Nora S. Newcombe

318 Weiss Hall
Telephone: 215-204-6944

Nora S. Newcombe, Ph.D, is a Professor of Psychology at Temple University. Her research centers on cognition, development, spatial thinking, memory, and STEM education. Honors include the William James Fellow Award from APS and the George Miller Award and the G. Stanley Hall Awards from APA, the Award for Distinguished Service to Psychological Science, also from APA, and the Women in Cognitive Science Mentor Award. She is a fellow of four divisions of the American Psychological Association (General, Experimental, Developmental, and Psychology of Women), of the American Psychological Society, of the Cognitive Science Society, and of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and has been a Visiting Professor at the University of Pennsylvania, Princeton, and the Wissenschaftskolleg in Berlin.

041408_Thomas_Shipley_018-200x300Thomas F. Shipley

317 Weiss Hall
Telephone: 215-204-7890

Thomas F. Shipley’s research focuses on spatial cognition and learning. He applies formal methods from previous research to understand the perceptual and cognitive processes subserving navigation and visualization. His recent work aims to support undergraduate geology education with a longer term goal of understanding the cognitive processes that are critical for spatial reasoning and thus support STEM education in general for both K-12 and undergraduate students.

Graduate Students


C. Rebekah Banerjee

Rebekah is a graduate student in the Cognition and Neuroscience department working with Dr. Thomas Shipley. She received her B.S. in Psychology and Neuroscience from the University of Maryland and her M.A. in Cognitive Science from the University of Delaware. She is interested in the role of complex causal cognition and spatial thinking in learning in the geosciences and other STEM fields.



Susan Benear

Susan is a graduate student in the Cognition and Neuroscience department working with Drs. Nora Newcombe and Ingrid Olson. Her work focuses on the development of episodic memory, particularly in early childhood. She is interested in the relationship between behavioral memory measures and structural connectivity in the brain.


Maria Brucato

Maria is a graduate student in the Cognition and Neuroscience department working with Drs. Nora Newcombe and Jason Chein. She received her B.A. in Psychology from Montclair State University in 2017. She is interested in the role of working memory and strategy use during relational reasoning in spatial problem-solving. In particular, she is interested in how individual differences in strategy or performance may be shaped over development.


Jon Ham

Jon Ham is a graduate student in the Cognition and Neuroscience department, mentored by Dr. Thomas Shipley. He received his BS in Cognitive Science from George Fox University in 2019. He is interested in how spatial processes are mediated differently by appearances, information, and imagination. He is currently working as a research assistant on projects related to geoscience and the use of novel geological technologies.



Rachel Myerrachelmyer

Rachel is a doctoral candidate in Temple University’s Cognition and Neuroscience department at Temple University. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Physics, with an Applied Mathematics minor, from Franklin & Marshall College in 2014. She currently works as a Graduate Research Assistant with Dr. Thomas Shipley. She aids in research into geoscience education by developing stimuli, running experiments, and analyzing data.


Kim Nguyen

Kim is a graduate student in the Cognition and Neuroscience department and is mentored by Dr. Nora Newcombe and Dr. Ingrid Olson. She received her B.S. in Neurobiology at the University of Texas at Austin in 2018. She is interested in the development and decline of episodic and spatial memory and using fMRI methods to link function with behavior.



Merve Tansan

Merve is a graduate student in Temple University’s Cognition and Neuroscience Department, working with Dr. Nora Newcombe. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Business from Koç University, Istanbul in 2018. As an undergraduate, she studied the relationship among individuals’ spatial language, gesture production, and cognitive abilities across various spatial tasks. Her current research interests include spatial thinking and role of spatial thinking in STEM fields.




Kathryn (Katie) Bateman 
333 Weiss Hall
Telephone: 215-204-4028 

Kathryn (Katie) Bateman is post-doctoral fellow working with Dr. Shipley on projects involving geoscience, cognitive science, and engineering focused on the future of geoscience field work. She is particularly interested in how geoscientists make sense of their environments in the field and the way in which the geoscientists use tools like drones to do so. Katie holds a B.S. in Marine Science (Rider University), an M.Ed. in Elementary Education (Holy Family University), and a Ph.D in Curriculum and Instruction – Science Education from Penn State. Her previous work has focused on school culture and educational policies, geoscience education in the middle school, and teacher learning.

Iva Brunec
322a Weiss Hall

Iva Brunec is a postdoctoral research fellow working with Dr. Nora Newcombe in collaboration with Dr. Russell Epstein. Her research focuses on understanding how people form cognitive maps and how this is reflected in their neural patterns. She is also interested in whether the ability to extract spatial maps relates to one’s understanding of structure in non-spatial domains, and whether the underlying mechanisms fully overlap. Iva completed her PhD at the University of Toronto, where she studied hippocampal representations during spatial navigation and the role of boundaries in segmenting our experience.

Elliott Johnson

Elliott Johnson is a postdoctoral research fellow working with Dr. Nora Newcombe in collaboration with Dr. Ingrid Olson. His research focuses on examining the development of learning and memory abilities in children using both behavioral and neuroimaging methods. So far, he has primarily examined how hippocampal structure and function supports episodic memory abilities in very young children, but has recently expanded this approach to the examination of the overlap between memory and word learning. He has additionally dabbled in metamemory, and in the continuing development of episodic memory through adolescence. Elliott completed his PhD in Human Development at the University of California, Davis.


Visiting Scholars

Cristina Wilson
315 Weiss Hall
Telephone: 215-204-4027

Cristina G. Wilson, PhD, is a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, and a visiting scholar in the cognition and neuroscience program at Temple University. Visit her lab website for more information:


Sabrina Karjack
Laboratory Coordinator

After earning three Associate’s degrees from West Valley College, Sabrina earned her B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles. While at UCLA, she worked with the Bjork Learning and Forgetting Lab, as well as the Zili Perceptual Processing and Computational Lab. She is interested in cognitive developmental psychology, specifically memory and language.




Interested in studying spatial cognition, join us!

Diversity Statement:

The Research in Spatial Cognition lab is dedicated to creating a lab culture and research operations that welcome and celebrate diversity of all kinds. We are committed to fostering an inclusive and integrated environment for all students and participants, aiming to support those from marginalized and underrepresented backgrounds and identities, including race, ethnicity, religion, sexual orientation, gender identification, ability, socioeconomic status, immigration status, and more. We encourage applicants of all identities to apply for volunteer and graduate student positions, as we strive to uphold a welcoming and supportive community for all students.

To learn more about diversity at Temple, visit our institutional diversity website: