Lab members

Sam Schwarzkopf

Sam did a neuroscience degree at Cardiff University and subsequently decided to stay there also to do his PhD with Frank Sengpiel where he used optical imaging to investigate experience-dependent plasticity of visual cortex. Subsequently, he did a brief postdoc project at the University of Birmingham, where he moved into human neuroimaging and cognitive neuroscience. In 2008, he moved to University College London to postdoc with Geraint Rees and developed a research interest in individual differences. In 2012, he was awarded a ERC Starting Grant and set up his own lab at UCL. In 2017, he decided he had enough of Brexit, crowds, air pollution, and the banana republic that the UK had become and moved to the School of Optometry & Vision Science at the University of Auckland, New Zealand, although he still maintains an active affiliation at UCL.

Ecem Altan

Ecem is a PhD student at the University of Auckland funded by a Marsden research grant to Steven Dakin on which Sam is an AI. Her research uses functional imaging to investigate the link between visual acuity, perceived stimulus size, and spatial sensitivity of visual cortex. She previously investigated the spatial extent of the size aftereffect for her Master’s project at Bilkent University.

Gene Tang

Gene (Thanaphon Tangtartharakul) is from the School of Psychology. He received a Summer Research Scholarship for a project in the lab in 2021/22 and subsequently continued into a year-long research project in which he compared retinotopic maps generated from cortico-cortical functional connectivity (connective field maps) with those obtained with more conventional population receptive field analysis. Moreover, he also used these methods to generate maps of the peripheral visual field. In 2023, he is doing an Honours project (in collaboration with Paul Corballis) to explore the use of EEG for visual field mapping.


Jenny (Zien) Huang – Jenny from the School of Psychology did her Honours project in the lab. She used functional MRI and encoding models to investigate the neural correlates of perceptual grouping and visual awareness, following on from earlier psychophysical work Sam did with Geraint Rees back in London. Since graduating, she has been working in the lab running psychophysical experiments. She also briefly worked as a research assistant in the lab to trial a statistical framework for small-N studies. She is now embarking on a new adventure to study for a PhD with John Greenwood at UCL, possibly leading to further collaborations.

Dr Poutasi Urale – Tasi was the first PhD student in the Auckland lab. His doctoral research primarily investigated visual size illusions, testing the underlying neural mechanisms with psychophysical studies. He also studied how these illusions affect action, using both computer-based lab tasks and real-world experiments. Finally, he conducted a set of brain imaging experiments on the neural mechanisms of perceptual filling-in of the physiological blind spot.

Dr Susanne Stoll – Susanne was a PhD student in the lab at UCL. Her research investigated perceptual grouping and spatial attention, she developed methods for quantifying pRF data and strove to better understand common statistical artifacts with this type of analysis. Since 2021, she has been a postdoc in Esther Kuehn‘s research group at the IKND Magdeburg.

Dr Man-Ling Ho – Mandy was a PhD student in the lab at UCL, completing in June 2021. Her doctoral project focused on using brain imaging to reconstruct how people subjectively perceive visual stimuli starting from simple visual illusions of object size and relating this to the representation of stimulus position. She also compared various psychophysical methods to understand how we can best measure an individual’s perceptual experience. 

Dr Elisa Infanti – Elisa was a postdoc and a teaching fellow at UCL. Her research in the lab focussed on the role of temporal and contextual information in shaping subjective visual perception. She also dabbled in studying the neural correlates of visual imagery.

Dr Haiyang Jin – Haiyang was a PhD student with Paul Corballis at UoA, cosupervised by Sam. His work studied holistic face perception.

Dr Alexandra Kalpadakis-Smith – Alex was a PhD student with John Greenwood at UCL, cosupervised by Sam. Her doctoral thesis investigated crowding in amblyopia.

Mathias Van der Biest – A master student of experimental psychology at Ghent University who visited Sam’s lab at UoA for half a year. During his stay he ran several psychophysical experiments in a Virtual Reality setting.

Dr Nonie Finlayson – Nonie was a postdoc at UCL who studied the heritability of retinotopic maps and spatial heterogeneity in visual perception. Another of her research interests is the processing of stereoscopic depth.

Dr Benjamin de Haas – Ben was a postdoc at UCL, later supported by an independent DfG fellowship. He had his fingers in many projects but his primary interests revolved around the neural processing of facial features and individual differences in eye gaze.

Harshil Patel – Did his 3rd year research project in the lab studying cross-cultural differences in visual illusions.

Shwe Ei – Did her 3rd year research project in the lab studying the heritability of visual processing.

Alexi Iakovidis – Supervised by Ben de Haas, Alexi did a research project investigating individual differences in gaze behaviour and how they relate to personality.

Sanja Klein – Did an internship supervised by Ben de Haas to study individual differences in the recognition of letter strings.

Victorita Neacsu – Did a research project as part of her MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience. She investigated spatial heterogeneity in the perception of ambiguous visual images.

Kelda Manser-Smith – Did a research project as part of her MSc in Research Methods. Her experiments tested methods our group developed for measuring perceptual biases whilst controlling for cognitive confounds.

Nick Evans – Did a research as part of his intercalated medical degree. His psychophysical experiments compared objective and subjective size perception.

Dr Christina Moutsiana – Christina was a postdoc (also partially in Tali Sharot’s lab). Her research investigated the neural correlates of size perception and conducted a case-study on a patient with unexplained vision loss.

Andriani Papageorgiou – Studied for a MSc Neuroscience and did a research project comparing attentional modulation of size perception.

Gurmukh Panesar – Did a MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience and conducted a preliminary research project investigating neural correlates of perceptual grouping in visual cortex.

Rebecca Tyrwhitt-Drake – Studied for a MSci in Brain, Behaviour and Cognition. Her research project compared pRF maps from human visual cortex measured with modal and amodal completion stimuli.

Jelle van Dijk – Studied for a MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience and did his research project on the test-retest reliability of pRF maps in human visual cortex.

Annika Balraj – Visited UCL from George Washington University. During her stay she evaluated the efficiency and reliability of new psychophysical methods for measuring perceptual biases.

Theodora Banica – Did her research project as part of her a Dual Master course in Brain and Mind Sciences. Her experiments investigated unconscious processing of illusory contours (Kanizsa figures).

Charlotte Wilks – Did a MSc Neuroscience and her research project used perceptual learning of orientation discrimination to investigate the relationship between objective and subjective performance.




Dr Catherine Morgan (UoA)
Prof Steven Dakin
Dr Kate Storrs (UoA)
Dr Phil Turnbull (UoA)
Dr Chris Erb (UoA)

Dr John Greenwood (UCL)
Dr Tessa Dekker (UCL)
Prof Geraint Rees (UCL)

Prof Sheng Li (Peking University)

Prof Derek Arnold (UQ Brisbane)
Dr Fernanda Ribeiro (UQ Brisbane)

Prof Simon Rushton (Cardiff University)
Prof Sarah Weigelt (TU Dortmund)
Dr Benjamin de Haas (JL Uni Giessen)

Dr Francesca Fardo (Aarhus University)
Dr Micah Allen (Aarhus University)