Dr. Reyna's Lab Members Spring 2017

Reyna lab members Spring 2017

Dr. Reyna's Lab Members Fall 2016

Reyna lab members Fall 2016

Back Row: Jim Li, Susie Lu, Peter Ajayi, Shahin Rahimi (postdoc), Elyse Katz, Tristan Ponzo, Joe DeTello, Christos Panagiotopoulos (grad). 
Middle Row: Shravya Govindgari, Pooja Shah, Rachel Novick, Madison Ulczak, Kiara Thompson, Jen Greenberg, Ali Jenkins, Alexa Turpin, Garrett Heller, Ali Franz, Anna Karavengelas, Nicole Levine, Stacey Chen, Rochelle Tsemekhin, Christine Lin, Yuval Erez (grad). 
Front Row: Bertrand Reyna-Brainerd, Ziyi Chen (grad), Rebecca Helm (grad; laboratory leader), Dr. Valerie Reyna (laboratory coordinator), David Garavito (grad), Lindsay Dower, Kate Fruitman, Nora Rabah, Jamie Methven, Alisha Meschkow (grad). 
Not in Picture: Paige Varney, Robert Rong, Elana Molotsky. 

Previous years' photos   Lab Member Achievements

Valerie Reyna portrait

Valerie Reyna, Director 

Dr. Reyna is Professor of Human Development and Psychology at Cornell University, Co-director of the Cornell University Magnetic Resonance Imaging Facility and a Co-director of the Center for Behavioral Economics and Decision Research. Dr. Reyna holds a Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Rockefeller University. Her research encompasses human judgment and decision making, numeracy and quantitative reasoning, risk and uncertainty, medical decision making, social judgment, and false memory. She is a developer of fuzzy-trace theory, a model of the relation between mental representations and decision making that has been widely applied in law, medicine, and public health. Her recent work has focused on aging, neurocognitive impairment, and genetic risk factors (e.g., in Alzheimer's disease); rationality and risky decision making, particularly risk taking in adolescence; and neuroimaging models of framing and decision making. She has also extended fuzzy-trace theory to risk perception, numeracy, and dual processes in medical decision making by both physicians and patients.

Brainerd portrait

Charles Brainerd, Collaborator 

Dr. Brainerd holds B.S., M.A., and Ph.D. degrees in experimental and developmental psychology. He has published over 200 research articles and chapters, and he has also published over 20 books. His research covers areas such as human memory and decision-making, statistics and mathematical modeling, cognitive neuroscience, learning, intelligence, cognitive development, learning disability and child abuse. Dr. Brainerd's current research program centers on the relation between memory and higher reasoning abilities in children and adults, and it also focuses on false-memory phenomena. Together with Valerie Reyna, he is the co-developer of fuzzy-trace theory, a model of the relation between memory and higher reasoning that has been widely applied within medicine and law. He directs the Memory and Neuroscience Lab.


Current Team Leaders

David Garavito

David Garavito, JD / Ph.D. Student

David is a J.D./Ph.D. student in Law, Psychology, and Human Development. His research interests primarily lie in cognitive theory and neuroscience, specifically neuroeconomics and decision making.  Currently, his research focuses on the perception of risks within the context of sports and the cognitive and neural effects of concussive and sub-concussive injuries. He also conducts research on memory and the judgment of probabilities and is interested in using advanced models and theory to understand the behavioral effects of neurodegenerative diseases in at-risk populations.


Krystia Reed, Post-Doctoral Associate

Dr. Reed has a Ph.D. in psychology and a J.D. from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and is a licensed attorney in California. She is interested in understanding how legal actors (i.e., attorneys, juries, judges, probation officers, and voters) make legal decisions and how those decisions can be improved. Dr. Reed is a Post-Doctoral Associate at Cornell working on Dr. Reyna's National Science Foundation grant investigating jury damage awards. She is also working with the Laboratory for Rational Decision Making Psychology and Law Team investigating factors that influence plea bargaining decisions.

Alisha Meschkow

Alisha Meschkow, Law, Psychology and Human Development Graduate Student

Alisha is a Ph.D. student in Law, Psychology, and Human Development. She conducts research in law, emotion, and decision-making. She is currently using advanced theory related to information-processing, judgment and decision-making to investigate how defendants, jurors, and attorneys make choices. She is also interested in the attitudes that influence judgments ranging from plea bargains to verdicts on sexual assault. She hopes to create positive change in pressing areas of the criminal justice system with her work.

Ziyi Chen

Ziyi Chen, Statistics Graduate Student

Ziyi is a Ph.D. student majoring in Statistics and minoring in Human Development. He is applying advanced techniques in mathematics and statistics in order to understand the brain and mind. He is currently working on a detailed mathematical model of fuzzy-trace theory and decision-making.

Christos Panagiotopoulos, Anthropology Graduate Student.

Christos is a Ph.D. student in Anthropology, who is researching in the areas of epistemology, clinical anthropology and axiology. His work investigates theoretical, ethnographic and neuroscientific approaches to finance and economics, psychopathology, and comparative epistemological models.

Yuval Erez, Economics Graduate Student

Amy Chong, Human Development Graduate Student

Bridget Hayes, Human Development Graduate Student

Sarah Edelson, Human Development Graduate Student

Christian Klepes, Human Development Graduate Student

Current Undergraduate Lab Members

Psychology and Law Team: Rachel Novick (Team Leader), Kiara Thompson, Vincent Calderon, Sarah Dincin, and Renee Williamson.

Health and Medical Decision Making Team: Christine Lin (Team Leader), Robert Rong (Team Leader), Rochelle Tsemekhin, Austin Chu, Michelle Galindez, Nnamdi Iqwe, Christian Ong, and Pratik Vadlamundi.

Neuroscience Team: Lindsey Tarpinian (Team Leader), Bailey Landow (Team Leader), Susie Lu, Peter Ajayi, Carlos Alcocer, Chukwuka Anyene, Matthew Chen, Lauren Gillott, Anekha Goyal, James Kim, Nicole Nudelman, Joanna Papadakis, Eli Reeves, Varun Rohatgi, Vivian Utti, and Iris Zhao.

Behavioral Economics Project: Jim Li

Collaborators and Alumni


Shahin Rahimi, Postdoctoral Associate

Shahin is a post-doctoral research scholar. He graduated with a PhD in Psychology in 2016. His research concerns the neural and behavioral correlates of cognitive control in neurotypical populations and those with developmental disorders, individual differences in reward sensitivity, and the determinants of risky decision-making, temporal discounting, and delay of gratification.


Rebecca Helm 

Dr. Helm is on the faculty in Law at the University of Exeter and a qualified attorney in England, Wales and New York. She uses quantitative approaches based on psychological theory and brain imaging (fMRI) to investigate how decisions are made in the legal system, and how changing legal standards can promote rational and informed legal judgments. She is especially interested in using this work to promote the enforcement of human rights and to protect underprivileged participants in the legal system.


Rebecca Weldon, Postdoctoral Associate

Dr. Weldon is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Juniata College and holds a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience from the George Washington University. Her dissertation work focused on working memory capacity and cognitive control. Working with the Laboratory for Rational Decision Making, she uses fuzzy-trace theory to investigate individual differences and risk taking in behavior and the brain. Her research uses behavioral measures and neuroscientific methods to understand risky decision making in adolescents and adults.  

Selected Publications

Weldon, R. B., Corbin, J. C., & Reyna, V. F. (2013). Gist processing in judgment and decision making: Developmental reversals predicted by fuzzy-trace theory. In H. Markovits (Ed.), Understanding the development of reasoning and decision-making. Psychology Press. 

Selected Papers & Posters Presented

Reyna, V. F., Chick, C. F., Weldon, R. B., Corbin, J. C., Wilhelms, E. A. (2013, May). Individual differences in gist representation versus sensation-seeking in neuroimaging of framing effects. Paper presented at the 3rd Annual Interdisciplinary Symposium on Decision Neuroscience, Philadelphia, PA. 

Weldon, R. B., Reyna, V. F., Wilhelms, E. A., Corbin, J. C., Chick, C., & Brust-Renck, P. G. (2013, November).Sensation seeking and response-scale effects on rating versus categorizing rewards: A fuzzy-trace theory account. Poster presented at the 34th Annual Meeting of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, Toronto, Canada. 


Michael McCormick, Postdoctoral Associate

Dr. McCormick holds a Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. His research examines how differences in processing style influence the formation of judgments and decisions, including the relationships between analytic/contextual processing, hemispheric asymmetry, and judgment errors.

Selected Publications

McCormick, M., & Seta, J. J. (2012). Lateralized goal framing: How selective presentation impacts message effectiveness. Journal of Health Psychology, 17, 1099-1109. http://dx.doi.org/10.1177/1359105311435944.

McCormick, M., & Seta, J. J. (2011). A new method for selectively enhancing hemisphere processing: Voice frequency amplification influences the strength of attribute framing. Laterality, 17, 727-735. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1357650X.2011.626559.

McElroy, T., McCormick, M., Stroh, N., & Seta, J. J. (2011). An investigation of measurement validity for a hemispheric activation scale. Laterality, 17, 736-740. http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/1357650X.2011.626560.

Seta, J. J., McCormick, M., Gallagher, P., McElroy, T., & Seta, C. E. (2010). Voice frequency impacts hemispheric processing of attribute frames. Journal of Experimental Social Psychology, 46, 1089-1092.

Selected Papers & Posters Presented

McCormick, M., & Seta, J. J. (2013, November). Color Frequency Affects Attribute Frames. Poster session presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, Toronto, Canada.

Voss, R., Corser, R., McCormick, M., & Jasper, J. D. (2013, November). Influencing Health Decision Making: A Study of Color and Message Framing. Poster session presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, Toronto, Canada.

McCormick, M., & Seta, J. J. (2012, November). Amplified Goal Framing. Poster session presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, Minneapolis, MN.

McCormick, M., & Seta, J. J. (2011, November). Amplified Attribute Framing. Poster session presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, Seattle, WA.

David Broniatowski

David Broniatowski, Collaborator

Dr. Broniatowski holds a Ph.D. in Engineering Systems, as well as a dual-Master's in Aero/Astro Engineering and Technology and Policy. He is a professor at the George Washington University, and is currently collaborating with the Laboratory for Rational Decision Making. His research includes decision-making under risk, group decision-making, system architecture, and behavioral epidemiology, and he draws on a variety of techniques ranging from natural language processing (applied to social media and meeting transcripts) to more conventional survey and experimental designs. He actively collaborates with computer scientists, engineers, experimental psychologists, physicians, and sociologists in order to develop data-driven theories, specifically in how members of different social and demographic groups construct meaning in public health settings.

Evan Wilhelms

Evan Wilhelms

Dr. Wilhelm's research interests lie in the field of cognitive psychology. His primary topic of interest is judgment and decision making, with implications for financial and health well-being in adolescents and adults.

Selected Publications

Wilhelms, E. A., Reyna, V. F., Brust-Renck, P. G., Weldon, R. B., & Corbin, J. C. (in press). Gist representations and communication of risks about HIV-AIDS: A fuzzy-trace theory approach. Current HIV Research. 

Wilhelms, E. A., & Reyna, V. F. (2015). Neuroeconomics, judgment, and decision making. New York, NY: Psychology Press. 

Wilhelms, E. A., & Reyna, V. F. (2013). Fuzzy trace theory and medical decisions by minors: Differences in reasoning between adolescents and adults. Journal of Medicine and Philosophy, 38 (3).

Honors & Awards



Harold Feldman, Flemmie Kittrell, Virginia Cutler, Esther Stocks, and Flora Rose Fellowship Recipient

Recipient of the 2011-2012 Ricciuti TA Award for accomplishment in teaching and mentoring students.


Graduate Team Member, Cornell Institute for Social Sciences; Judgment, Decision Making, and Social Behavior Theme Project

Jonathan Corbin

Jonathan Corbin

Papers & Posters Presented

Reyna, V.F., Wilhelms, E.A., Brust, P.G., Sui, W., Pardo, S.T., & Corbin, J.C. (2011, November). Delay discounting and reward sensitivity: A fuzzy trace theory approach. Poster presented at the 32nd annual meeting of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, Seattle, WA.

Brust, P.G., Reyna, V.F., Wilhelms, E.A., Sui, W., & Corbin, J.C. (2011, November). The gist of choice: The role of numbers in decision making. Poster presented at the 32nd annual meeting of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, Seattle, WA.
Honors & Awards


Graduate Team Member, Cornell Institute for Social Sciences; Judgment, Decision Making, and Social Behavior Theme Project

P. Brust

Priscila Brust-Renck, Collaborator

Dr. Brust-Renck holds a Ph.D in developmental psychology from Cornell University. Her research lies in the fields of cognitive psychology and behavioral economics and decision research. In particular, her work focuses on judgment and decision making and numerical condition with implications for health and medical decision making and risk communication. Her latest projects include developing a gist numeracy scale and interventions to communicate risk about breast cancer and genetic risk and about obesity prevention. She is particularly interested in the theoretical mechanisms guiding human decision processes.

Selected Publications

Brust-Renck, P. G. , Reyna, V. F., Corbin, J. C., Royer, C. E., Weldon, R. B. (2015). The role of numeracy in risk communication. In H. Cho, T. Reimer, & K. A. McComas (Eds.), The Sage Handbook of Risk Communication (pp. 134-148). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Brust-Renck, P. G. , Royer, C. E., & Reyna, V. F. (2013). Communicating numerical risk: Human factors that aid understanding in health care. Review of Human Factors and Ergonomics, 8(1), 235-276.

Wolfe, C. R., Reyna, V. F., Widmer, C. L., Cedillos, E. M., Fisher, C. R., Brust-Renck, P. G., & Weil, A. M. (2015).Efficacy of a web-based intelligent tutoring system for communicating genetic risk of breast cancer: A fuzzy-trace theory approach . Medical Decision Making, 35(1), 46-59. doi:10.1177/0272989X14535983

Chrissie Chick

Christina Chick

Chrissie studies determinants of risky decision making, including mental representations, reward response, and inhibition. Her work focuses on the interaction of emotion and numerical cognition with each of these processes. She is particularly interested in developmental differences, as revealed by behavioral and fMRI data.

Selected Publications

Chick, C. F. (2014). Basic mechanisms of numerical processing: Symbolic and nonsymbolic numerosity in the intraparietal sulcus. Journal of Neuroscience, 34(5), 1567-1569. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.4771-13.2014

Reyna, V. F., Chick, C. F., Corbin, J. C., & Hsia, A. N. (2014). Developmental reversals in risky decision-making: Intelligence agents show larger decision biases than college students. Psychological Science,25(1), 76-84. doi: 10.1177/0956797613497022

Papers & Posters Presented

Weldon, R. B., Reyna, V. F., Corbin, J. C., Chick, C. F., Brust-Renck, P. G., & Setton, R. A. (2014, November). Gist processing predicts performance on the emotional go/no-go task: A fuzzy-trace theory account. Poster presented at the 35th Annual Meeting of the Society for Judgment and Decision Making, Long Beach, CA.

Reyna, V. F., Evans, A. E., Chick, C. F., Weldon, R. B., Corbin, J. C., & Wilhelms, E. A. (2014, November). Gist representations reduce risk-taking despite heightened reward sensitivity.  Paper presented at the 55th Annual Meeting of the Psychonomic Society, Long Beach, CA.

Chick, C. F.,Reyna, V. F., Weldon, R. B., Corbin, J. C., Jones-Rounds, J. (2014, September). Neural correlates of framing effects in highly numerate individuals. Poster presented at the Annual Meeting of the Society for Neuroeconomics, Miami, FL.

Honors & Awards   


Research Grant Award from Cornell Institute for Social Sciences (Judgment, Behavior and Decision Making theme project) to fund fMRI and behavioral data collection with 40 adolescents. Co-Author: V.F. Reyna


Graduate Research Fellowship, Cornell Graduate Field of Cognitive Sciences


Graduate Team Member, Cornell Institute for Social Sciences; Judgment, Decision Making, and Social Behavior Theme Project


Cornell Graduate School Conference Travel Grant

2009 2011

Graduate Field Representative, elected by Human Development graduate cohort