Cognitive Science Faculty 

(Members of 2015/16 Cognitive Science Steering Committee donoted with *, Members of 2015/16 Undergraduate Curriculum Committee denoted with +)

Paul Tupper (Mathematics) Professor, Director, Cognitive Science Program
Molecular dynamics, phase field models, phylogenetics, statistical mechanics, stochastic differential equations, mathematical modelling in linguistics.

Paul Tupper is a mathematician who is deeply interested in working on problems in cognitive science. He has two main areas of interest within cognitive science. Firstly he is interested in phonology, the study of the functional organization of the sounds of human languages.  With SFU linguist John Alderete he maintains a program of mathematical modelling in phonology, as well as analyzing the models of other researchers. His other main collaboration is with Mark Blair of SFU's Cognitive Science Lab, where he works with Blair on modelling the behaviour of experimental subjects using Dynamic Field Theory and other paradigms of computational psychology.

Mark Blair (Cognitive Science) Associate Professor, Cognitive Science Program  * +
Concept acquisition, perceptual learning and selective attention using both experimental methods and computational modelling. The development of expertise in adults and children.
Burnaby Campus:  RCB 8301
Phone:  (604)562-4963 and Fax:  (778)782-3427


Mark Blair's research program is aimed toward understanding learning and expertise, particularly with respect to the allocation of attention. I use experimental and computational approaches to understand the relevant human cognitive processes. Experimentally, I use eye-tracking to measure participants allocation of attention to available sources of information during and after training, and in response to various manipulations to the task. Computationally, I build models to simulate these processes, capturing how behaviour unfolds in time within a single decision and across a whole training scenario. I have used standard feed forward artificial neural networks, reinforcement learning models, and dynamic field theory models to simulate human cognition. Another aspect of my research looks at how learning unfolds over course of hundreds, or thousands of hours. In this line of research, I am investigating expertise in the real-time strategy game StarCraft 2. Having gathered thousands of games from players across the full spectrum of expertise - from novice to professional, I am looking at how important predictors of expertise, and how these predictors change across training time. This is the largest study ever conducted on either videogames or expertise. Future studies will investigate longitudinal data, and group coordination data from team games.

Nancy Hedberg (Linguistics/Cognitive Science) Professor   * + (Chair, Department of Linguistics)

Computational linguistics and cognitive science; syntax and semantics.
Burnaby Campus: RCB 9101
Phone:  (778)782-3479

Nancy Hedberg teaches syntax, semantics, pragmatics and cognitive science. Her research is in the field of Linguistics but is situated with the larger field of Cognitive Science. She works in the area of discourse semantics and pragmatics and uses corpus linguistics methods to study the way different types of linguistic expressions are used in spoken language. Her current research focuses on parenthetical verb phrases like ‘I believe’ or ‘I guess’.  These seem to be prosodically phrased with the material in their semantic scope:

(i)  The 9/11 terrorists, they all had fake drivers licenses from I believe Florida.

Here the idea that the terrorists had fake drivers licenses is presented as a fact, but the idea that the licenses were from Florida is presented only as a belief. The observation that the assertive force of an utterance can change midstream is an intriguing one and has implications for the linguistic and philosophical study of utterance meaning.

She is also collaborating on a project studying the use of multimodal (speech together with gesture) pointing acts to items on the screen in TED talk videos.  Finally, she is learning to use experimental methods through collaborations in the Experimental Syntax Lab (e.g. why do people produce ‘resumptive pronouns’ in sentences like “He’s a man who you need to know him to like him” but reject them as ungrammatical when they hear them?) and in the Language and Brain Lab (e.g. how does tone language experience influence musical ability?).

Cognitive Science Lecturers and Sessionals

Jeremy Turner (Cognitive Science) Sessional Instructor - COGS 100 Surrey & Harbour Centre FALL 2018

Cognitive Science Associate Member Faculty

Kathleen Akins (Philosophy) * +
Philosophy of mind, philosophy of perception, philosophy of the cognitive sciences, self-described as "Theoretical Neuroscience"; present work on colour synaesthesia.
Burnaby Campus: WMX 4614
Phone:  (778)782-3328

Kathleen Akins is a professor who works in both philosophy and the neurosciences. She tries to use the resources of both disciplines, experimental and theoretical to address puzzling questions—some very old, some quite new—about the nature of the human mind. This has lead Kathleen branch out from her primary expertise in mammalian visual processing, with forays into diverse areas: echolocation in bats, the sensory modalities of marine invertebrates, the neurophysiology and psychophysics of colour vision, the representation of one’s own body, neonatal imitation, and multimodal processing, among others. Most recently, Kathleen lead the world’s largest survey on the prevalence and nature of synaesthesia, the only cross-linguistic one to date, in order to explore the role of learning in the developmental synaesthesia. At bottom, however, one question motivates almost all of her research: What is the nature of mental/neural representation? How do we do what we do — walk the seawall, play tennis, cook a meal, plan a party—and what kinds of neural events do these highly diverse activities require?

John Alderete (Linguistics)

Morphology; phonology; computational linguistics; cognitive science.
Burnaby Campus: RCB 8315

John Alderete is a linguist who uses methods from psycholinguistics and computational psychology to examine how complex linguistic systems are learned. Understanding the complexity of language involves breaking it down into distinct domains, like sentence structure, meaning, and sound structure. One goal of Alderete’s research is to formulate explicitly the unconscious rules or patterns we know when we know language in these domains, an endeavor that involves first-hand field research on Athabaskan and Austronesian languages. Another goal is to understand how a child comes to possess rules of language, and what types of computational algorithms support learning of these unconscious rules and patterns. Members of his lab engage in theoretical analysis of language, linguistic fieldwork and experimentation, and computational modeling of learning. They use this research experience as a stepping stone to PhD programs in linguistics and cognitive science.

Holly Andersen (Philosophy)
Causal explanation; awareness and agency; neural mechanisms of temporal representation.
Burnaby Campus: WMX 4610
Phone:  (778)782-4851

Holly Andersen (PhD 2009, University of Pittsburgh) is a philosopher of science. Much of her recent work focuses on issues related to causation and causal methodology, ranging from metaphysics of causation to application issues of causal ideas within philosophy of mind and cognitive science. She also works on temporal consciousness and agency, and on explanation.

Endre Begby (Philosophy)
Philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, political philosophy, metaphysics and epistemology, history of philosophy.
Burnaby Campus

My primary research focus is on the cognitive and communicative dimensions of language. In particular, I am interested in how various aspects of linguistic knowledge is structured in the mind, and how speakers draw on this knowledge in real-time communication. My approach to these issues is quite eclectic, and I generally look for evidence wherever I can find it: for instance, one strand of research that has occupied me a lot recently looks at spontaneous gesture systems devised by deaf children who grow up without exposure to sign language. Other areas of research interest includes perception (specifically high-level perception and the perception-cognition interface) as well as the psychology and epistemology of stereotyping and prejudice.

Elina Birmingham (Education)
Social attention, eye tracking, scene viewing, face perception, autism spectrum disorders.
Burnaby Campus, DAC 007

Elina Birmingham is Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Education at SFU, and director of the Social Attention Research Group (SARG). Her research examines how children, adolescents, and adults attend to and interpret social information. In addition, she examines how mechanisms of social attention and perception operate differently in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). Her research uses a variety of methodologies, from behavioural measures of face perception, eye tracking studies of scene perception, to observations of social interactions in the real world. A central goal is to determine the role of mechanisms of attention and perception in the development of real world social competence. Her research is funded by Natural Science and Engineering Research Council (NSERC) and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC) of Canada.

Jim P. Delgrande (Computing Science)

Formal aspects of knowledge representation.
Burnaby Campus: TASC 9015
Phone:  (778)782-4335

James Delgrande's research interests centre on formal aspects of Knowledge Representation in Artificial Intelligence.  The overall objective of this work is the development of logical formalisms for representing and reasoning about commonsense knowledge, and the implementation of such formalisms. The primary foci of his research include belief change, reasoning about action and change, defeasible (or nonmonotonic) reasoning, and reasoning
with and about preferences.  He is currently a member of the Advisory Board for the Principles of Knowledge Representation and Reasoning Conference, as well as being an Associate Editor of the Journal of Artificial Intelligence Research, and on the editorial
board of the Journal of Philosophical Logic.

Steve DiPaola (Interactive Arts and Technology)
Computer graphics and simulation; artificial intelligence; modeling
facial, character, expression, emotion and creativity systems

Steve DiPaola directs iVizLab, a research lab that strives to make computational systems bend more to the human experience by incorporating biological, cognitive and behavior knowledge models.  Much of the labs work is creating computation models of expression, emotion, behavior and creativity. He is most known for his AI based computational creativity ( and 3D facial expression systems. He came to SFU from Stanford Univ. and before that NYIT Computer Graphics Lab, an early pioneering lab in high-end graphics. He has held leadership positions at Electronic Arts, Saatchi Innovation and consulted for HP, and the Institute for the Future. His computer based art has been exhibited internationally including NYC’s AIR and Tibor de Nagy galleries, Whitney Museum, MIT Museum, Cambridge Univ’s Kings Art Centre and the Smithsonian. His science work has been published in over 50 peer reviewed publications and showcased in the journal

Ashley Farris-Trimble (Linguistics)
Laboratory phonology; theoretical phonology; first language acquisition; disordered phonology; psycholinguistics
Burnaby Campus:  RCB 9222

Dr. Farris-Trimble's research interests include the role of phonological knowledge in speech processing, first-language phonological acquisition, and weighted-constraint-based theories of phonology.  She uses eye-tracking in the visual world paradigm as a real-time measure of speech processing and word recognition.  She is also interested in phonological theory as it relates to the phonologies of clinical populations, especially children with phonological delay and individuals with cochlear implants.  During her NIH Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Iowa, she studied online processing and word recognition in cochlear implant users.  She directs the Phonological Processing Lab.

Brian Fisher (Interactive Arts and Technology)

Visual analytics.
Surrey Campus: Podium 2, Room 2790
Phone:  (778)782-7554

Brian Fisher is Associate Professor of Interactive Arts and Technology and Cognitive Science at Simon Fraser University (SFU) and Associate Director of the Media and Graphics Interdisciplinary Centre at the University of British Columbia (UBC). His research is in the emerging field of visual analytics - "the science of analytical reasoning facilitated by interactive visual interfaces". He describes VA as a translational science that integrates field studies of human understanding of information in real-world situations, laboratory investigation of human-computer “mixed-initiative” cognitive systems, and the design and evaluation of technologies, curricula, and organizational structures that more effectively augment human cognitive abilities.  Describing himself as a 'cyber-psychologist', Brian studies how people construct an understanding of a situations, solve problems and coordinate actions based upon interaction with dynamic visual displays such as those used in air traffic control systems, scientific visualization, and emergency operations management. The cognitive ramifications of those artificial visual worlds are significant, Fisher's research has shown. For example, his work on the visual system has revealed that people can track multiple moving targets as effectively during a "fly-through" of a virtual world as they can on a static display. Fisher's research funded by the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council of Canada and the US Department of Homeland Security Command, Control and Interoperability Center of Excellence (VACCINE) for applications in disaster preparedness and response, by Health Canada for work on injury prevention in children, and by the Boeing Company for work on aircraft safety, reliability, and maintainability.

Tracey Leacock (Faculty of Education)    +

Cognition, collaboration and pedagogy in the eLearning environment,
faculty development and workflow in eLearning organizations.
Burnaby Campus: EDB 8675.1
Phone:  (778)782-3483

Tracey Leacock's primary research interest is investigating how (technology-mediated) writing contributes to learning. For example how do teaching methods such as asynchronous online discussions affect students’ ability to evaluate their learning and adapt their studying? This work spans the fields of educational technology, self-regulated learning, decision making, cognitive psychology, and academic literacy. An important consideration in this work is how to support faculty in new ways of teaching, which, in turn should result in better learning. She also works with the eLearning Research and Assessment Network (eLera) studying issues of quality in digital learning resources and is a co-developer of the Learning Object Review Instrument (LORI), which has been translated into several languages for international use.

John Nesbit (Faculty of Education)
Learning through multimedia and cognitive tools and argumentation, from concept maps and argument maps, and analysis of activity logs and eye-movements.
Burnaby Campus: EDB 8560.4
Phone:  (778)782-7123

John Nesbit is an educational psychologist who investigates self-regulated learning through multimedia and argumentation. Recent research by Nesbit and his colleagues has examined whether we learn effectively from animated concept maps, whether simultaneous presentation of redundant spoken and written information helps or hinders learning, whether students' motivational predispositions predict the studying strategies recorded as they use studying software, and whether studying argument maps promotes conceptual change. The common goal of Nesbit’s research is generating theory and methods that inform the creation of adaptive systems supporting self-regulated learning for all. The research methods used in Nesbit's research include meta-analysis, eye-tracking, data mining of logs recorded as students interact with software, and treatment delivery through automated chat bots. His research has been published in journals such asInstructional Science, Journal of Educational Psychology, Review of Educational Research, Learning and Individual Differences, Annual Review of Psychology, and Educational and Psychological Measurement.

Phillipe Pasquier (School of Interactive Arts and Technology)
Creative artificial intelligence, computational creativity, affective computing, music perception and cognition, cognitive modeling, embodied cognition.


Philippe Pasquier is a scientist specialized in artificial intelligence, a multidisciplinary artist, an educator, and a community builder. His contributions range from theoretical research in multi-agent systems, computational creativity, creative AI and machine learning, to applied artistic research and practice in digital art, computer music, and generative art. Philippe is an associate professor in Simon Fraser University School for Interactive Arts and Technology, in Vancouver, where he directs the Metacreation Lab for Creative AI.

Philippe's artistic work has been shown in prominent venues on all five continents, including at Ars Electronica (Austria), Les Bains Numériques (France), Centre Pompidou (France), Earzoom festival (Slovenia), GMEA (France), IRCAM (France), ISEA2012 (Turkey), ISEA2014 (Dubai), ISEA2016 (Honk Kong), ISEA2017 (Columbia), Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal (Canada), Mutek Festival (Canada), Plus One Gallery (USA), Space One (Korea), Sydney Biennale (Australia), Vooruit (Belgium), and ZKM (Germany), ICST (Switzerland).

Philippe was founding chair and investigator of the International Workshop on Musical Metacreation (MUME), the MUME concerts series, the International ACM Conference on Movement and Computation (MOCO), and was the director of the Vancouver edition of the International Symposium on Electronic Arts (ISEA2015). He has co-authored over 150 peer-reviewed contributions presented in the most rigorous scientific venues.

Philippe's projects have gained support and recognition from more than 20 scientific or cultural institutions including the Canadian Council for the Arts (CCA), the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC), the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada (SSHRC) the French Ministère de la Culture et de la Communication, the European Community, the Australian Research Council and the Australian Council for the Arts.

Fred Popowich (Computing Science)   * +
Computational linguistics and intelligent systems.
Burnaby Campus: TASC 9423
Phone:  (778)782-4193

Fred Popowich's research covers all four corners of cognitive science at SFU: computing science, linguistics, psychology, and philosophy. He works on AI systems that can process, reproduce and recognize various aspects of human language.  Such systems draw heavily from themes in linguistics and philosophy, and test current theories of speech perception as they become implemented on computers.  Some of those data structures have been used in advances in artificial intelligence and also have high psychological plausibility - a rich example of the interplay between human and technological research that defines cognitive science.  Popowich's systems have been used in computer translation software, interactive voice response systems, and web Q&A engines.

Bernhard Riecke (School of Interactive Arts and Technology)
Uses immersive virtual environments to study human embodied spatial perception, cognition, and behaviour.

Bernhard Riecke is a psycho-physicist and Cognitive Scientist who's excited about studying how humans orient in virtual and real environments.
What con­sti­tutes effec­tive, robust, and intu­itive human spa­tial ori­en­ta­tion and behav­iour? Although Virtual Reality and Computer Graphics provide ever-increasing com­pu­ta­tional power and ren­der­ing qual­ity, we hardly ever have the compelling and embodied sensation of "being there" and moving through these computer-mediated environments. What's missing? What can we learn from this? How can we employ fundamental research to “cheat intel­li­gently” and enable natural and unencumbered perception and behavior in Virtual Reality with­out the need for full phys­i­cal loco­mo­tion? How far can we get with just visual cues? What ben­e­fits do we gain from multi-modal stimuli? His iSpace team uses an trans-disciplinary mixed-methods approach to investigate these issues.

Kate Slaney (Psychology)

Studies in Methodology and Philosophy of Psychological Science Lab

Examination of psychological research practices; history and philosophy of psychological science; psychological concepts
Burnaby Campus: RCB 6239

Kate Slaney’s research bridges three general areas of inquiry: examination of psychological research practices, philosophy/history of science, and conceptual analysis of psychological concepts. Broadly, her program of research involves the empirical examination of the theoretical and methodological practices of researchers in psychology and related sciences both currently and in the past. This research is concerned primarily with assessing psychological researchers’ conceptualizations of methodological concepts and employments of methodological tools, and explicating the philosophical underpinnings of the methodological paradigms that have dominated in psychological science (e.g., construct validity theory, null hypothesis statistical inference) and demonstrating how such commitments shape both theory and practice. Her research also involves philosophical analysis of psychological concepts and conceptual schemes that feature in theoretical and applied psychology and cognitive science.

The overriding aim of Dr. Slaney’s research is to gain a fully informed understanding of what researchers in the cognitive sciences do and why they do it. This requires that the history/philosophy of science context, the dominant theoretical and methodological imperatives at work, and the extent to which researchers’ practices do or do not reflect these, all be thoroughly examined and the results integrated. In this respect, the different research topics she pursues are united towards a common goal of understanding the cognitive science researcher.

Maite Taboada (Linguistics)

Discourse analysis; computational linguistics.
Burnaby Campus: RCB 8206
Phone:  (778)782-5585

Maite Taboada’s work aims at understanding what the mechanisms for coherence are in human discourse. In earlier work, she focused on how discourse can be coherent through belonging to a particular genre or register of discourse, and how participants work together to weave a coherent piece of discourse. In more recent work, she has studied two different mechanisms that she considers are the two sides of the coherence coin: entity-based coherence and relational coherence. The former refers to the relations established among entities or referents in the text (i.e., anaphoric relations, such as the relationship between a pronoun and its antecedent), whereas the latter is conveyed through relations among propositions in the text (e.g., elaboration, summary, contrast, condition, cause). Her approach is to examine both in detail, integrating them in a unified theory of discourse, and with special emphasis on how they interact with different genres of discourse. Her methodology is two-fold, using corpus and computational approaches. Ongoing research addresses the study of opinion and sentiment in text, including a system that extracts sentiment automatically. Other current areas of research are coherence in multimodal documents, and the study of cataphoric relations. Find her website here.

Yue Wang (Linguistics)
Experimental phonetics, neurolinguisitcs, psycholinguistics, and second language acquisition. She directs the Language and Brain Lab.
Burnaby Campus: RCB 9213
Phones:  (778)782-6924, (778)782-6957 (Lab)

The central theme of Yue Wang's Language and Brain Lab is how higher cognitive abilities - like language, music, and mathematics - integrate and interconnect in the brain.Wang was trained as a phonetician and became interested in how hearing the sounds of language affects the brain.  She currently studies second-language learning in adults, combining neuroimaging methods and behavioural training.  For example, she has trained adults on the tonal sounds of another language and then measured with precision how their increased perceptual ability is implemented in the brain.  Her lab is equipped with a new EEG system and she is affiliated with fMRI research labs in other parts of the world. Members of her lab have gone on to positions in language teaching, speech therapy, and audiology.

Phil Winne (Education)  *

Educational psychology; metacognition and self-regulated learning; 
software tools that promote learning.
Burnaby Campus: EDB 8679
Phone:  (778)782-4858

Phil Winne investigates how learners research their learning to improve it, technically called self-regulated learning. His research is rooted in a view that learners are agents who control a host of factors that shape learning environments as well as the kind of learner a person becomes. Phil leads a team that is (apparently constantly) developing software, called nStudy. nStudy provides tools for studying multimedia content online and unobtrusively gathers detailed, time-stamped data about what learners study and studying tactics they build and adapt. Currently, he is investigating how to provide feedback to learners that fuses visualizations of their studying activities (process feedback) with information they studied. His ultimate goal is to freely distribute quasi-intelligent software that helps learners everywhere continuously improve learning skills as they effortlessly generate data vital for advancing learning science. Phil was a 2-term Canada Research Chair in the Faculty of Education. He is a Fellow of four scholarly associations and has published more than 180 published scholarly works. In 2007, he received the Robbie Case Memorial Award “for outstanding contributions to educational psychology in Canada, and in 2016 the Barry J. Zimmerman Award for “exceptional theoretical and empirical scholarship” in research on studying and self-regulated learning.

Henny Yeung (Linguistics)
First and second language acquisition; psycholinguistics; phonetics/phonology
Burnaby Campus:  RCB 8121

Henny Yeung’s research asks how learning a language changes sensory perception and human cognition.  Research in his lab relies primarily on experimental psycholinguistic methods to study language learners in different age groups:  infancy, childhood, and also in adulthood.  One line of work investigates the rich context of language input, asking how visual, haptic, and auditory cues available in most linguistic interactions help learners acquire phonetic and phonological patterns.  A second line of work explores links between speech and music perception, and third line of work asks how learning to produce speech affects the perception of speech in language learners.  A primary objective of his research is to understand how language learning can be facilitated in in cases where language input is impoverished or of low quality.

Cognitive Science Adjunct Member Faculty 

Luc P. Beaudoin (Education)
Cognitive productivity
Burnaby Campus:  EDB 7505
Phone:  (778)997-0612

Luc P. Beaudoin is Adjunct Professor at SFU's Faculty of Education. His Cognitive Productivity Research Project focuses on adult learning with technology. He extends and applies broad (affective) cognitive science. He has developed a new theoretical framework and psychotherapeutic application for sleep onset and insomnia. He is the author of Cognitive Productivity.  He is president of CogSci Apps Corp. and CogZest, two B.C. businesses that apply cognitive science. He led software development teams on the Learning Kit project at SFU and at Abatis Systems. He has a Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from the University of Birmingham (England), being a former student of Aaron Sloman.

Emeriti Cognitive Science Associate Member Faculty 

F. Jeffry Pelletier, Emeritus (Philosophy and Linguistics)

Formal semantics; logic and language; cognitive science; Ancient Greek philosophy; automated theorem proving; artificial intelligence.

Before moving to SFU in 2004 to become the Canada Research Chair in Cognitive Science, he was a joint professor in the departments of Philosophy and of Computing Science at the University of Alberta. He had also been an Executive Editor of the Canadian Journal of Philosophy, and of Linguistics and Philosophy. When he came to SFU, he was appointed jointly as professor in the Philosophy and the Linguistics departments; and the CRC appointment allowed him (together with Mark Blair) to build the current Cognitive Science Laboratory. Pelletier retired from SFU in 2009, and returned to the University of Alberta's Philosophy Department, where he is a long-term visiting professor. He continues to write in his main areas of research: the relation between natural language and formal systems of representation, the interplay of semantic information and pragmatic/contextual features of a discourse, computerized logic theorem proving, and the history of logic, philosophy and linguistics. He was elected as a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada in 2009.

Veronica Dahl, Emeritus (Computing Science)

Logic programming; computational linguistics; deductive knowledge bases.

Veronica Dahl's research interests are logic programming, logic grammars, computational liguistics, constraint solving, deductive knowledge bases and computational molecular biology. Among her many achievements, she developed a high-impact methodology for DNA bar-code discovery with André Levesque, W. Chen and M. Zahariev, and applied it to plant pathology identification from signature oligos. This reduced what used to be a six month-person effort in Agriculture and AgriFood Canada to an average of 20 minutes of computing. She also pioneered the use of Prolog for deductive knowledge bases and, along with Paul Tarau, developed high level methodologies for endowing the internet with intelligent communication capabilities, e.g. multilingual access to virtual worlds over the internet. Veronica Dahl has distinguished herself for developing the field of automatic knowledge base abduction from text and influencing the work of many other researchers, as evidenced in her work being applied in contemporary software as well as being referenced in prestigious journals, such as the Journal of Computational Linguistics, the Theory and Practice of Logic Programming Journal.

Robert F. Hadley, Emeritus (Computing Science)

Cognition; connectionism; reasoning.