PhD Alumni Testimonials

Here are some of the many extraordinary alumni of Johns Hopkins University’s Department of Cognitive Science PhD program, in their own words.

To see a complete list of our PhD alumni, their initial positions, and current positions, please visit our PhD Alumni Placement page.

Charley Beller, PhD 2013

  • Current Position: Natural Language Processing Analyst, IBM Watson (as of Nov. 2016)

“I really valued being part of the JHU Cognitive Science department. The training and mentoring I received were crucial to my scientific development; especially the department’s commitment to equipping students with foundational mathematical and philosophical tools. Even outside of a traditional academic research position, I find myself using that training all the time.”

Personal Profile

Adam Buchwald, PhD 2005

  • Current Position: Associate Professor, Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, New York University (as of Nov. 2016)

“The interdisciplinary training in Cognitive Science at JHU was crucial for my career as a researcher who works on developing theoretical and basic science insights and translating them into approaches to support language-based rehabilitation. In part, this is because of the very strong empirical and theoretical training I had in relating theoretical linguistics to accounts of language processing. In part, it was because of the methodological and computational toolkit that I developed in the program. But probably the most critical component was learning to see the same problem from various perspectives and to see how those perspectives relate to one another. This training has allowed me to naturally extend my research program to integrate cognitive science with pressing questions regarding communicative disorders.”

Personal Website

Jennifer Culbertson, PhD 2010

  • Current Position: Chancellor's Fellow, School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences, University of Edinburgh (as of Nov. 2016)

“Going with cognitive science rather than traditional linguistics was one of the best decisions I ever made. JHU cogsci was a wonderful place to develop as a researcher. It’s a community of people who engage deeply on an amazing range of topics, and push each other to be theoretically sophisticated and methodologically creative.”

Personal Website

Sara Finley, PhD 2008

  • Current Position: Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Pacific Lutheran University (as of Nov. 2016)

“Since my dissertation, I’ve applied my Hopkins cognitive science training in ways that I’ve never imagined. From learning novel methods, to developing innovating teaching strategies, the rigor of my graduate training has always been at the heart of everything I have done and will continue to do in my career.”

Personal Website

Simon Fischer-Baum, PhD 2011

  • Current Position: Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Rice University (as of Nov. 2016)

“Many graduate programs expose students to different research approaches and provide opportunities to collaborate with researchers across disciplinary boundaries. CogSci at Johns Hopkins taught me how to be interdisciplinary, how to be a cognitive scientist. Even though I am in a Psychology Department, it is now second nature to do research that engages linguists, neuroscientists and engineers. Because of my Hopkins education, I have developed an interdisciplinary research program that connects me to other faculty members throughout my university.”

Personal Website

Matt Goldrick, PhD 2002 Matt Goldrick

  • Current Position: Professor and Chair, Department of Linguistics, Northwestern University (as of Nov. 2016)

“My training in Cognitive Science at JHU provided me with a truly integrated training in formal and experimental methods. This has allowed me to move easily between distinct disciplinary cultures, so that I am recognized as a linguist *and* a psychologist. Being a living bridge between these fields has opened up new collaborations and areas of research that have allowed me to continually grow as a scholar.”

Personal Website

John Hale, PhD 2003

  • Current Position: Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics, Cornell University (as of Nov. 2016)

“I came out of the Hopkins program with clear sense of what cognitive science is. The program taught me how to integrate elements from artificial intelligence, generative linguistics and neuropsychology into a research program that is driven by questions about the mind. This has become my life’s work, and I’m very grateful for the training I received there!”

Personal Website

Lisa Hsin, PhD 2014

  • Current Position: Assistant Professor, Dept. of Educational Studies in Psychology, Research Methodology, & Counseling, The University of Alabama College of Education (as of Nov. 2016)

“The foundation in the study of the mind that was laid through my training at JHU has made it possible for me not only to build linguistic theory exploring novel phenomena but also to turn a passion for improving children’s education into a responsive and rigorous research program addressing language, cognition, and even social development. That as an educational researcher I regularly find myself drawing on, and teaching, skills and ideas learned in Hopkins CogSci’s labs and courses reaffirms the depth and the versatility of that training.”

Personal Website

Gaja Jarosz, PhD 2006

  • Current Position: Associate Professor, Department of Linguistics, University of Massachusetts Amherst (as of Nov. 2016)

“The Cognitive Science Department at JHU is unique in providing truly integrative training in cognitive science. Very few other programs, if any, provide rigorous formal, theoretical, and methodological training together with exposure to a breadth of cross-disciplinary approaches and perspectives, all in a cohesive community like Hopkins does. These are experiences that not only provide the diverse range of tools to pursue one’s particular interdisciplinary research program but also permanently shape and broaden one’s thinking about language and cognition more generally.”

Personal Website

Mónica López-González, PhD 2010

  • Current Position: Co-Founder and Scientific & Artistic Director, La Petite Noiseuse Productions (as of Nov. 2016)

“The PhD program here gave me the foundations to becoming the critical thinking scientist I am today. I fondly remember and appreciated above all the intense and broad coursework (from linguistics and language development to neural and vision science), the interdisciplinary projects that were theoretical and experimental, and my thesis advisor who challenged me intellectually and respected my creative adventures within and outside the field of cognition. All of this allowed me to acquire a wide-ranging vocabulary within the mind/brain sciences that I use to this day as a researcher and science communicator at the company I co-founded.”


Jared Medina, PhD 2006

  • Current Position: Assistant Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, University of Delaware (as of Nov. 2016)

“My training in the cognitive science department at Johns Hopkins was invaluable. I learned critical thinking skills, how to develop strong theoretical frameworks, and the importance of creative, rigorous thought in studying cognition. The environment at Johns Hopkins is unique, with a caring, dedicated faculty who are truly invested in developing the next generation of cognitive scientists, and a tight-knit group of graduate students and alumni who are both supportive and challenging.”

Personal Website

Teresa Schubert, PhD 2015

  • Current Position: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, Macquarie University, Sydney, Australia (as of Nov. 2016)

“The graduate training I received in the CogSci department at Hopkins gave me a strong theoretical basis for my research and an interdisciplinary perspective that I treasure. Through coursework, seminars, and research projects I acquired not only excellence in my subfield (cognitive (neuro)psychology), but also learned “the language” of linguistics, philosophy, and computational modeling. This breadth allows me to understand and connect with researchers across fields to answer broad questions about cognition.”


Michael Wolmetz, PhD 2011

  • Current Position: Senior Scientist, Research & Exploratory Development Department, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (as of Nov. 2016)

“I was very lucky to study with the JHU Cognitive Science department. As a graduate student, I found what I was looking for: a deeper understanding of the mind and brain, and preparation for a career in science. One thing that made this possible was, not just an interdisciplinary approach, but a real coalition of computation, cognition, neuroscience, and linguistics. The other thing that made it not only possible but enjoyable was the collaborative spirit between thoughtful faculty and passionate students.”

Personal Website