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Student Bios

Alexis Young

Alexis Young is a doctoral student in Emory’s English department focusing on addiction, mental health, and disability theory in contemporary American literature. Her research explores the identity-forming, narrative, and political power of addiction and drug use. She is also interested in how advances in neurobiology, especially genetics and behaviorism, impact how culture and law understand addiction, drug use, and neurodiversity. Prior to Emory, Alexis completed an MA in English with a certificate in Disability Studies at Georgetown University and a BA in English and History at the University of Virginia.

Yeohong Yoon

Yeohong Yoon is a doctoral student in Marketing at Emory University's Goizueta Business School, working with Daniel McCarthy. Prior to pursuing his doctoral degree, he earned his BBA and MS in Business (Marketing) from Yonsei University. Yeohong's research focuses on analyzing spending behavior using credit card data, and he has collaborated with multiple companies in South Korea. His works have been published in the International Journal of Advertising, Industrial Marketing Management, and Journal of Interactive Marketing.

Federico (Fede) Sánchez Vargas

​Federico (Fede) Sánchez Vargas is a PhD student in biological anthropology. He is broadly interested in the evolution of social cognition, the potentially reciprocal relationship between different domains of cognition and positioning in the social hierarchy, and the developmental sources of individual variation in cognitive ability across multiple domains. Why have capuchins convergently evolved to be the “apes of the New World”, and what might this be able to tell us about the specific conditions leading to the evolution of similar cognitive profiles in phylogenetically distant species? In what ways do capuchins conceptualize their physical environment and the other social actors in it in ways uniquely shaped by their ecology and evolutionary history? He hopes to incorporate cognitive experiments in the wild to investigate natural inter-individual variation in the ability to solve novel problems.
Prior to attending Emory, Fede completed a B.S. in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, a B.A. in Psychology, and a certificate in cultural anthropology at the University of Rochester in New York. His previous research includes characterizing the manipulation of behavior in a primitively eusocial wasp by its obligate endoparasite, exploring the effects of individual manipulation on colony dynamics, and investigating social cognition and attention in marmoset monkeys using novel machine vision methods.

Cheng Liu

Cheng Liu is a doctoral student in the Department of Anthropology at Emory University. He has a wide range of research interests across Old World prehistory, hunter-gatherer societies, lithic analysis, and cultural evolution. For his dissertation project, he is trying to identify the differences between demic diffusion, cultural diffusion, and convergence as seen in the generation of highly similar stone artifacts at the assemblage level through computational modeling and experimental archaeology.

Prior to joining Emory, Cheng completed his BA at Wuhan University, China and MA at the University of Haifa, Israel, both in archaeology, during which he has been involved in multiple excavation and survey projects ranging from the Middle Paleolithic to the 20th century.


Sarah Kovalaskas

"I am a Phd candidate in Biological Anthropology with broad interests in the evolution of primate social behavior, especially as it relates to the origins of human cognition and culture.  Leveraging my past experiences in behavioral endocrinology and fieldwork in primate behavioral ecology, my dissertation research investigates the evolutionary processes and underlying mechanisms supporting cooperative group defense in wild capuchin monkeys in Guanacaste, Costa Rica at the Capuchins de Taboga field site." 

"Prior to joining the Emory Anthropology department, I received a B.A. in Anthropology and minored in Religion at Florida State University. I completed an MSc in Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology from the University of Oxford with a thesis investigating the impact of social climate on behavioral synchrony. Since 2011, I have been involved in research with humans and several different primate species including Bolivian gray-eared titi monkeys in Bolivia, bonobos in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and rhesus macaques at the Emory National Primate Research Center. When I’m not observing primates, I enjoy hiking in the north GA mountains and exploring the city via the Atlanta BeltLine."


Caius Gibeily

Caius Gibeily is a doctoral student in the Neuroscience graduate program interested in combining techniques in molecular and computational neuroscience to explore typical brain development and aging. He previously read molecular and cell biology at the University of St Andrews, UK, and completed an MSc Neuroscience at Oxford. His previous research projects have explored questions in neurodevelopment and degenerative disease, including understanding the role of VIP+ inhibitory interneuron maturation in sensory processing in barrel cortex and developing a microfluidic platform for interrogating the neuromodulatory landscape in models of Parkinson’s Disease.


Nicole Furgula

Nicole Furgala is a doctoral student in Biological Anthropology interested in the evolutionary origins of social cognition using interdisciplinary methods across anthropology and comparative cognition. Her research investigates perspective-taking and mental state attribution in capuchin monkeys by developing experimental methodologies in captive capuchins that can also be translated to the wild. This provides a multi-species comparison between tufted capuchins in captivity, and white faced capuchins at the Capuchins de Taboga field site in Costa Rica, while considering both experimental control and ecological validity. She aims to explore the evolution of Theory of Mind as it relates to distinctly human cognition, as well as the socio-ecological pressures shaping species-specific social cognition. For an additional comparative perspective, she also investigates chimpanzee social and technical development.

Prior to coming to Emory, Nicole completed her MSc in Evolutionary and Comparative Psychology from the University of St. Andrews in Scotland, where she studied species-specific play behaviors across chimpanzee and bonobo development, and completed her BAS in Zoology and Psychology from the University of Guelph, Canada.


Evan Cunningham

Evan Cunningham is a doctoral student in Biological Anthropology broadly interested in behavioral endocrinology and evolution. He is interested in how cognitive processes are influenced by socialecological and biological factors and is studying social learning in capuchin monkeys at the Capuchins de Taboga field site in Costa Rica. He is also interested in how behavioral flexibility affects species' abilities to adapt to changing anthropogenic ecologies, and what the consequences of these processes may be for biological evolution. Finally, he studies the politics of knowledge construction by looking at the cultural forces that affect how science is studied. To this end, Evan has conducted research on how same-sex sexual behavior has been studied in non-human primates over the last century.
Prior to coming to Emory, Evan received a B.A. in Human Biology from Stanford University, conducted research through Durham University on sleeping site use by chacma baboons in an anthropogenic environment in South Africa, and spent several years teaching high school and college Biology.

Mariana Bicalho Maia Correia

Mariana is a Fulbright doctoral student in Biological Anthropology interested in the evolutionary origins of complex social cognitive traits — what are the cognitive mechanisms underlying the evolution of language, how do language and sociality influence cultural transmission, and what neural correlations can be made between such behaviors? Through a comparative approach, drawing parallels between humans and nonhuman primates, Mariana hopes to investigate the evolutionary connections between social learning, language evolution and toolmaking.

Prior to joining Emory, Mariana completed her MSc in Health Sciences (concentration in Neuroscience) and her BSc and Licentiate teaching degree in Biology from the University of Brasilia, in Brazil. She has experience in the areas of Neurophysiology, Psychopharmacology and Animal Behavior, and has conducted prior research on animal models of psychiatric disorders.