What does it mean to be a good mentor?

When I mentor students, I ensure that the learning environment is one where students are comfortable enough in that they do not feel threatened, are encouraged to think aloud, and feel a sense of belonging. I treat students with courtesy and dignity, and model this in front of other students to set the climate of the lab. Building strong relationships fosters a sense of trust, and working together on research projects in which students feel a sense of belonging ultimately enhances the quality of the work. This means facilitating bonding activities outside the lab such as...

St. Patrick's Day 2021 🍀

Zoom Celebration. We make things happen, despite the pandemic.

Valentine's Day 2021 ♥️ | Chinese New Year 🐉

Zoom Celebration
Continued Celebration in our Virtual Lab in Gather Town!

Congratulations 2020 Fall Graduate

Virtual celebration with the research team army, delivery of a ~personalized lab coat~ and cake to our Fall 2020 graduate: Dominic Calkosz, who has worked with me for the past 4 years, since we both started school at Carnegie Mellon.

Congratulations 2020 Spring Graduates

Our undergraduate Research Assistants couldn't walk across the stage at graduation, but we know they’re going to change the world. Virtual celebration with the research team army, delivery of ~personalized lab coats~ and cakes to our 2020 graduates: Emery Noll and Carter Williams, who have worked with me for the past 3 1/2 years, almost the same amount of time I’ve been in graduate school.

Emery was accepted into The Master of Science in Medical Sciences Program at Boston University to start her journey en route Medical School.
Carter accepted a job as a Game Engineer at Filament Games, an industry-leading educational game developer company.

Holiday Festivities

Stocking Making!
We were banned because of the glitter... worth it
Displayed in the lab space

Carnegie Mellon Undergraduate Student Research Symposium: Meeting of the Minds - Awarded 2nd Place for Outstanding Research

Whole Team!
VR Team!
Carter presenting Methods
Dom presenting Results
Kristy presenting Future Directions


Research Assistant Autobiographies displayed in lab space

Jar Making

Here’s the system of managing 17 undergraduate students - a little friendly competition based on game theory and some good old behaviorism via Skinner:

  • +1 doubloon for completing lab tasks
  • +2 doubloons for problem-solving
  • +3 doubloons for critical thinking skills on the spot
  • -1 doubloon for being late
  • -2 doubloons for missing lab hours
  • -3 doubloons for forgetting directions or skipping lab protocol steps
Jar Making!

The Scavenger Hunt of the Century

Team Building Scavenger Hunts are fun and great ways to strengthen group trust and collaboration. It’s an inexpensive but effective way of bringing a team together, and an entertaining activity related to the university campus culture.

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Entire Team Jumping (Must Be in Mid-Air) on The Cut
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Taking a nap in a classroom
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Planking on the fence
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Human pyramid in front of the fence
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Pretending your tourists taking selfies with Walking to the Sky
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Entire team’s reflection in something other than a mirror
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Posing like trees, under a tree
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Oldest Member of the team visiting his freshmen room
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With an animal
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Picture with a policeman
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Selfie with entire team on one bench
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Getting a hug from a stranger, Hugging a stranger, Having a stranger give a teammate a piggy back ride, and Proposing to a stranger
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Spelling out CMU with your bodies on The Mall
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Posing with Dr. Mao Yisheng