Dr. Lisa Oakes, Principal Investigator
Dr. Oakes received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1991 and was a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at the University of Iowa from 1991 to 2006. She joined the University of California Davis community in 2006 and is a Professor of Psychology.
Katie Pomaranski, Graduate Student
Katie graduated from the University of Michigan-Dearborn in 2015 with a B.A. in Psychology. She received the Chancellor's Medallion, an award bestowed on the top two students of the University's College of Arts, Sciences, and Letters for demonstrating excellence in scholarship, leadership, and service.
She developed her passion for research through her involvement in multiple psychology and biology labs on campus. Namely, she worked as a research assistant and lab manager in Dr. Clark-Foos' Human Learning & Creativity lab where she studied the automaticity of emotional memories. In addition, she studied embodied cognition in Dr. Sethuraman's Cognitive Development lab. Finally, she worked as a research assistant in Dr. Morris' Neuroscience lab where she investigated the neurobiological mechanisms for the association between heart disease and depression. Together, these experiences allowed Katie to fully explore research from its beginning stages of developing a research question all the way to analyzing the results. In the end, she was inspired to continue being part of the intellectual discussion and pursued graduate school.
She joined Dr. Lisa Oakes' Infant Cognition lab in September 2015. There she hopes to explore the development of visual search in infancy.
Aaron Beckner, Graduate Student
Aaron earned his B.A. in Psychology from California State University Sacramento, graduating Summa cum Laude in 2015. During his time there, he became involved in research investigating the neurobiology of emotional learning and memory as a member of Dr. Sharon Furtak’s laboratory, where he employed Pavlovian fear conditioning in rodents to study the neural mechanisms that underlie both how we learn to fear and how we learn that something we previously feared no longer signals a threat. More specifically, Aaron was involved in research investigating how features of a visual stimulus, such as its temporal continuity, affect the way in which it is processed in the medial temporal lobe memory system when that stimulus also predicts an aversive experience. It was at this time that Aaron became very interested in the ways in which environmental context can influence brain function. In particular, he began to discover a passion for research investigating the role that early experience plays in brain development. As a first year graduate student, he was involved in research investigating the process by which early sensory experience alters brain development through epigenetic mechanisms. Currently, he studies the development of visual short-term memory and attention in infants. Aaron joined the infant Cognition Lab in June of 2016.
Michaela DeBolt, Graduate Student
I am a second year graduate student studying cognitive development in Dr. Lisa Oakes’s Infant Cognition Lab at UC Davis and the Center for Mind and Brain. I graduated from the University of Minnesota with a BS in Psychology in 2014.
My substantive interests are largely centered on the development of visual attention and longitudinal methods. Specifically, I’m interested in how different contexts and experiences influence cognitive development and how researchers can best tease apart and measure factors that shape and mold infants’ developing minds over time.
Nicole Coates, Junior Specialist & Lab Manager
Nicole graduated from the University of California, Davis in December 2017 with a Bachelor’s of Science in Cognitive Science. While at UC Davis, she was a Research Assistant in the Human Memory Lab with Dr. Andy Yonelinas. There she studied the effects of acute stress on episodic memory in college students. She joined Dr. Lisa Oakes' Infant Cognition lab in November 2018, where she hopes to learn more about how babies interact with and think about the world around them. Ultimately, she wants to go to graduate school with the tools needed to study metacognition across all ages. Outside of lab, Nicole likes to go to coffee shops and read.
Shannon Klotz, Junior Specialist & Lab Manager
Shannon earned her B.A. in Cognitive Neuroscience from Scripps College in May 2019 and joined the Infant Cognition Lab in June. While in Southern California, she was a member of Michael Spezio's Laboratory for Inquiry into Valuation and Emotion (LIVE Lab) and studied Theory of Mind using EEG. There, Shannon explicitly modeled mental representations during both the development and presence of stable cooperation via communication outcomes. This allowed for better understanding of the sophistication, or degree of mental coordination, involved in individuals' social perception and reasoning. She intends to pursue a graduate degree combining her passions for social cognition and technologies that study the human mind, brain, and behavior.