The Cognitive Communication Science Lab was founded in August 2016 and is situated in the Department of Communication at the University of California, Davis. We are currently recruiting new Graduate Students and Undergraduate Research Assistants. Members are ordered according to length of lab tenure.

Richard Huskey

Principal Investigator


Richard Huskey (PhD, University of California Santa Barbara) is an associate professor in the Department of Communication and the Cognitive Science Program at the University of California Davis. Dr. Huskey is the principal investigator in the Cognitive Communication Science Lab, a researcher in the Computational Communication Research Lab, an affiliated faculty member at the Center for Mind and Brain, and an affiliated faculty member in the Designated Emphasis in Computational Social Science. He currently Chairs the International Communication Association Communication Science and Biology interest group, and is an Associate Editor at the Journal of Communication. He studies how motivation influences the attitudes people hold and the behaviors they adopt. He researches these questions using a variety of methodological techniques including: neuroimaging (fMRI, EEG), computational modeling, and lab-based experimentation.

Graduate Students

Xuanjun (Jason) Gong

Graduate Student Researcher



Jason is currently a Ph.D. student in the Department of Communication at UC Davis. He is a curious person and he is especially interested in understanding what makes people curious and how to make people avoid feeling bored. Exploring the cognitive algorithms and neuro-mechanisms of curiosity and boredom, then applying that knowledge to the media industry to address questions about media multitasking behavior and media enjoyment is one of his goals while at UC Davis. Another goal is to adopt a cute cat before graduation. 

Aliakbar (Ali) Mehdizadeh

Graduate Student Researcher

Google Scholar

Ali is a PhD student in the Department of Communication at the University of California Davis. He holds a M.Sc in Physics from Simon Fraser University concentrating on nonequlibrium statistical physics, a M.Sc in Philosophy of Science from Sharif University of Technology concentrating on moral and political philosophy, and a B.Sc in Physics from Sharif University of Technology. In parallel to his academic endeavors, He has gained experiences in the IT sector as a product manager, and people analytics researcher.

Rachael L Kee

Graduate Student Researcher


Rachael Kee is a PhD student in the Department of Communication at UC Davis. She recently graduated with a double major in Psychology and Communication, and a Master’s degree in Psychology from California Polytechnic State University, Humboldt. Rachael is particularly interested in sleep neuroscience and understanding the role media play in processes related to these issues. Connecting psychological, neurological, and communication theories to the world of sleep is one of her goals while at UC Davis.

Wenjun Liu

Visiting Scholar

Wenjun Liu is a visiting scholar in the in the Department of Communication at UC Davis. She is also a PhD student from the School of Journalism and Communication at Shanghai International Studies University (SISU). Her research focus is at the intersection of cognitive neuroscience and communication, exploring how cognitive and brain reactions influence the mechanisms of information communication and reception. Wenjun is here to enhance her crossdisciplinary skills and foster collaboration between labs at SISU and UC Davis. Beyond the lab, Wenjun is eager to immerse herself in the unique daily life experience in Davis.

Allyson Snyder

Graduate Student Researcher



Allyson is Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Communication and an M.S. candidate in the Human Development Graduate Group at the University of California Davis. She studies how children learn STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) skills from interactive media, such as virtual reality and video games. Allyson works with both community partners (SMUD Museum of Science and Curiosity, Early Childhood Lab School) and corporations (LingoKids, Newsela) to study how to best design digital technologies for learning. In her free time, Allyson arranges flowers and crochets.

Undergraduate Students

Valerie Klein

ASPIRE Scholar & Undergraduate Research Assistant

Valerie is an undergraduate student majoring in Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior. She was born and raised in the Bay Area. She has developed an interest in many aspects of neuroscience, especially concerning the physical activity the brain exhibits when undergoing various cognitive functions and its impact on behavior. Outside of academics, she loves to hang out with friends, play guitar, and cook. A couple goals she hopes to accomplish while at UC Davis are to contribute to the creation of more knowledge and to extend her learning beyond the classroom.

Sophia Sarieva

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Sophia Sarieva is a Neurobiology, Physiology & Behavior major at UC Davis with plans to go to medical school for neurosurgery post-graduating. Their involvement in the lab stems from their special interest in psychology and curiosity about the role of neural activity on behavior. Alongside being a woman in STEM, she is a member of Vision Dance Troupe, one of the dance teams at UCD. In their spare time, Sophia collects crystals, works on art/crafting projects, and makes her own earrings.

Raymond Kang

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Raymond is an undergraduate student at UC Davis majoring in Computer Science with plans to enter the IT industry or pursue a Masters degree after graduation. His passion in biology, communication, and data analytics lead him to get involved with this lab. With his computer science background, Raymond hopes to use his skills to find patterns in the real world related to neuro-biological processes. Besides academia, Raymond enjoys fitness, sports, nature, video games and lives a well balanced life.

Lab Alumni

  • Stefanie Mutialu: Stefanie completed her undergraduate degree at UC Davis in 2023.
  • McNoah Vinoya: McNoah is pursuing his PhD in Communication at Stanford University.
  • Ellie Ross: Ellie is pursuing her PhD in Communication at the University of Washington.
  • Taylor David: Taylor was an Undergraduate Research Assistant.
  • Tsepten (Teaden) Gurung: Teaden was an Undergraduate Research Assistant.
  • Shelby Wilcox: Shelby is pursuing her PhD in Communication at Michigan State University.
  • Leandro Calcagnotto: Leandro completed his MA in Communication at The Ohio State University.
  • Yue Li: Yue is pursuing her PhD in Communication at The Ohio State University.
  • Natalie Petit: Natalie was an Undergraduate Research Assistant.
  • Zoltan Roemer: Zoltan was an Undergraduate Research Assistant.
  • Jacob Spaulding-Schecter: Jacob was an Undergraduate Research Assistant.