Community

At the center


Anjan Chatterjee

Anjan Chatterjee

Director

Anjan Chatterjee is a Professor of Neurology, Psychology, and Architecture and the founding Director of the Penn Center for Neuroaesthetics. He wrote The Aesthetic Brain: How We Evolved to Desire Beauty and Enjoy Art and co-edited Neuroethics in Practice: Mind, Medicine, and Society and The Roots of Cognitive Neuroscience: Behavioral Neurology and Neuropsychology. He has received the Norman Geschwind Prize in Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology and the Rudolph Arnheim Prize for contribution to Psychology and the Arts. He is a founding member of the Board of Governors of the Neuroethics Society, the past President of the International Association of Empirical Aesthetics, and the past President of the Behavioral and Cognitive Neurology Society. He currently serves on the Boards of The College of Physicians of Philadelphia and has served on the boards of Haverford College, the Norris Square Neighborhood Project and the Associated Services for the Blind and Visually Impaired.

Eileen Cardillo

Eileen Cardillo

Associate Director

Eileen Cardillo, DPhil is a cognitive neuroscientist and Associate Director of the Penn Center for Neuroaesthetics. She received her B.S. in Biological Psychology at the College of William and Mary and her doctorate in Experimental Psychology while a Rhodes Scholar at the University of Oxford. After completing her postdoctoral training at UC-San Diego and the University of Pennsylvania, Eileen served as the Patient Coordinator of the Focal Lesion Database at Penn’s Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. Her research investigates the cognitive and neural mechanisms supporting language comprehension, with a particular focus on metaphor and neuropsychological studies of patient populations. Other areas of interest include verbal creativity, aesthetic preference, and the cognitive and neural changes associated with contemplative practice.

Joe Ptacek

Joe Ptacek

Center Manager

As an undergraduate student at Macalester College, I studied neuroscience and linguistics. Here at Penn, I oversee administrative functions at the PCfN and ChatLab, including grant applications, communications, and web development. Beyond my interests in language and cognition, I enjoy biking, cooking, taking photos, and playing synthesizers.

Emily Urban

Emily Urban

Lab Manager

I received a BA from the University of Pennsylvania, where I studied Fine Arts and Visual Studies with a concentration in the “Science and Philosophy of Seeing.” I am interested in how visual perception can affect our comprehension of the world and of art. Besides acting as Lab Manager for ChatLab, I’m currently researching how we perceive human bodies. In my free time, I continue to build my artistic practice and freelance.

Lucas Kelly

Lucas Kelly

Artist-in-Residence

Kelly’s work has been exhibited in museums and galleries across the United States and throughout Europe. His work has been the subject of multiple solo and group exhibitions, most notably in the survey of abstract painting “The Painted World” at PS1 MoMA. In 2019 Kelly was named as the inaugural artist in residence at the Penn Center for Neuroaesthetics. A full professor in Visual Arts at Mercer County Community College, Kelly holds a BFA from Maryland Institute College of Art and a MFA from Mason Gross School of the Arts. He is a member of the Tiger Strikes Asteroid network of artists, and his studio is in Philadelphia.

Alex Christensen

Alex Christensen

Postdoctoral Researcher

My research roots can be traced back to personality: How are people different? And what sorts of outcomes extend from these differences? Specifically, I am interested in what makes people more (or less) open to various experiences. My Ph.D. work at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro sought to clarify the types of experiences people are open to, the cognitive and neurological differences of “open” people, and the behavioral consequences of being “open” (e.g., creative, curious, humorous). At Penn, I look forward to exploring how people differ in their cognitive and affective responses to aesthetics, and how these differences affect their subsequent aesthetic experiences.

Franziska Hartung

Franziska Hartung

Postdoctoral Researcher

Franziska received her PhD degree in cognitive neuroscience from the Max-Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics and the Radboud University (Donders Institute for Brain, Cognition, and Behaviour) in the Netherlands. Her research projects centered around the question of how context shapes meaning and experience and its underlying neural mechanisms. She is working on various aspects of story comprehension, event processing, aesthetic and affective responses to literary texts and as of recent human faces which includes exploratory work on person perception and stigma.

Stacey Humphries

Stacey Humphries

Postdoctoral Researcher

I am interested in when and how sensorimotor representations shape language, conceptual processing, reasoning, and aesthetic judgment. To do this work, I use a variety of methods, including functional neuroimaging, studies of neurological patients (Parkinson’s disease patients, and stroke patients with focal lesions), and cognitive and behavioural testing. During my Ph.D. at the University of Manchester, UK, I explored how impaired action representations affect the way patients with Parkinson’s disease gesture about action concepts in conversation. At Penn, I am examining how neurodegenerative patients comprehend literal and metaphorical language, how stroke patients understand analogies, and how patients and young adults view different types of abstract artwork.

Yoed Kenett

Yoed Kenett

Postdoctoral Researcher

I have a Ph.D. (2015) in neuroscience from Bar-Ilan University, Israel. Currently I am a postdoctoral fellow at the Department of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, working at the labs of Dr. Sharon Thompson-Schill and Dr. Anjan Chatterjee. My research computationally and empirically investigates the structure of semantic memory (our memory of knowledge and facts) and how it constrains cognitive processes operating over it, in typical and clinical populations. I then apply neurocognitive empirical methods to study these quantitative findings. Here at Penn, I am gaining experience in neuroimaging research, applying network neuroscience methods to study creativity. In parallel, I am exploring further cognitive domains, such as conceptual combinations and aesthetic perception. A few of my current projects address topics on the conceptual representation of beauty and well-being, aesthetic emotions, dynamics of semantic memory, and the neural dynamics of generating and evaluating creative ideas.

Adam Weinberger

Adam Weinberger

Postdoctoral Researcher

I received my PhD in psychology from Georgetown University in 2020. I am broadly interested in human learning, and how implicit processes shape our more explicit knowledge and beliefs, including belief in God. I also have ongoing research examining creativity. My work involves a variety of behavioral and neural methods, with a particular focus on neural representations and brain network organization. Outside of the lab, I enjoy listening to music, making cocktails, and playing online chess.

Cliff Workman

Cliff Workman

Postdoctoral Researcher

When we judge people for their moral or prosocial behaviors, do our perceptions of their beauty influence our evaluations? I am interested in understanding how morality and beauty interact to modulate decision-making. Prior to joining the ChatLab, I was a postdoctoral scholar in the Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at the University of Chicago under the supervision of Jean Decety. Our work investigates the psycholigical and neural mechansisms underpinning political polarization and support for ideologically-motivated violence. I received my Ph.D. from the University of Manchester in England in 2016 where I investigated relations between moral cognition and emotions and the physiopathology of major depression. Before starting my PhD, I worked at Johns Hopkins University on neuroimaging studies of psychiatric disorders, and also completed a B.S. in Psychology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County, where I worked on studies of clinical, cognitive, and social functioning.

Nadir Bilici

Nadir Bilici

Student Researcher

After studying neurobiology at UC Berkeley, I worked as a product manager developing health & fitness apps in Palo Alto. I am now a fourth year medical student at Perelman School of Medicine and am interested in the intersection of technology and medicine. In the ChatLab, I am researching how implicit biases are shaped by our perception of facial features. Beyond the lab and clinic, I develop mobile apps, teach culinary medicine, and get outside as much as possible to hike, camp, ski, and play frisbee.

Dexian He

Dexian He

Student Researcher

I am interested in the role of experience in forming individual face preferences. In ChatLab, my project focuses on how viewer age and subject age interact to affect the perception of facial attractiveness. I am a second-year doctoral student at the School of Psychology, South China Normal University. I received my master’s degree from SCNU in 2018 where I investigated the relation between obesity and cognitive control, and how it can be modulated by aesthetics of food. Beyond research, I enjoy reading, jogging, and traveling.

Charlie Siegel

Charlie Siegel

Student Researcher

I am a Senior at Haverford college, pursuing a B.A in Psychology along with a minor in Neuroscience. My past experiences stem from an interest in medicine and healthcare. Previously, at the Johns Hopkins Hospital, I worked as a research assistant in the Neurosciences Critical Care Unit, where I explored the challenges of extubating patients with acute neurological injury who are often intubated for airway protection. My curiosity in how clinical neuroscience interfaces cognitive science has informed my work here at ChatLab, where I am studying the relationship between neuroaesthetics and cognitive enhancement as part of my Senior Thesis. More specifically, I am interested in how incidental social information can impact our moral attitudes about cognitive enhancement. After completing my undergraduate degree, I will be attending Sidney Kimmel Medical School at Jefferson University, where I will also be exploring my research interests in health policy as part of the curriculum’s population health critical inquiry track.

Yuchao Wang

Yuchao Wang

Student Researcher

Yuchao Wang is pursuing his B.A. in cognitive science at Haverford College. He currently conducts thesis research in ChatLab on how the brain responds to literariness in stories. Before this exciting journey in neuroaesthetics, he has researched on the biophysics of peacock feathers as perceived through avian and mammalian vision, which has evolutionary implications. In his free time, he enjoys Bach on Youtube and puppies on Instagram.

Zack Zapatero

Zack Zapatero

Student Researcher

Zack Zapatero is a 4th year medical student at The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. During his time at Penn, his passion for academic plastic surgery has flourished and has led him to take a year off of medical school to be a plastic surgery clinical research fellow at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. In an exciting collaboration between the ChatLab and CHOP plastic surgery, Zack is exploring how eye-tracking can be used to identify hot spot regions of the face to guide craniofacial surgeries to maximize patient aesthetic outcomes.


Our associated research group at Penn is ChatLab. Website for ChatLab →

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