James D. Rounds
James D. Rounds
Ph.D. student

G201 Martha Van Rensselaer Hall



Through my life and research experiences, I've become fascinated with the question: how do we tap into our full potential? Specifically, I investigate "learning readiness", or the pre-stimulus neural and cognitive features that predict learning success. I believe these clues will reveal the depths of an individual's potential to learn. And tracking the development of these features, as well as how they vary over time, across individuals from diverse backgrounds, and across lifespans, will provide valuable insights into how to maximize tapped potential in our educational systems, work environments, and personal lives. With research and laboratory management experience spanning all five kingdoms of life, in the public and private sectors, I have benefited from exposure to a wide diversity of research goals and techniques. With a number of years of experience using EEG, fMRI and psychophysiology research methods, and under the guidance of my advisor Prof. Vivian Zayas and committee members Prof. Adam Anderson and Prof. Saleh Kalantari, I believe my graduate studies in Human Development leave me poised to successfully pursue these research questions.

I have seen in my own life, and in the lives of so many others, how valuable and life-changing a successful education can be. Success in education does not necessarily come in the form of specific grades; I think it is best measured
as a form of perseverance in the face of new knowledge or uncertainty. Leaving a student a little more informed and yet also more curious than they were before the class – that, to me, is a measure of successful teaching. 

I believe the most successful teaching strategy emerges from following a combination of several strands of thought and research: John Dewey’s constructivist philosophy, modern attachment theory, metacognitive learning theories and cognitive neuroscience. Students want to succeed, generally, and if a teacher can merely facilitate access to the material of interest, many students will do well. But when they struggle, and start to lose interest, focus, motivation, or belief in themselves, I believe we know enough now to confirm our intuitions that the most consistently positive outcomes for students of all backgrounds and experiences arise when as instructors we provide emotional and cognitive support in an individually responsive and respectful environment that emphasizes the growth potential and benefits resulting from effort and attention.


Cruz-Garza, J. G., Darfler, M., Rounds, J. D., Gao, E., & Kalantari, S. K. (2022). EEG-based Investigation of the Impact of Room Size and Window Placement on Cognitive Performance. Journal of Building Engineering, 53, 104540. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jobe.2022.104540

Kalantari, S.K., Tripathi, V., Kan, J., Rounds, J.D., Mostafavi, A., Snell, R., & Cruz-Garza, J.G. (2022). Evaluating the impacts of color, graphics, and architectural features on wayfinding in healthcare settings using EEG data and virtual response testing. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 17, 101744. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jenvp.2021.101744

Rosenfeld, D. L., Balcetis, E., Bastian, B., Berkman, E. T., Bosson, J. K., Brannon, T. N., Burrow, A. L., Cameron, C. D., Chen, S., Cook, J. E., Crandall, C., Davidai, S., Dhont, K., Eastwick, P. W., Gaither, S. E., Gangestad, S. W., Gilovich, T., Gray, K., Haines, E. L., Haselton, M. G., Haslam, N., Hodson, G., Hogg, M. A., Hornsey, M. J., Huo, Y. J., Joel, S., Kachanoff, F., Kraft-Todd, G., Leary, M. R., Ledgerwood, A., Lee, R. T., Loughnan, S., MacInnis, C. C., Mann, T., Murray, D. R., Parkinson, C., Pérez, E. O., Pyszczynski, T., Ratner, K., Rothgerber, H., Rounds, J. D., Shaller, M., Silver, R. C., Spellman, B. A., Strohminger, N., Swim, J. K., Thoemmes, F., Urganci, B., Vandello, J. A., Volz, S., Zayas, V., & Tomiyama, A. J. (2022). Psychological science in the wake of COVID-19: Social, methodological, and metascientific considerations. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 17, 311-333. https://doi.org/10.1177/1745691621999374

Kalantari, S. K., Rounds, J. D., Kan, J., Tripathi, V., & Cruz-Garza, J. G. (2021). Physiological Responses in Immersive Virtual Environments vs. Identical Real-world Environments. Scientific Reports, 11, 10227.

Rounds, J. D., Cruz-Garza, J. G., & Kalantari, S. K. (2020). Using Posterior EEG Theta Band to Assess the Effects of Architectural Designs on Landmark Recognition in an Urban Setting. Frontiers in Human Neuroscience, 14, 537. https://doi.org/10.3389/fnhum.2020.584385

Chick, C. F., Rounds, J. D., Hill, A. B., & Anderson, A. K. (2020). My Body, Your Emotions: Viscerosomatic modulation of facial expression discrimination. Biological Psychology, 149, 107779. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2019.107779

Rieger, G., Cash, B. M., Merrill, S. M., Jones-Rounds, J. D., Dharmavaram, S. M., & Savin-Williams, R. C. (2015). Sexual arousal: The correspondence of eyes and genitals. Biological Psychology, 104, 56-64. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsycho.2014.11.009

I am the father of three amazing boys, a husband to an incredible partner, a musical contributor to a Grammy-nominated children's album ("Healthy Food for Thought: Good Enough to Eat" which raised funds for healthy school food programs), a long-time advocate for youth engagement via the HOBY organization, and recently as President of my children's elementary school PTA organization. I have promoted STEM career opportunities and skills for hundreds of youth of various ages, including those from typically underrepresented groups, and have volunteered hundreds of hours towards improving regional sustainability efforts, most often with Cornell Cooperative Extension and their Master Composter program.

2006, BS, Science, Minor in Neuroscience, Pennsylvania State University

2022, MA, Developmental Psychology, Cornell University

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