specifically with regards to younger children. She is excited to be working in the CORE lab this semester, and hopes to help further the research being done as well as develop new ideas for the future. Her own psychological development has been heavily influenced by her passions, such as playing softball, acting in the theater, and playing/listening to music.

 Tess Murphy

Tess is a fourth-year Northeastern student with a biology major and psychology minor. She is excited for her first semester working as a research assistant in the CORE lab. As a biology student for most of her academic career, she is especially interested to learn more about the effects of intuitive biological thinking on students learning biology in the classroom. She looks forward to a fun and productive semester!


Lex Soares

Lex is a third-year Behavioral Neuroscience major.  She is interested in studying cognitive processes, like perception and association, and how these processes are disrupted by mental illnesses.  Besides research, her passions include baking, travel, and bagels.

Madison Uva

Madison is a 5th year senior studying Psychology and minoring in Human Services and Social Entrepreneurship. Her love for travel led her to work in India for her second co-op and study abroad in South Africa. She’s passionate about human rights, especially those of marginalized populations and plans to incorporate this in her work within the field of Industrial and Organizational Psychology after pursuing further education.


Dana Walker

Dana is currently pursuing a major in Behavioral Neuroscience and a certificate in Music Performance with the class of 2019.  She’s interested in combining cognition, behavior, neuroscience and music in her career.  When Dana isn’t in the lab, she’s often anthropomorphizing her two betta fish or expressing her emotions through her clarinet.

Hannah Wilkins

Hannah is studying Behavioral Neuroscience and plans to graduate in Fall 2018. Hannah is particularly interested in the broad ideas of cognition, affect, and development. She’s been skydiving over the Finger Lakes in Western NY, paragliding in the Swiss Alps, and bungee jumping in South Africa. She loves traveling and has seen many parts of Europe and Africa.  She just came back from a dialogue in Uganda where she did a study on memory and volunteered in a facility for children with disabilities. Her favorite emotion regulation strategy is going to a cardio class or Zumba at the gym.


Eliana Zhou

Eliana is a third year International Affairs major with minors in Biology and Political Science. Eliana enjoys learning about multiculturalism and cognition. With regards to CORE lab work, Eliana is interested in how cross-cultural comparisons can be useful in analyzing essentialist thinking about different social groups. She is from Singapore and loves travelling, marathon training, and reading.