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New Faculty

Evelina Fedorenko pioneers in-vivo imaging and analysis in humans to study how language is generated, processed, and understood.

“Most of the work that I’ve done is trying to understand how we take an utterance and decode meaning from it.” But as she points out, language is a two-way street. While there has been much work on how language is received, processed, and understood, much less is known about how a thought becomes an expression. “Half of the time we use language, we use it to produce something. Just in the last year, we’ve started doing a lot of work on production even though it’s much, much harder to study.”

Ev is no stranger to BCS; she earned her PhD here in 2007 and remained as a postdoc and research scientist, retaining her BCS affiliation when she became an assistant professor at Harvard Medical School and an associate researcher at Mass General. She “returned” to BCS last summer, joining the faculty as Assistant Professor of Cognitive Sciences and Associate Member of the McGovern Institute; in January she was promoted to associate professor.

Image credit: Caitlin Cunningham/McGovern Institute

David Rand has gained new visibility in recent months as an expert on Covid-19 misinformation in social media, one facet of a research thrust that uses cognitive science to study human decision-making in areas such as cooperation and political preference. Rand was named last year as the Erwin H. Schell Professor and an associate professor of management science and brain and cognitive sciences in a joint appointment with MIT Sloan.

As noted in an April profile by MIT News, David also spent many years as a guitarist. “Being an academic is like being in a punk-rock band,” he says. “In both cases, you start by trying to come up with a new idea that nobody’s used before. In academia, it’s a good research idea, and in music it’s a cool riff or melody. Then you take that kernel and spend a lot of time developing it into this cohesive whole that you try to make as perfect as possible."

Image credit: M. Scott Brauer

Another familiar face in BCS, Morgan Sheng returned to the department last fall as professor of neuroscience, a position he also held from 2001–08; the years in between were spent as vice president for neuroscience at Genentech. Morgan is author of more than 200 peer-reviewed publications focused on the molecular mechanisms underlying the structure and plasticity of synapses and the molecular- cell biology of neurodegeneration. Now a core member of the Broad Institute, Morgan co-directs their Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research; he is also affiliated with the McGovern Institute and the Picower Institute.