IBCSR Research Assistants

Current Research Assistants

Lauren Hickey

Lauren Hickey

Research assistant, 2013-2016

Lauren is an MDiv candidate at Boston University School of Theology, with a prior background in international affairs. Her research interests include psychological anthropology in studying religious experience, as well as meditation and states of consciousness. She is currently working with Dr. Wesley Wildman on the Dimensions of Spirituality Project.

Dustin Clark

Dustin Clark

Research assistant, 2014-2016

Dustin is a full-time Neuroimaging Analyst at the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital in Jamaica Plain, Massachusetts working on the Neuroscience and Religious Cognition Project. He earned his M.S. in Biomedical Engineering from Boston University focusing on computational methods in neuroscience after researching the physiology of personality and the neuroscience of emotion and attention at University of Florida. His research interests include the physiological maintenance of empathy and theory of mind as well as cortical modulatory effect of psychotherapies and the therapeutic alliance.

Karishma Smart

Karishma Smart

Research assistant, 2014-2016

Karishma is a Boston University graduate student pursuing a MS in Medical Sciences. She is working on the Neuroscience and Religious Cognition project. Her current research interests include cognition in Parkinson's disease. She hopes to pursue a career in clinical neuroscience research.

Chisom Chukwumerije

Chisom Chukwumerije

Student Intern, 2015-2016

Chisom is a Boston University student studying Psychology and Biology. She is contributing towards a study on dreams.

Victoria Pae

Victoria Pae

Student Intern, 2015-2016

Victoria is a Boston University undergraduate student working part-time on the Religious and Cognition Project. Currently, she is playing an integral role in the research for a study on dreams.

Adonai Sebastian

Adonai Sebastian

Student Intern, 2015-2016

Adonai is a Boston University undergraduate studying Neuroscience working on dreams and Parkinson's projects.

Former Research Assistants

Colleen Wong

Colleen Wong

Research assistant, 2013-2014

Colleen is an undergraduate pursuing a major in neuroscience and a minor in religious studies at Boston University. Her research interests include understanding the role of agency in mental health issues; the ways in which human beings cultivate resilience;  and global peace and conflict studies. She hopes to pursue a career in cross-cultural psychiatry. Colleen can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Ari Fodeman

Ari Fodeman

Research assistant, 2013-2014

Ari Fodeman is a graduate (Spring, 2014) from American Univeristy in Washington, D.C. with a major in Psychology and a second interdisciplinary major in "Ideology, Worldivews and Experimental Epistemology." He is a research assistant at both Dr. McNamara's Neuroscience and Religious Cognition Lab and Dr. Doan's Advanced Cultural and Emotional Intelligence Lab. His primary research interests concern interdisciplinary methods, extreme ideologies, radicalization, and conflict management. He plans to pursue a career in conflict research and management. Ari can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Clarinda Blais

Clarinda Blais

Research assistant, 2014-2015

Clarinda is a Boston University undergraduate in philosophy, religion, and journalism working on the Neuroscience and Religious Cognition project.

Amenechi Chioma

Amenechi Chioma

Research assistant, 2014-2015

Amenechi is a Boston University undergraduate in neuroscience working on the Neuroscience and Religious Cognition project.

Alina Gusev

Alina Gusev

Research assistant, 2014-2015

Alina is working part-time on the Neuroscience and Religious Cognition project.

Michelle Potter

Michelle Potter

Student Intern, 2014-2015

Michelle is a Simmons College undergraduate working on the Neuroscience and Religious Cognition project.

Allison Richards

Allison Richards

Student Intern, 2014-2015

Allison is a Simmons College undergraduate working on the Neuroscience and Religious Cognition project.

Lindamood Fellows Program

Background to the Fellows Program

Young researchers working on IBCSR projects are vital to the future of the scientific study of religion. Their skill set embraces multiple disciplines. They combine the precision of the scientist with the complex awareness of the artist. And they learn to collaborate from the start.

Training students in the IBCSR way produces multi-competent researchers with unusual vision. They pull together ideas and information in novel ways. Insert a seasoned researcher trained with such skills into a room of specialized experts, and the entire group instantly operates more efficiently.

To support such training, IBCSR founded the Lindamood Fellows Program in 2010, with the generous support of the Doug and Gay Lane Foundation and the Lakeside Foundation.

Lindamood Fellows will complete doctoral degrees at affiliated universities while conducting research on projects run through IBCSR. They will receive hands-on experience and valuable training from experts in multiple fields. And they will emerge from their Fellowship ready to make a difference.

Samuel Lindamood

lindamoodThis Fellows Program is named in honor of the Rev. Samuel Johnson Lindamood, Jr. A mentor to one of IBCSR’s founders, he died in 1997, leaving a legacy of influence on generations of individuals. The program is launched with the support of his widow, Ann Lindamood Fischer.

Sam Lindamood was a remarkable man. A pastor and preacher of rare quality, he intuitively grasped the ambiguity of religion. He worked tirelessly to make the benefits of religion real for those he served while carefully resisting its negative aspects. He stood for tolerance and inclusiveness and against bigotry and fanaticism. He was always realistic, always told the truth, and was a superb mentor.

The Lindamood Fellows Program embodies these values and IBCSR is proud to be associated with Sam Lindamood’s legacy through this initiative.

Inaugural Lindamood Fellows, 2010-2011

The first recipients of Lindamood Fellowships are introduced below. More information about each recipient can be found on the IBCSR Personnel page.

Joel Daniels: a PhD student at Boston University, Joel is studying how scientific knowledge about human beings impacts religious beliefs about the meaning of human life. He is Editor of the IBCSR Research Review.

Connor Wood: a PhD student at Boston University, Connor is investigating the biological underpinnings of the healing effects of some meditation practices. Connor is also working on the Spectrums Project.

Nicholas DiDonato: a PhD student at Boston University, Nicholas is working with Connor on the Spectrums Project, a research effort focusing on ideological, moral, and religious spectrums of beliefs and attitudes, identifying the biological and contextual conditions, and determining how they affect teaching, learning, and public discourse.

Patrick McNamara

Patrick McNamara

FOUNDING DIRECTOR

Neuroscientist Patrick McNamara has worked for some years on Parkinson's Disease and conducted research on sleep and dreams. He is involved in a number of research projects having to do with the scientific study of religion (see the Institute Activities pages for details). His landmark three-volume collection of essays on the scientific study of religion is well known: Where God and Science Meet. More information about Patrick is available here.

Wesley J. Wildman

Wesley J. Wildman

FOUNDING DIRECTOR AND EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR

Philosopher and theologian Wesley Wildman has worked on many aspects of science and religion. He is particularly interested in what light can be shed on religious behaviors, beliefs, and experiences from the biological and human sciences. Director of Boston University's innovative humanities-science doctoral program in Religion and Science, he is deeply committed to multidisciplinary research and training. More information about Wesley is available here.

Robert C. Neville

Robert C. Neville

DIRECTOR AND PROGRAM OFFICER

Robert Cummings Neville writes and teaches in the fields of philosophy, religious studies, and systematic theology. He was dean of the Boston University School of Theology from 1988 to 2003. Then he was dean of Marsh Chapel at Boston University from 2003 to 2006. He was executive director of the Danielsen Institute from 2005 to 2009. He has also taught at Yale University, Fordham University, Wesleyan University (part-time), SUNY Purchase, and SUNY Stony Brook. More information about Bob is available here.

Current Research Associates

Richard Sosis

Richard Sosis

SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2008-2017

Anthropologist Dr. Richard Sosis is well known for his research on cooperation. He is particularly interested in identifying the evolutionary conditions for the emergence of cooperation within the ecology of human behavior. Recently he has focused his research efforts on the complex relationship among religion, cooperation, and trust. More information about Rich is available here.

F. LeRon Shults

F. LeRon Shults

SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2011-2018

Dr. F. LeRon Shults is Professor of Theology and Philosophy in the Institute for Religion, Philosophy and History at the University of Agder, Kristiansand, Norway. His many books and articles address religion and human life in the context of the contemporary human and physical sciences. He is working with the institute on extending the networks supporting the biocultural study of religion in a variety of research areas, including secularism, naturalism, compassion, and political and religious ideology. More information about LeRon is available here.

Catherine Caldwell-Harris

Catherine Caldwell-Harris

SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2011-2017

Catherine Caldwell-Harris, Associate Professor of Psychology at Boston University, has conducted research in several areas within the cognitive and behavioral sciences, including psycholinguistics, cross-cultural psychology and individual differences. She notes that everyday observations as well as research suggest that causes of individual differences in religious belief are a complex outcome of genetic temperamental predispositions, family upbringing, societal values, and idiosyncratic life experiences. In one of Dr. Caldwell-Harris' studies, atheists reported finding as much meaning in life as did religious persons, but they eschewed terms related to supernaturalism (like 'spiritual'), and focused their moral concerns on the pragmatic here-and-now. Dr. Caldwell-Harris has also studied low religious belief in individuals with Asperger Syndrome. Dr. Caldwell-Harris is developing a new project to study religious doubt in Turkey, a country where she has long conducted research on topics including bilngualism and individualism-collectivism.

Saikou Y. Diallo

Saikou Y. Diallo

RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2013-2018

Dr. Diallo is a Research Assistant Professor at the Virginia Modeling Analysis and Simulation Center (VMASC) of the Old Dominion University. He received his M.S. in Modeling & Simulation (2006) and his Ph.D. in M&S (2010) from ODU. His research focuses on the theory of interoperability as it relates to Model-based Data Engineering and Web Services for M&S applications. Dr. Diallo has authored or co-authored over fifty publications including a number of awarded papers and articles in conferences, journals and book chapters. He participates in a number of Modeling and Simulation related organizations and conferences and is currently the co-chair of the Coalition Battle Management Language drafting group, an M&S IEEE standard development group. Dr. Diallo works with IBCSR on the Simulating Religion Project.

Megan K. DeFranza

Megan K. DeFranza

RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2014-2017

Megan DeFranza (PhD, Marquette University) is a Christian theologian working in theological anthropology, sex, gender, and sexuality. Her first book is Sex Difference in Christian Theology: Male, Female, and Intersex in the Image of God (Eerdmans 2015). She has also collaborated with Susannah Cornwall (Univ. of Exeter, UK) et al. on Intersex, Theology, and the Bible: Troubling Bodies in Church, Text, and Society (Palgrave MacMillan) and contributed to Evangelical Postcolonial Conversations (IVP). She is working with Dr. Wesley Wildman and Dr. Patrick McNamara and a number of doctoral students on the Institute's Sex Differences and Religion project.

Luke J. Matthews

Luke J. Matthews

RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2014-2017
POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW, 2008-2012

Dr. Luke Matthews is an Anthropologist for the Rand Corporation. Formerly, he was Senior Scientific Director at Activate Networks Inc., a startup social network analysis company, and prior to that a Postdoctoral Fellow at Harvard University. He holds a PhD and MA in Anthropology from New York University, and bachelor's degrees in Anthropology and Biology from Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Dr. Matthews has studied biocultural inheritance in systems ranging from social networks of capuchin monkeys, to ancient human migrations and extant human cultural variation. His research has been featured in New Scientist, The Washington Post, The New York Times and other venues. His primary research interests include network and phylogenetic analysis, cultural dynamics, personality genetics, and applied social science. He worked on IBCSR's Religious Violence Project as a post-doctoral fellow and is currently working on the Sex Differences and Religion Project as a research associate. Find out more about Luke here.

Ann Taves

Ann Taves

SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2015-2017

Ann Taves is Professor of Religious Studies at the University of California Santa Barbara where she teaches courses in methods and theories in the study of religion and the history of Christianity, along with directing the Religion, Experience, and Mind Lab Group. Her books and articles address the role of unusual experiences in established religions and emergent spiritual paths, methods appropriate to the interdisciplinary study of anomalous experiences, and tools for bridging between the humanities and the natural sciences. She is a past president of the American Academy of Religion (2010), where she with Ted Slingerland co-founded the Cognitive Science of Religion Group, and the president elect of the International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religion. More information about Ann is available here.

Raymond F. Paloutzian

Raymond F. Paloutzian

SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2015-2017

Ray Paloutzian (PhD, Claremont Graduate School) is Professor Emeritus of experimental and social psychology, Westmont College, and consultant to the Religion, Experience, and Mind (REM) Lab Group at the University of California, Santa Barbara. He was Visiting Professor at Stanford University and Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium. He is Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, and of the American Psychological Association and its Divisions on Psychology of Religion, Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues, and International Psychology. Ray edited The International Journal for the Psychology of Religion (1998-2016). He co-edited Forgiveness and Reconciliation: Psychological Pathways to Conflict Transformation and Peace Building (Springer, 2010), the Handbook of the Psychology of Religion and Spirituality 2nd.ed. (Guilford, 2013), and Process of Believing: The Acquisition, Maintenance, and Change in Creditions (Springer, 2016).  His textbook Invitation to the Psychology of Religion (1st ed. 1983, 3rd ed. 2016, Guilford) helped establish the psychology of religion in its modern period. More information about Ray is available here.

Joseph Bulbulia

Joseph Bulbulia

SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2015-2017

Joseph Bulbulia is an evolutionary scholar of religion. He is interested in how religious commitments and institutions co-evolved and continue to affect people. Bulbulia received his PhD from Princeton University in 2001 (Thesis: Before Eden, Religion and the Evolved Mind). Since 2000, Bulbulia has been member of the Religious Studies Programme at Victoria University in Wellington, New Zealand, where he teaches courses on ritual, methods and theories in the study of religion, the psychology of religion, and the biology of religion. During 2014-2015, he was President of the International Association for the Cognitive Science of Religions, and is a core contributor to the New Zealand Attitudes and Values Study and Pulotu, a database of Pacific Religions. Bulbulia has been a co-editor of Religion, Brain & Behavior since 2015. For more information and links to Bulbulia's publications see his website.

Uffe Schjoedt

RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2016-2017

Uffe Schjoedt is a neuroscientist studying religion. He is Associate Professor in the school of Culture and Society, Department of the Study of Religion at the University of Aarhus in Denmark. Uffe is co-editor of IBCSR's journal Religion, Brain & Behavior. website.

Phil Zuckerman

Phil Zuckerman

SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2016-2017

Phil Zuckerman is a sociologist conducting research and writing on secularism, atheism, and unbelief. He is Professor of Sociology at Pitzer College in Southern California. More information about Phil is available in his website.

John Sokolowski

John Sokolowski

SENIOR RESEARCH ASSOCIATE, 2016-2017

John Sokolowski directs the Virgina Modeling, Analysis & Simulation Center at Old Dominion University. He works with IBCSR on unbelief research and computer simulation and modeling.

Former Research Associates

James Burns, 2008-2010

Charles Nunn, 2008-2012

Katherine Verdolini Abbott, 2009-2011

Magda Giordano, 2013-2014

Kirk Wegter -McNelly, 2013-2014

Andreas Tolk, 2013-2014

Ruben Mancha, 2013-2015

Michael Spezio 2015-2016

Current Post-Doctoral Fellows

Connor Wood

Connor Wood

POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW, 2016-2018

LINDAMOOD FELLOW, 2010-2015

Connor Wood recently earned his PhD from the Graduate Division of Religious Studies at Boston University. His research interests include religion and health, human ethology, signaling theory, ritual studies, shamanism, evolutionary theory, cultural evolution, cognitive styles, and the public understanding of issues in science and religion. He is currently working on the Modeling Religion Project. Connor can be contacted at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Joel C. Daniels

Joel C. Daniels

POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW, 2015-2017
LINDAMOOD FELLOW, 2010-2014
DOCTORAL FELLOW, 2009-2010

Joel Daniels (PhD, Boston University) edits the IBCSR Research Review. He is also Assistant Editor for Religion, Brain & Behavior. Visit his BU webpage here.

Stephanie N. Arel

Stephanie N. Arel

POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW, 2015-2017

Dr. Stephanie N. Arel completed a PhD from Boston University’s School of Theology and is currently training in trauma modalities for clinical treatment at the New York Institute for the Psychotherapies. Her work on IBCSR’s Sex Differences and Religion Project probes questions about the constitution of material and spiritual bodies, as well as how both interdepend on sexual reproduction. She is also interested in the ontogeny of shame and the role of violence in spiritual formation, especially as these relate to sex and gender.

Justin E. Lane

Justin E. Lane

POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW, 2015-2018

Dr. Justin Lane completed a doctoral at Oxford University and is working in the Institute's Modeling Religion Project.

Yair Lior

Yair Lior

POSTDOCTORAL FELLOW, 2015-2017

Dr. Yair Lior completed his doctoral studies at Boston University. His research at IBCSR is in the Comparative Cultural Systems Project, where he focuses on systems and information approaches to comparative religion. He is particularly interested in highlighting parallels between the Chinese and Jewish traditions as a showcase for the instrumentality of new comparative methodologies. His academic training is in Chinese philosophy, religion, and Song dynasty intellectual history, especially Neo-Confucian thought.

Former Post-Doctoral Fellows

Nat Barrett, 2007-2013

Luke Matthews, 2008-2012

Brandon Daniel-Hughes, 2008-2009

Edward Modestino, 2013-2015

Aimee Radom, 2011-2015

Ravi Iyer, 2012-2015

Erica Harris, 2013-2015

P. Monroe Butler, 2013-2015

Current Doctoral Fellows

Jonathan Morgan

Jonathan Morgan

CONTRIBUTOR to SCIENCEONRELIGION.ORG and EXPLORINGMYRELIGION.ORG, 2012-2015
LINDAMOOD FELLOW, 2013-2019

Jonathan Morgan began working with IBCSR when he was a masters student studying psychology and theology at Boston University. He continues as a Lindamood Doctoral Fellow, working on IBCSR's Neuroscience and Religious Cognition Project. He is particularly interested in understanding spirituality and its relationship to mental health. He is a regular contributor to ScienceOnReligion.org and the principal blogger at ExploringMyReligion.org.

Chris Halloran

Christopher Halloran

LINDAMOOD FELLOW, 2013-2019

Chris Halloran is a doctoral candidate in Boston University's Religion and Science graduate program. Through the Lindamood Fellowship, he works with Drs. Patrick McNamara and Wesley Wildman studying the neurobiology of religious cognition, focusing on the role of brain dopamine in the comprehension of religious concepts and theory of mind. His interests include the formulation of a science-driven metaphysical and epistemological pragmatist theory of religion and the intersection of science with religious and “non-religious” (cf. Humanist) communities in 21st century American politics, education, and media.

David Rohr

David Rohr

DOCTORAL FELLOW, 2013-2014, 2015-2017

David Rohr earned his MDiv from the Boston University School of Theology in 2012 and is currently working on his PhD in Religion and Science at BU's Graduate Division of Religious Studies. Dave is working with Wesley Wildman on the Dimensions of Spirituality Project and with Patrick McNamara on the Neuroscience and Religious Cognition Project. His own research is focused on the intersection of scientific and religious perspectives on human nature. Dave's long-term goal is to contribute to the development of a theological anthropology that is consistent with contemporary science, yet capable of fully affirming human spiritual quests.

Jennifer Lindsay

Jennifer Lindsay

LINDAMOOD FELLOW, 2014-2018

Jenn Lindsay is a PhD Candidate at Boston University's Graduate Division of Religious Studies, where she studies how religious difference affects personal relationships in families, friendships, and interfaith dialogue groups. She is presently conducting ethnographic dissertation research at Confronti Magazine in Rome, analyzing the nature and networks of interfaith dialogue in Italy. She is IBCSR's documentarian and has produced a series of videos about ongoing IBCSR projects and important trends at the Institute. Jenn uses her research and her documentary filmmaking to encourage reflection about religion “outside the box”: beyond institutions and policies, and within real lives and relationships. She earned her Master of Divinity with an emphasis in Interfaith Relations at Union Theological Seminary in New York City. She hails from San Diego, California and worked for a decade in New York City as an independent musician and filmmaker. Find out more about Jenn here.

Kate Stockly-Meyerdirk

Kate Stockly

DOCTORAL FELLOW, 2014-2017

Kate Stockly-Meyerdirk is working on her PhD in Science, Philosophy, and Religion at Boston University's Graduate Division of Religious Studies. Within IBCSR, she is working with Dr. Wesley Wildman and Dr. Patrick McNamara on the Sex Differences and Religion Project, seeking to uncover the complex interactions among sex, gender, religion, and spirituality. In general, her work is characterized by multidisciplinary investigation into human religiosity that aspires to harmonize the sciences and humanities.

 

 

Former Doctoral Fellows

Nicholas DiDonato, 2010-2015

Erica Harris 2007-2013

Derek Michaud, 2008-2010

Jeffrey Edmonds, 2008-2012

Joel Daniels, 2009-2010

P. Monroe Butler, 2009-2011

Daniel Ansted, 2011-2012

Ian Cooley, 2012-2014

Current Staff

teed brian sq200

Brian Teed

IBCSR Administrator, 2015-2016

Brian has a Master’s degree from Boston University School of Theology where he focused on existential and philosophical theology. He holds a BA in sociology. Brian ensures that IBCSR and its lab both run smoothly, working closely with Wesley Wildman and Patrick McNamara. He also participates in some of the institute's research projects.

Former Staff

James Haag

James Haag

ASSISTANT EDITOR FOR RELIGION, BRAIN & BEHAVIOR, 2010-2013

James Haag brings a PhD in religion and science, as well as considerable experience, to his work as Assistant Editor on the Taylor & Francis journal Religion, Brain & Behavior. He is Adjunct Lecturer in Philosophy at Suffolk University in Boston, MA. More information about James is available on Academia.edu.

Dan Finkel

Dan Finkel

EDITORIAL ASSISTANT FOR RELIGION, BRAIN & BEHAVIOR, 2010-2012

Dan is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at the University of Connecticut. His dissertation research focuses on the role of music and synchrony in social bonding, using a combination of fieldwork, lab experiments, and quantitative cross-cultural analysis. He has background and training in the neuroscience of social cognition, human behavioral ecology, and religion, and incorporates these perspectives in his research.

Jordan Kiper

Jordan Kiper

EDITORIAL ASSISTANT FOR RELIGION, BRAIN & BEHAVIOR, 2012-2013

Jordan Kiper is a PhD candidate in Anthropology at the University of Connecticut. Besides having graduate certificates in cognitive science, human rights, and quantitative research methods, he also possesses an MA in philosophy and a BA in art history. His research centers on the evolution of religion and morality, and also the effects of various forms of propaganda on human behavior.

April Minsky

April Minsky

Research Assistant, Neuroscience and Religious Cognition Project, 2013-2015

April was the head research assistant for the Neuroscience and Religious Cognition Project, affiliated with IBCSR and the Boston VA. She works closely with Patrick McNamara and Wesley Wildman. April graduated with a B.A. in psychology from Simmons College.

Ian Cooley

Ian Cooley

EDITORIAL ASSISTANT FOR RELIGION, BRAIN & BEHAVIOR, 2013-2014
DOCTORAL FELLOW, 2012-2014

Ian Cooley is a doctoral student in the Division of Religious and Theological Studies at Boston University. His present interests are focused primarily upon the phenomenology of religious experience, particularly as it pertains to our encounter with Otherness, and how such analyses might be applied to an understanding of scientific inquiry. He is also developing an increasingly nagging interest in the role that semantically open forms of language play both in the construction of experiential depth and in establishing a conceptual space for religiously interpretable engagements with existence. He is currently working with Dr. Wesley Wildman on the Quantifying Religious Experience Project (QRXP), and he is the editorial assistant for the Institute's journal, Religion, Brain & Behavior.