Assistant Professor of Psychology
Education: Ph.D., University of Virginia, 2007
B.A., Harvard University, 1998
Areas of Interest:
My primary area of research focuses on our perception of the natural world, and
how the state of our body can influence this perception. To this end, I study the
perception of distance (how far away is that object?) and geographical slant (how
steep is that hill?) and how they are changed by changes in the body and our emotions.
One sample finding is that hills appear steeper when we are sad. Why is this? When
we look at a hill, we see not just the abstract geometry of its angle, but also
how our body can interact with that hill. A sad mood informs our capacity and desire
for interacting with the environment, and therefore affects our perception.
My second area of research interest is applying research in cognitive science to
education. I hope to use my training and expertise in cognitive psychology to help
separate fact from fiction and choosing the best science to apply to educational
Finally, I am interested in people's intuitive undertanding of physics concepts.
A number of tasks which test people’s intuitive understanding of physics have met
with surprising results: A large percentage of adults display a systematic misunderstanding
about the simple principles which govern physical events.
My teaching has included General Psychology, Cognitive Psychology, Sensation and
Perception, Cognitive Science, as well as History of Psychology. I have also designed
and taught a course entitled “The Science of Illusions” which uses "illusions" as
a lens to view the science of psychology.
For more details, and representative publications, please see my website above.