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 during the academic year 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. Click here for more information about applying to this program.

IBRAiN Fellows will provide virtual and in-person support in Fall 2021 by request.

Current Students

Steven Masi Steven Masi
Research Interests: My research interests are focused on the interaction between the internal structure of organisms and the external environment; particularly, I am focused on how the specific dynamics of a task and the individual’s contact with the environment affects stable patterns and accuracy/efficiency in task performance.
Skyler Sklenarik Skyler Sklenarik
Research Interests: My goal is to examine addictive behaviors from a neurocognitive perspective using fMRI and other neuroimaging techniques. I am also interested in exploring the clinical potential of techniques such as rTMS as an intervention for addiction.
Martina Villa Martina Villa
Research Interests: Reading is a complex cognitive function for which the brain is not congenitally wired, yet reading disabilities have a probable genetic causation. I am interested in using cutting edge techniques to integrate multimodal neuroimaging data to better study the relationship between genetics and reading (dis)abilities as mediated by the brain.

IBRAiN Alumni


Bri Oshiro
Research Interests: Using neuroimaging techniques and fMRI methods, I am interested in studying mathematical problem-solving from a neurocognitive perspective. I am primarily interested in developing expert models of brain activation of problem-solving as well as developing ways to translate this research into effective pedagogical practices.
Aliyar Ozercan
Research Interests: My overall goal is to take ‘Language’ as a whole and study it from the perspectives of Philosophy of Language (and Mind), Linguistics, and Cognitive Science. My current research is focused on the neural activity of encoding and decoding contextual representations. How does one pick out the right/intended representation? How can one figure out (and/or pick) the right referents of ‘Hank’ and ‘Mary,’ among the many Hanks and Marys that they know, when they hear ‘Hank said that he loves Mary’? From the other side’s perspective, how can one think about the right ‘Hank’ and ‘Mary,’ among the many Hanks and Marys that they know, as they utter ‘Hank said that he loves Mary’?
Yi Wei
Research interests: I’m interested in the relationship between rhythmic abilities and language skills in non-clinical and clinical populations (patients with non-fluent aphasia and children with developmental dyslexia). My research looks at this relationship at both behavioral and neural levels (using sMRI and high density EEG). I’m also interested in how to improve rhythm based music therapy techniques that are currently being used with these two populations.



Yanina Prystauka
Research Interests: My research looks at how episodic and semantic memory systems interact during sentence comprehension. Specifically, I am interested in the neural underpinnings of representing object tokens in their different states. The use of simultaneous EEG + fMRI recording will allow me to track the time course of instantiating, maintaining and retrieving the representations of object token-states as the sentence unfolds, as well as identify neural pathways supporting the above mentioned processes.
Emily Yearling
Research Interests: My research focuses on how our memories, actions, and our cognitive system mutually influence our behavior, goals, and understanding of the world in the moment and across time. Successful goal directed action requires us to individuate objects we interact with and track them through time. What we remember about the objects and how we interact with them in the present moment could be shaped by our memory from previous experiences and our goals – both of which are constantly in flux as our environment and our internal states change. My research uses fMRI to investigate how these memories, goals, and perceptions influence changes in the developing cognitive system that manifest as differential patterns of task-dependent and resting state functional connectivity.


Charles Davis
Research Interests: The brain activates and represents meaning in complex ways. At a cognitive level, we deal with meaning using concepts which help to guide action and predict outcomes over a wide range of contexts. My research uses fMRI to examine the functional and structural connectivity underlying concept networks, representationally and as they develop in learning, as well as electrophysiology to examine activation dynamics.
Monica Li Monica Li
Research Interests: I am interested in the cognitive and neural mechanisms underlying spoken word recognition, particularly regarding how top-down (e.g., attention, context) and bottom-up (e.g., speech signal, noise) information interact to determine speech perception. I would like to utilize simultaneous fMRI and EEG to tap into the feedback and feedforward mechanisms in speech. I’m experienced with collecting and analyzing fMRI data with various experimental designs and analysis approaches (e.g., ANOVA, functional connectivity, correlation analysis, ROI, DTI). I’m honored to be part of the IBRAIN training program to advance my neuroimaging skills and to assist IBACS in providing the technical, intellectual, and educational support to the UConn research community.
Monica Ly

In collaboration with the BrainScope study, I aim to conjoin rs-MRI and DTI results to develop a machine learning algorithm to classify mild traumatic brain injury from no injury; this algorithm will distinguish recently concussed athletes from matched controls.

Xu Zhang
Research Interests: My research focuses on identifying the cerebellar mechanisms of essential tremor, one of the most prevalent movement disorders in the world, through computational modeling. Along this line of research, I am now exploring alternative targets of deep brain stimulation for essential tremor, and my eventual goal is to develop effective noninvasive neurostimulation protocols, such as tDCS and TMS, to treat the disease.


Tim Michaels Tim Michaels
Research Interests: My research utilizes a variety of neuroimaging methods, including fMRI, resting state connectivity (rsfMRI), diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), and magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS), to examine the neural correlates of perceptual abnormalities and cognitive deficits in patients with schizophrenia. Specifically, I am interested in understanding the neurodevelopmental mechanisms by which pathophysiology in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex confer increased risk for psychosis during adolescence/early adulthood. Through such approaches, my research aims to identify promising new targets for disease prevention and treatment.
Kayleigh Ryherd Kayleigh Ryherd
Research Interests: I primarily study poor comprehenders, individuals who have poor reading comprehension despite intact decoding ability. In the past, I’ve used fMRI to determine that poor comprehenders show atypical activation across modalities and processing levels. My current research interest involves using fMRI to determine what may be contributing to the deficit in concept and category learning that I’ve observed in this population.