Current IBRAiN Fellows

The CT Institute for the Brain and Cognitive Sciences (IBaCS) offers IBACS-BIRC Research Assistantships in Neuroimaging (IBRAiN). After formal training, IBRAiN fellows provide a teaching resource to help BIRC users design and implement experimental procedures for fMRI, EEG, TMS and other methodologies, provide resources for data analysis, and oversee use of equipment by others. Please review the IBRAiN Policy for more information about how you can use this great resource.
If you are interested in becoming an IBRAiN fellow, you can find more information about IBRAiN alumni and application instructions at

Wesley Leong, Research Software Engineer Fellow

Wesley Leong

Office Hours Spring 2024: Wednesdays 9:30AM-11:30AM, Data Processing Room

I work on how we process events through language. I’m currently working on two related questions: (1) How do we represent time in events? (2) How do we dynamically build representations of the world as language unfolds? To understand these processes in the mind and brain, I use a combination of behavioral tasks and neuroimaging.

Before coming to grad school, I spent a couple of years at a neuromodulation startup working with tDCS/tACS and EEG. As their resident research engineer, I also wrote some code. I’m most familiar with Python (including research-oriented packages like psychopy, mne, and pandas) but I also have experience with Matlab and R.
I can help with:
  •  Code review: I can be a second set of eyes on your code! You don’t even need to be having a problem – I’ve found it helpful to walk through working code with someone to make sure it’s doing what I want.
  • Experiment design: I can be a sounding board for you to bounce ideas off of when designing your experiment. In particular, I can help look for any technical challenges you might face in implementing it.
  • Experiment setup: Once you’ve got your experiment script, I can help you set up with the experiment equipment at BIRC and any troubleshooting you might have.


Kelly Mahaffy, MRI Operator Fellow

Kelly Mahaffey

Office Hours Spring 2024: Tuesdays 1:30PM-3:00PM, MRI Suite

My research focuses on reading comprehension and, particularly, better understanding the neurobiology and neurochemistry that underlie fluent reading comprehension. I am especially interested in trying to link brain structure, function, and behavior as well as exploring a potential role for the Default Mode Network in reading comprehension. Prior to joining the lab, I earned a MA in Literature with an emphasis on Cognitive Literary Theory, a BA in English and Linguistics with minors in Cognitive Science, Child Studies, and History, and was a k-12 teacher. I am at my happiest when working with children doing neuroimaging such as MRI.  At the BIRC, I help with MRI scanning and other kinds of neuroimaging, especially neuroimaging with children and those with developmental and cognitive disabilities and impairments. 

My background is in education, child studies, and all things kids and special populations. While an RA, I spent time collecting EEG and MRI data with children and special populations, learning how to analyze MRI data, and am now beginning my trek into integrated MRI and eye tracking and integrated EEG and fNIRS.
I can help with:
  •  MRI project design and protocol review: I can be a sounding board for ideas about MRI experiments, thoughts about how to design your protocol to get the most amount of high quality, usable data, and considerations for project design with kids or special populations.
  • MRI methods: I can help to provide training on working with participants in MRI, preparing them for scanning, and/or how to use some BIRC equipment like the in-scan eye tracker.
  • EEG data collection: I can provide training on the BIRC EEG system and capping, especially capping children or squirmy participants, as needed!
  • MRI preprocessing: Once your data is collected, I am happy to assist with training on preprocessing methods/softwares including MRIQC, FreeSurfer, FSL, fMRIPrep, etc.


Hannah Mechtenberg, User Support Fellow

Hannah Mechtenberg

Office Hours Spring 2024: Thursdays 9:00AM-11:00AM, Data Processing Room

I study how the brain balances ambiguity in the signal and prediction during spoken language processing. My questions vary from how processing effort changes based on low-level acoustic details to what types of linguistic signals the cerebellum is sensitive to. I use a combination of methods—behavioral, fMRI, TMS, pupillometry—to investigate these questions. To complement my academic work, I also dedicate time towards science outreach, science communication, and finding ways to prioritize participant experience during research.

I can help you with:

  • Neuroimaging methodology support: I can introduce you to each neuroimaging method the BIRC has available (e.g., MRI, TMS, EEG, eye tracking), guide you through the types of research questions best suited for each method, and help you as you implement your study
  • Experiment design: I am happy to work with you to design your study and optimize it for the chosen method. I have extensive personal experience designing various fMRI, TMS, and eye tracking studies.
  • Participant experience: Each person that agrees to participate in your study deserves to have a safe and engaging experience. I have many tips, tricks, and techniques to share with you on how to prioritize participant experience so they go home safe, happy, and a little more knowledgeable!