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  Spring 2023 CNRI Leadership Team

Rachael Wright | CNRI Program Leader

Rachael (she/her) is a PhD candidate in the Psychology and Neuroscience department and is co-mentored by Dr. Alison Adcock and Dr. Kevin LaBar. She is primarily interested in how people manage their emotional states, how these skills can be learned over time, and how that process works in the brain. She is dedicated to helping increase equity in research and has been involved in CNRI since its inception, joining the leadership team in its second semester. Outside of the lab, she enjoys hiking, spending time with friends, and cooking.


Abby Hsiung | CNRI Co-Founder, Visibility & Recruitment Co-Leader

Abby (she/her) is a PhD candidate in the Psychology and Neuroscience Department. She is co-mentored by Drs. Alison Adcock (Motivated Memory Lab) and Scott Huettel (Neuroeconomics Lab). Abby studies questions around why people seek information and how different motivational states (e.g. curiosity) can shape what information is gathered and what is later remembered. Abby helped start CNRI with fellow co-Founder, Alex Breslav, in the Spring of 2020. She is committed to expanding access to research and providing students with a strong foundation in research-based skills to help them flourish wherever their interests take them. Outside of research and CNRI, Abby enjoys baking bread, rock climbing, and collecting house plants.


Jenna Merenstein | Visibility & Recruitment Co-Leader

Jenna (she/her) is a postdoctoral researcher working in the Brain Imaging and Analysis Center with Dr. Dave Madden. She uses MRI to study the effect of brain aging on different cognitive abilities (learning, memory, attention), especially in advanced age groups (individuals beyond age 80). Jenna believes that mentoring has been fundamental to her career from the undergraduate through postdoctoral stages and hopes to facilitate similar successful mentor-mentee relationships through her participation in CNRI. Beyond research, Jenna loves hanging out with her two dogs and two cats or being outside near the mountains or ocean.


Allie Sinclair | Graduate Student Mentor Representative

Allie (she/her) is a fifth-year PhD candidate in the Adcock (Motivated Memory) and Samanez-Larkin (Motivated Cognition and Aging Brain) labs. Allie studies how people learn from error; her research explores the cognitive and neural factors that allow us to update our memories and beliefs. This line of research has applications for correcting misinformation, improving education, encouraging behavior change, and understanding false memories. Allie has been involved with CNRI since it was created, serving as a coordinator, mentor, and lecturer. As the Graduate Student Lead, Allie recruits new mentors, leads mentoring workshops, and organizes research project teams. Outside of the lab, Allie enjoys video games, rock climbing, and painting.


Kevin O’Neill | Graduate Student Mentor Representative

Kevin (he/him) is a fifth-year PhD candidate in Psychology & Neuroscience working with Felipe De Brigard and John Pearson. His research uses computational modeling to understand how people identify the causes of events in the world (see his website for more information). As the Graduate Student Lead, Kevin helps organize graduate student mentors into project teams to support undergraduate research, and he has also participated in CNRI as a mentor and lecturer. Outside of the lab, Kevin likes to ride his bike, play the bass, and hang out with his cats.


Audrey Liu | Undergraduate Intern Representative

Audrey (she/her) is a fifth-year PhD candidate working with Tobias Egner and Marty Woldorff. She is interested in the behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying cognitive flexibility and how people become better at switching between tasks when adapting to environmental demands. Audrey is an undergraduate student lead at CNRI, and she values the opportunity to provide structured mentorship to students who are interested in research. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with her cat Happy, watching horror movies, and trying new recipes.


Morgan Ferrans | Undergraduate Intern Representative

Morgan is a third-year PhD student in the McHenry (Social Neuroscience) and Hare (Canine Cognition/Comparative Psychology) labs. Morgan’s work is focused on understanding dog physiology, temperament, and social behavior across the lifespan. To this end, she is establishing social and motivated behavior assays in dogs, translated from mouse models, in order to make comparisons within and across species. As Undergraduate Student Lead, Morgan organizes and fosters the development of research project teams. Beyond her work, Morgan enjoys baking, gardening, and time exploring the Durham food scene (ask her for food recommendations).


Laura Yost | Financial Lead

Laura (she/her) is a research associate/lab manager for the Adcock lab. Her research interests are centered around how particular areas of the brain are responsible for certain cognitive functions. As an undergraduate representative and financial lead, she values increasing equity in science and the opportunity to cultivate an enthusiasm for research in students. Outside the lab, she enjoys hiking, baking, and reading.



Miles Martinez | Python Programming Co-Leader

Miles (he/him) is a third-year Electrical & Computer Engineering PhD student working in the Pearson Lab. His research interests are centered around building computational models to describe the brain and behavior. He participates in CNRI as both an instructor of the Python course and as a mentor, and he enjoys the opportunity to introduce student to computational research in a more welcoming way than he experienced. Beyond research, he really likes either hiking outside or bouldering inside!


Raphael Geddert | Python Programming Co-Leader

Raphael (he/him) is a 4th-year PhD Candidate working with Tobias Egner and John Pearson. His research focuses on the neural and computational mechanisms underlying cognitive control; specifically, how people learn to adjust attentional strategies during task switching and distractor avoidance depending on environmental conditions. He is one of the lead instructors of CNRI’s Python Programming course, and frequently works with interns as a research mentor. He loves working so closely with the brilliant undergraduates here and helping them jump-start their research careers. Ask him about rock climbing or cycling sometime!

CNRI Leadership Team Alumni

  • Alex Breslav, CNRI Co-Founder, 2020 – 2022

Spring 2021 Intern Cohort & Graduate Mentors