Lab Director


Dr. Nichole Lighthall is an Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Applied Experimental and Human Factors program. She holds a BA in psychology from the UC Berkeley and a PhD in gerontology from the University of Southern California, where she worked with Dr. Mara Mather. Before coming to UCF, Dr. Lighthall completed her postdoctoral training at Duke University in the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience with Drs. Roberto Cabeza and Scott Huettel. The goal of her research program is to develop a neural model of decision processing that can be used to identify age-related vulnerabilities and pathways to compensation. She is particularly interested in how age-related changes to cognitive and affective components of decision making impact decision processing and quality.

phone: 407-823-2216 email: nichole.lighthall[at]ucf[dot]edu CV

Graduate Students

KylieKylie Fernandez is a third-year PhD student in the Human Factors and Cognitive program. She holds a BS in psychology from Georgia Institute of Technology and also completed two internships in the Air Force Repperger Program as an undergraduate. As a graduate student, her research interests include using biomarker and neuroscience methods to investigate human factors and applied psychology topics such as decision making and stress.

Lindsay Conner is a second-year PhD student in the Human Factors and Cognitive program. Originally from Florida, she studied neuroscience at University of Miami, followed by a master’s program in biomedical imaging at University of California, San Francisco. Her research interests involve identifying and tracking cognitive changes (e.g., memory and decision making) via imaging modalities (e.g., fMRI and DTI) with age. 

Lab Manager

Ian Dalton

Ian Dalton is a graduate student with a background at UCF in psychology and cognitive sciences. His interests are in neuroinformatics, data science, and methodology for studying complex systems.

Undergraduate Research assistants

Yerika Germosen is a junior at UCF majoring in psychology. She is the vice-president for the Multicultural Psychological Student Association (MPSA) and a fellow for the Global Perspectives Office at UCF. Her research interests include: cultural neuroscience, cognitive flexbility, and epigenetics. She plans to pursue a career in academia.

Lara Suarez

Lara Suarez is a sophomore at UCF majoring in Psychology and minoring in Health Sciences. She is a member of the National Society of Leadership & Success and Phi Eta Sigma at UCF. She currently volunteers at the Orlando Veterans Affairs Medical Center and assists in the physical and mental care of women veterans. Her research interests include cognition and cognitive neuroscience. She plans on pursuing a PhD in Cognitive Neuropsychology.

Madelaine Guernsey is a junior at UCF majoring in Psychology.  She is currently an intern at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security working as an investigative support assistant.  Her research interests include cognition and decision making.  She plans on pursuing a PhD in Cognitive Psychology.

Kipras Varkala is a junior at UCF majoring in psychology. He is a technology intern at Career Readiness Solutions assisting with human factors and website design. He is also a Teaching Assistant for Dr. Karen Mottarella and a member of the Tau Sigma Honors Society. His interests in research include behavioral and cognitive neuroscience. He is planning on pursuing a PhD in Abnormal Psychology.

Deborah Amburgey is a junior at UCF majoring in Psychology. She is a UNITE ambassador for Transfer and Transition Services and develops ways for students to get involve on UCF campus. Her interests include neuro-imaging, decision making, and socio-cultural impacts on cognition. Deborah plans to pursue her PhD after graduating from UCF. 



If you are interested in becoming an RA, click here for more info!


Roberto Cabeza, Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Duke University

Natalie Ebner, Department of Psychology, University of Florida

Scott Huettel, Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Duke University

Camelia Kuhnen, Kenan-Flagler Businss School, University of North Carolina

Mara Mather, Davis School of Gerontology, University of Southern California

Daniel Paulson, Department of Psychology, University of Central Florida

John Pearson, Center for Cognitive Neuroscience, Duke University

Kiminobu Sugaya, Burnett School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Central Florida



Melissa Merz, James Ross, Richard Bowen, Amber Goerner, Erin Doucet, Alexa Abitabilo, Andressa Faria, Adrian Torres, Jessalyn Landeta