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Undergraduate Alumni Spotlights

Daniel Smedema
B.S. in Cognitive Science and Computer Science, 2015
After graduating in Spring 2015, I will be starting as a full-time software developer at Epic in Madison, Wisconsin. I think two things were really important to getting the job: the first was awareness. I had a good friend from high school who started working at Epic two years ago, which is how I originally heard about the company. Sometimes the people who you least expect can turn out to be important connections! The second critical factor in getting the job was my internship last summer. I had close relationships with a few faculty already, and I developed a few more--these relationships helped me to realize the possibilities and pursue them. The internship itself taught me a lot: both technical skills, and things about myself, like what sort of environment I work best in. It gave me something to talk about in interviews about which I was actually an expert and demonstrated that I had successfully worked in a setting outside the classroom. I highly recommend enriching co-curricular experiences like internships, study abroad, leading student organizations, and so on. They both teach and demonstrate cross-cutting skills that might end up being more important than what you learn in class!

Aparna Srninath
B.S. Cognitive Science, B.S. Mathematics, B.A. Liberal Arts Management Program, 2015
Aparna talks about her experience at IU and with the Cognitive Science Program here.

Sandhya Sridhar
B.S. in Cognitive Science, 2015

Next year I will be training in Dance Therapy with Kolkata Sanved, an organization in India that applies movement-based techniques to heal traumas. After I get my masters in Dance Therapy, I will be teaching math through Teach for America in Memphis, TN. Studying cognitive science allowed me to better understand of how humans learn, process, and keep information. This will help me to develop data stats for tracking progress and evaluation of teaching techniques.

Many COGS students have created research projects or required class projects out of a question that combines their interest in cognitive science with another passion, hobby or interest that they already have. For me, it was dance, so in several classes, I chose to examine kinesthetic empathy, how people learn and remember movement, breathing techniques, etc. For people who liked knitting, they looked at programmable e-textiles. Some others liked playing with dogs, so they looked at canine eye tracking. The great thing about studying cognitive science is that our curiosity about any subject can be examined by a cognitive experiment!

Trisha Thomas
B.A. in Cognitive Science, 2015
I completed my honors thesis, titled "Phonotactics and the Mental Lexicon of Second Language Learners", last semester under Dr. Isabelle Darcy from the department of second language studies, the rest of my committee consisting of Dr. Tom Busey, of psychology, and Dr. Nasuko Tsujimura, of Linguistics. I conducted research on the perception of epenthetic vowels in non-native speakers of English from Korea. I will be presenting the findings at the conference New Sounds 2016 this summer. Currently, I am working as a research assistant in Dr. Larry Humes' Audiology Research Lab, while expanding my thesis research project to include native Arabic speakers and finishing the data analysis of a EEG study that I was conducting in Dr. Busey's lab. In the fall, I will either apply to PhD programs or I will go to England for a one year Master’s program in Human-Computer Interaction at University College London.

Kate Samson
BS Cognitive Science/BA Philosophy, Minors: Music, Ethnomusicology & Folklore, 2015
While I was at IU, I went down all of the paths that allowed me to study people. Majors in Cognitive Science and Philosophy enabled me to read, learn, and observe the complexities of human interaction and thought. After graduation, I moved to Pittsburgh, PA to work for Disney Research at Carnegie Mellon University. My goal is to always be part of a community that allows me to study people, through research, ethnography, or education. I would advise others in the program to channel more energy toward the experience of learning and less energy toward worries about grades. Get involved with research. Build a network one piece at a time. Pay attention in statistics and take as many computer programming courses as you can. Learn R! Talk with your professors - they are interesting people. Learn to ask a lot of questions.

Doori Lee
B.S. in Cognitive Science, 2014
I am graduating with majors in Computer Science, Studio Art and Cognitive Science. I will start working as an application developer for JP Morgan Chase in Chicago in July 2014. In the near future, I hope to pursue a PhD in Computational Linguistics.

Robert Hawkins
B.S. in Cognitive Science, 2014
After graduating, I moved to California and began a PhD in cognitive psychology at Stanford University. Building on research interests I developed under the mentorship of IU Cog Sci faculty, I’m now using experiments and computational models to think about questions in social cognition: what processes and principles underlie our interactions, how do these principles scale up to crowds and larger collectives, and, as an area of application, how do they influence the way we ask and answer questions? It’s a terrific community of researchers to be part of. I also love being close to San Francisco and the larger Bay Area, with its top-notch music, coffee, and rock climbing.

Lindsey Kitchell
B.A. in Cognitive Science, 2014
After graduating with a BA in Cognitive Science and Anthropology, I moved to London, England, where I am completing an MSc in Palaeoanthropology and Palaeolithic Archaeology at University College London. I have applied to several PhD programs in evolutionary anthropology and plan to start fall 2015. I plan to continue combining anthropology and cognitive science by focusing my research on hominin brain evolution, specifically on brain asymmetry and the relationship between the brain and the inner skull.

Seth Frey
Ph.D. in in Cognitive Science and Informatics, 2013
I am a postdoctoral researcher for Disney Research in Zürich, Switzerland, a land of good cheese and good chocolate. I graduated from IU with a Ph.D. in Cognitive Science and Informatics. My job is to look through the business units of the Walt Disney Company for good questions about human social behavior. A founding father of cognitive science once said that "nothing advances science like a good applied problem," and a corporate research lab is full of good applied problems. With the totally unique interdisciplinary training that I got from the IU Cognitive Science and Informatics programs, I know how to work outside my specialty; I know how to talk shop with people in all kinds of positions, and I know how to identify good science and good opportunities in all kinds of datasets. Thanks to the strength of an interdisciplinary training at IU, my first post-graduate business trip was a trip to Walt Disney World.

Gabriella Gabbard
BS in Cognitive Science, 2013
Gabriella began a position at Epic Systems in June 2013. She is enjoying her work as a Test Plan Runner, where she helps maintain the quality of Epic's software systems.

Kate Sanders
B.S. Cognitive Science, 2012
I will be attending the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to pursue a PhD in Psychology, after graduating in May 2012. I plan to work with Duane Watson on sentence processing and comprehension as well as explore my interest in what reading fiction can tell us about the mind.

Thomas Parmer
B.S. Cognitive Science, 2012
After graduation in May 2012, I moved to Madison, Wisconsin to begin working with Epic, a health software company. I plan on working for a couple of years to gain experience and save up money before pursuing my academic goals further in graduate school.

Ronak Shah
B.S. Cognitive Science, 2012
Ronak will be an elementary school teacher at Tindley Preparatory Academy in Indianapolis, as part of Indianapolis' Teach For America corps. He hopes to continue a career in elementary education for at least a few decades.

Kathleen Carney
B.A. Cognitive Science, 2012
After graduating with a B.A. in Cognitive Science (concentration logic) I will begin working for Hitachi Consulting in Chicago, IL. I will start off as a member of their core consulting team in July 2012. Being a core consultant means that for the first few months/year(s) that I am working there, I will be assigned to projects based on what interests me the most before deciding what I want my specialty to be. Most of the work I will be doing will be IT related, but there are many other opportunities as well. I am very excited to start working full-time and am thankful that I have such a interesting and useful degree with CogSci.

Emily Weisbard
B.S. Cognitive Science, 2012
Next year I'll be working towards my Masters of Science in Information Systems here at Indiana University in the Kelly School of Business. After that I hope to get a job in Chicago.

Anna Handy
B.A. Cognitive Science, 2012
I graduated in May 2012 with a double major in Cognitive Science and English. For the next two years, I will be a part of the Teach For America corps in Nashville, Tennessee. I will be teaching fourth grade, with a math focus, at a museum magnet elementary school in the city. During my time with Teach For America, I will also be pursuing a Master's degree in Education from Lipscomb University, also in Nashville.

Kyle Carter
B.A. Cognitive Science, 2012
My wife and I just moved to the pacific northwest. I am currently pursuing an internship with Galois in Portland, OR. It would entail a mix of embedded software development and domain-specific language development. My hope is that it will turn into full-time employment with that company. Also, I'll be pursuing a PhD in Computer Science in the near future, preferably at Portland State University. They have a strong Programming Languages group there that I would like to be a part of.

Tarun Gangwani
B.S. Cognitive Science, 2011
The cognitive science program at IU lets one discover their academic and professional passions. I got involved with projects that allowed me to gain self-discipline and accountability for my work -- both of which are invaluable to any career path that one would choose. The flexibility of the program made it easy to pick a path that was right for me -- while there is some baseline structure, there are many opportunities to explore the field by joining projects, taking classes in other fields, and working with faculty and peers. While I can say that I hold an undergraduate degree, the experiences I got involved with during my time with the program are what really shaped me as a person. My website: http://www.tarun.info/.

Alex Nay
B.S. Cognitive Science, 2011
I currently work in Dr. Ken Mackie's lab on IU's campus in the Multi-disciplinary Science Building II (MSB II) assisting with research using mice models. The research focuses on the little understood cannabinoid system and its various pathways, receptors and molecular makeup. In the Spring or Fall of 2013, I plan to begin the Master's program in Human-Computer Interaction/Design (HCI/d) here at IU and can't wait to get started!

Jaimie Murdock
B.S. Computer Science & B.S. Cognitive Science, 2010
Since graduating in December 2010, I've accepted a full-time position as a Visiting Research Associate with the Cognitive Science Program, continuing work with Colin Allen on the Indiana Philosophy Ontology (InPhO) Project. I'm very excited about the upcoming year working on new methods for knowledge representation and machine learning. I'll also be working on a new bibliography management system for the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP), based on a tool developed at the Cognitive Science Program.

Nicole Beckage
B.S. Cognitive Science, 2010
Nicole is in the Ph.D. program in Cognitive Science at UC-Irvine working with Mark Steyvers. Her senior year research published in PLoS One is already attracting a lot of attention.

Kelly Gordon
B.A. Cognitive Science, 2010
Kelly graduated in 2010 and spent the last year in an accelerated 1 year MA degree for Art History in London. She recently submitted her MA dissertation on artists resale rights and has also started her first year of law school at The John Marshall University in Chicago where she is pursuing Intellectual Property Law (specifically Art Law).

Brian Slattery
B.A. Cognitive Science, 2010
After I graduated in 2010, I started working on a Ph.D. in learning sciences at the University of Illinois at Chicago, working with Tom Moher and Leilah Lyons. My research has mainly involved technological supports for learning, especially as they are used in informal learning institutions such as hand's-on science museums, zoos, aquariums, etc. My current main project is helping design and evaluate an embodied learning environment to teach people about the effects of climate change on polar regions, being designed for the Brookfield Zoo (and other zoos nationwide) as part of the NSF-funded Climate Literacy Zoo Education Network (CLiZEN).

Winter Mason
Ph.D. Social Psychology, Cognitive Science, 2007
When people ask me how a psychologist got a job in tech, I have two answers: how I did it, and how I think someone else could do it. One of the main research projects I worked on in grad school was with Rob Goldstone, doing experimental work with social networks. This topic was perfect for me because social networks fall conveniently at the intersection of social psychology and cognitive science (in which I eventually got my Ph.D.), and in addition to the cognitive science paper with Goldstone I also co-authored a paper on social networks with Eliot Smith that was published in a social psychology journal. This research led to a collaboration with someone who then introduced me to Duncan Watts (a prominent social networks researcher) right as he was leaving Columbia University to create a group at Yahoo. Once there, I was embedded with computer scientists, economists, physicists and mathematicians, and learned the skills that set me up for my current position as a Data Scientist at Facebook. If there is a lesson to be learned from my career path, it is that collaborations can lead to opportunities down the road, so make connections wherever you can. Rather on relying on fortunate connections, however, my advice to psychologists interested in the tech industry is to start acquiring the skills I learned at Yahoo right away. Learn how to code—I recommend Python because it is versatile and easy to learn—and learn advanced statistics. Having a decent understanding of machine learning techniques has come in very handy in my career, and those skills and knowledge in combination with the expertise that comes with a psychology or cognitive science degree would make one a strong candidate in industry.

Ravi Bhatt, Jim Brink, Stephen Hockema, Jun Luo
Cognitive Science
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