Lab Members

Lab Director:

Kara D. Federmeier, Ph.D.
kfederme AT

Co-leader for the
Intelligent Systems major research theme
and Illinois Language and Literacy Initiative,
Department of Psychology,
Program in Neuroscience,
and Beckman Institute for
Advanced Science and Technology

Psychology Webpage
Beckman Webpage

Kara’s CV

Interview with the Society for Psychophysiological Research
Interview with the Cognitive Science Department, UCSD

Kara Federmeier

Post Docs:

Daniel Kleinman
dgk AT

Dan Kleinman is a Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellow. His research investigates how speakers retrieve words from the lexicon during language production, and the extent to which the cognitive mechanisms involved in word retrieval are shared with other levels of linguistic representation and other domains. He is also interested in how bilinguals decide which language to speak, and how linguistic expectations mediate between language comprehension and word production. Dan received a B.A. in Linguistics & Cognitive Science from Pomona College and a Ph.D. in Psychology & Cognitive Science from the University of California, San Diego in 2013.

Heather Lucas
hdlucas AT

Heather Lucas is a Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellow. Her research interests are in the neural systems that give rise to different expressions of memory, the changes that these systems undergo with age, and the ability to differentiate between normal and very mild pathological forms of cognitive aging. She is also interested in the effects of aging on language processing and in ways that age-related changes to language may impact memory. Heather received a PhD in Psychology from Northwestern University in 2012. She also holds a B.A. from Duke University (2005) with majors in Psychology and English and a minor in Computer Science.

Heather Lucas
Shuk Han Ng
shukhan AT

Shuk Han obtained her PhD in linguistics from the Graduate Center, City University of New York. Her research interests center around language processing by normal adults, including the interface of syntax and semantics in sentence comprehension and the timing of retrieving lexical information. She has worked on various projects on Chinese sentence processing, Spanish-English bilingual lexical access and reading. Currently, she focuses on the adult literacy project, investigating language comprehension by adult English speakers with different literacy skills.

Shuk Han Ng
Brennan Payne
payne12 AT
Brennan Payne Website

Brennan is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Cognition and Brain Laboratory. Brennan completed his BA in Psychology and Cognitive Science at the State University of New York at Oswego in 2009, his MS in Cognitive Science of Teaching and Learning in 2011, and his PhD in Cognitive Science of Teaching and Learning in 2014 at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Currently, his research interests center on (1) uncovering basic mechanisms underlying age-related changes in language comprehension using high temporal resolution measures of language processing, such as ERPs and eye tracking, and (2) developing paradigms and techniques to co-register EEG/ERP data with eye-movement and behavioral data. Current topics include: age differences in parafoveal word processing in eye tracking and ERP paradigms, electrophysiological indices of intraindividual variability in sentence processing, and item-level statistical modeling of event-related EEG.

Brennan Payne
Si On Yoon
syoon10 AT

Si On is a Beckman Institute Postdoctoral Fellow. Her research interests include how people use social-pragmatic information in conversation, such as how speakers use audience design depending on partner’s knowledge state and how previously established common ground influences on the current production and comprehension while communicating. She is also interested in how this ability to incorporate social-pragmatic cues during language processing is developed and used in various populations (e.g., children, old adults and amnesic patients) and the role of memory representation that support this language use. Si On received a B.A. in Linguistics and Psychology from Seoul National University in 2008 and a Ph.D. in Psychology from University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign in 2016.

Si On Yoon

Graduate Students:

Ryan Hubbard
rjhubba2 AT

Ryan Hubbard is a 3rd year graduate student in the Cognitive Neuroscience division of Psychology. He received a B.S. in Psychology (minor in Neuroscience) from the University of California, Davis. Ryan is interested in the relationship between aspects of language (e.g. semantics, contextual information) and memory, and how this overlap manifests in the brain. He is also interested in applying machine learning and multivariate analysis techniques (e.g. classification) to neuroimaging data. Ryan has received support from the Neuroengineering IGERT Program at UIUC.

Ryan Hubbard
Manoj Kumar
mkumar9 AT

Manoj’s research interests focus on the interaction between semantics and visual perception and how they inform each other. He is a graduate student in the Neuroscience Program and is also advised by Dr. Diane Beck. His research uses Event Related Potentials, functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging along with multi-voxel pattern analysis, and analysis techniques borrowed from computer vision. Prior to graduate school, he was working in the Information Technology industry and has had extensive experience in executive leadership as well as software developer positions. He has a M.S. in Engineering and Applied Science from Yale University and a B.Tech in Mechanical Engineering from the Institute of Technology, Banaras Hindu University (now IIT-BHU).

Manoj Kumar
Melinh Lai
melinhl2 AT

Melinh Lai is a first year graduate student studying cognitive psychology at the University of Illinois. She received her BA in linguistics, biology, and cognitive science from Rutgers University and worked as a lab manager of the language processing and development lab at Johns Hopkins University. Melinh is interested in using eyetracking and EEG/ERP techniques to study the time course and mechanisms of predictions in language processing, as well as how these mechanisms change with age.

Melinh Lai
Michelle Leckey
leckey2 AT

Michelle Leckey is a fifth year in the Cognitive Neuroscience division within the Psychology Department. She received a BSc in Biological Sciences from Lancaster University and a BSc in Psychology from The Queens University Belfast. Michelle uses ERP’s to investigate the ways in which language processing changes over the lifespan, and is also interested in the biological factors that underlie individual differences in comprehension.

Michelle Leckey
Allison Letkiewicz
letkiew2 AT

Allison completed her undergraduate work at The Catholic University of America in Psychology. As an undergraduate she worked in a Cognitive Aging Lab investigating implicit memory in healthy older adults and young adults, as well as a Psychophysiology Lab using EEG/ERP to investigate executive function. Afterward, she was a Post-baccalaureate IRTA at the NIMH for two years studying the neural mechanisms of fear and anxiety in healthy controls and patients using EMG and fMRI with Dr. Shmuel Lissek and Dr. Christian Grillon. She began her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in the fall of 2011. Her current research interests include exploring the neural mechanisms of anxiety, depression, and their co-occurrence, as well as the interaction between emotion and cognition. In the future she hopes to integrate both basic and applied clinical science research.

Allison Letkiewicz
Cybelle Smith
cmsmit13 AT

Cybelle Smith is a third year student in the cognitive neuroscience division of the psychology department. She uses EEG/ERP and other techniques to investigate how verbal and non-verbal contextual information shapes online language comprehension and memory. How are listeners able to make inferences about the intended meaning of a statement on the basis of real world knowledge? And how does contextual information shape memory for novel concepts? She received a B.A. in linguistics from Stanford University, and has worked as a lab manager at the cognitive neuroscience of language laboratory at University of Maryland. She previously participated in the neuroengineering IGERT program at UIUC and is currently an NSF-GRFP fellow.

Cybelle Smith

Lab Manager:

Melissa Coffel
IllinoisCABLabManager AT

Melissa is currently pursuing her degree in Psychology with a formal concentration in Behavioral Neuroscience. She really enjoys working with people and has conducted research with both children and adults. Research that Melissa has conducted includes: (1) electroencephalogram (EEG) studies to help us understand language comprehension and changes in processing throughout normative aging with event-related potentials (ERPs), (2) eye-tracking studies to reveal differences between native and non-native speakers of English during reading, (3) neuropsychological studies to determine cognitive control in older adults, and (4) EEG/ERP and eye-tracking co-registration studies aimed to uncover parafoveal word processing and the relationship between eye movement, behavior, and brain wave data. Her research interests include: cognitive and behavioral neuroscience, psycholinguistics across the lifespan, memory, learning, and decision-making.