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2017-18 Graduate Student Mentors (GSMs)

Graduate Student Mentor, Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program
Facilitator, CUSP Columbia Journey Seminar

Daniel Barulli is a PhD student in the psychology department at Columbia University who is studying the cognitive neuroscience of aging and neuroplastic mechanisms in learning. His dissertation is specifically focused on how individuals of all ages can acquire and use alternative cognitive strategies to perform cognitive tasks that are usually associated with a limited way of thinking, but which can be also approached in more “out-of-the-box” ways. Using such strategies, he hopes to find a more robust way of “training the brain” to prepare older individuals to make better decisions about matters ranging from their medical care to their retirement packages. Such techniques will also become increasingly important to younger individuals who are being forced to process more information over a brief period than humanity has ever had to process before.

Daniel was born and received his undergraduate education in Lowell, Massachusetts, where he studied philosophy before transitioning into the sciences. He has been a teaching fellow at Columbia for courses ranging from statistics to behavioral neuroscience, and has designed and taught his own seminars here about the neurobiological changes people undergo across the lifespan. This is his first year as a GSM.

Graduate Student Mentor, Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program
Facilitator, CUSP Columbia Journey Seminar

Nemira Gasiunas is a PhD student in the philosophy department at Columbia University, working in the philosophy of perception. Her dissertation concerns the conscious perception of relations of comparison. What is it to perceive comparisons between properties - to perceive one thing as redder than another, or longer than another, or the same shape as another? What can our comparative perceptions tell us about the nature of the mind? How can these questions be applied to illuminate the natures of aesthetic experiences?   

Nemira was born in Manchester, England, and received her Bachelors degree in French and Philosophy from the University of Oxford. She spent a year studying at the Sorbonne as an Erasmus Scholar, and has taught English and French in francophone Senegal. During her time at Columbia, she has taught a class on the Philosophy of Psychology, and served as a teaching assistant for classes on Metaphysics, Ethics and Aesthetics. She has also been involved for a number of years in the Columbia University Outreach program, taking a weekly philosophy class into the Manhattan Free School. This is her second year serving as a GSM. 

Nemira has a lifelong love of literature, travel and visual art. In her spare time, she takes full advantage of being an inhabitant of New York City.

Graduate Student Mentor, Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program
Facilitator, CUSP Columbia Journey Seminar

Alexander Lash is a PhD candidate in the Department of English and Comparative Literature, where he researches the theater of the 16th and 17th centuries. His dissertation asks what it means that Shakespeare and his contemporaries wrote their plays for playhouses that did not use sets or other visual markers of setting. Playwrights still tended to imagine rich fictional worlds, ranging from magical forests to the shops and streets found in their own London environment, and they developed a rich range of theatrical techniques to present these worlds onstage. Alexander's dissertation begins by looking at practical issues of staging plays -- when do different actors enter the stage? where does the music come from? what props get carried on? -- and moves on to ask how these theatrical decisions came to shape how audiences experienced the world around them.

Alexander was born in Seattle and raised in Sweden. He received his BA in English and Philosophy from Seattle Pacific University, a Post-Baccalaureate degree in Philosophy from the Sorbonne, and his MA in English at Fordham. At Columbia, he has taught University Writing and Literary Texts, Critical Methods (the introductory course to the English Major), as well as serving as a teaching assistant in courses on Shakespeare and on Gothic Fiction.

Graduate Student Mentor, Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program
Facilitator, CUSP Columbia Journey Seminar

Jorge Morales is a PhD candidate in the Department of Philosophy. His research lies at the intersection of philosophy of mind and cognitive science, including introspection, consciousness, metacognition and attention. In the past he has done philosophical research on animal cognition.
Jorge is developing in his dissertation a model of introspection inspired by perception according to which conscious experiences have different degrees of mental strength. Since 2011, Jorge has been affiliated to Hakwan Lau's Lab (now at UCLA). More recently, he is collaborating on an fMRI project with Lau and Steve Fleming (UCL) on metacognition of perception and memory. Jorge also has published empirical work on attention and perceptual decisions, and theoretical work on neuroimaging and the neural correlates of consciousness.

Graduate Student Mentor, Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program
Facilitator, CUSP Columbia Journey Seminar

Matteo Pace is a Ph.D. candidate in Italian and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. Before moving to New York, he earned a Laurea triennale in Lettere (B.A. in Literature) at Sapienza University of Rome, with a thesis in Romance Philology and Literatures in which he analyzed Medieval texts from a cognitive and metaphorical perspective.

He is currently working on his dissertation on the intersections between Medieval medicine, science, and philosophy, and the early Italian lyric tradition, from the Sicilian school of the 13th century to Dante. His research focuses on the presence of medical and physiological imagery in the vernacular literatures, on the transmission of Aristotelian and Galenic science in poetry, and on the ethical implications of an enmattered and embodied soul.

He worked on Boccaccio, Cavalcanti, and Dino del Garbo, on Giacomo da Lentini and Aristotle’s physiology, on William IX of Aquitaine and the Archpoet, on Thomas’ Tristan et Yseut, on Catherine of Siena, and on three entries for Brill’s Encyclopedia of Medieval Chronicles.

While at Columbia, he served as a Teaching Fellow and as a Research Assistant for the Italian department, both in New York and for the Summer Program in Venice. He also led discussion seminars on Dante and Boccaccio, and gave lectures on Dante's Commedia at the Sheen Center for Thought and Culture and the Brooklyn Public Library. He is currently an Assistant Editor to the Dante Digital Project at Columbia University.

Columbia Undergraduate Scholars Program


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