Trainee Board

IMBES is also very pleased to have a Trainee Board. Richard Daker and Elien Bellon serve as the co-trainee representatives to the IMBES Board and co-presidents of the IMBES Trainee Board. In these roles they articulate a vision for the trainee board and manage it, liaise between the Trainee Board and the main IMBES board, serve as the voice for the trainee community, and promote the interests and engagement of trainees.


Richard Daker

Rich Daker is a PhD student in the Psychology Department at Georgetown University working with Dr. Ian Lyons and Dr. Adam Green. His research uses a combination of behavioral, psychophysiology, and neuroimaging methods to understand the role that anxiety about math, creativity, and spatial reasoning plays in shaping academic achievement and is broadly interested in exploring ways that psychology and neuroscience can help students succeed. Before starting graduate school, Rich worked at ideas42 where he helped apply findings from psychology to improve graduation rates among community college students. He completed his undergraduate studies at Princeton University with concentrations in psychology and neuroscience.


Elien Bellon

Elien Bellon is a PhD student at the Parenting and Special Education Research unit of the KU Leuven, Belgium, working with Prof. Dr. Bert De Smedt (KU Leuven) and Prof. Dr. Wim Fias (Ghent University). With her doctoral dissertation, Elien aims to further our understanding of individual differences in children's mathematical skills and the neurocognitive mechanisms that underlie mathematical skills and development. Her research primarily focuses on the role of metacognition in arithmetic and she uses both behavioral and neuroimaging methods to answer her research questions. Eventually, based on her research findings, Elien aspires to design targeted training and/or intervention for primary school children who struggle with mathematics.


Matthew Shackley

Matthew Shackley is a PhD student in Education with an interdisciplinary emphasis in Cognitive Science at the Gevirtz Graduate School of Education at UC Santa Barbara, working with Dr. Julie Bianchini. His research applies educational psychology to better understand student perceptions of climate change mechanisms, and student willingness to engage in pro-environmental behavior. He hopes to use this work to inform the development of environmental science curricula, more effective at promoting environmental stewardship and sustainable development. Prior to graduate school, Matthew worked as a middle school science teacher in his hometown of Las Vegas, NV after receiving his B.S. in Biological Sciences from the University of Nevada, Las Vegas and M.S. in Teaching and Learning from Colorado State University.

Research Chair

Yunji Park

Yunji is a PhD student in the educational psychology department at UW-Madison working with Drs. Percival Matthews and Edward Hubbard. Her PhD work focuses on understanding children’s structural and functional brain development and how it interplays with learning. Currently, she is also collaborating with Drs. Douglas Dean III and Andrew Alexander in the medical physics department of her university for her diffusion MRI work. She is particularly interested in understanding developmental changes in the relationship between white matter connectivity and math learning. Yunji’s research is all about attempting to bridge the fields of mind, brain, and education!

Policy and Practice Chair

Rene Grimes

Rene is a former early childhood educator, and currently a doctoral candidate in the department of Special Education at the University of Texas, Austin. Her current work focuses on at-risk-for math learning disability populations (preschool through first grade). Her doctoral work has also included supporting middle school teachers providing mathematics interventions, supervising and supporting pre-service teachers in their field experiences, and as a liaison-advocate for students with chronic health care needs during hospital stays and as they return to school.

Social Media Chair

Alexa Ellis

Alexa Ellis is a doctoral candidate in the Combined Program in Education and Psychology at the University of Michigan, advised by Drs. Pamela Davis-Kean, Fred Morrison, and Ioulia Kovelman. Her research focuses on the development of children’s early math skills and understanding the contribution of the home and school contexts to those early skills. She is currently conducting her dissertation data collection in schools and is excited to be part of the IMBES trainee board. Be sure to tag @IMBESoc on twitter to spark fun conversations!

Past President

Jessica Younger

Jessica Younger is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Neuroscape Research center at the University of California, San Francisco, where she works with Dr. Melina Uncapher. She uses a variety of neuroimaging and behavioral research methods to understand the roots of individual differences in learning and academic achievement. As a member of the Education Program, she uses mobile technology to do large-scale in-school assessment and intervention to understand the core cognitive skills underlying learning and whether training these cognitive skills can result in improved academic outcomes. Jessica completed her doctorate in Communication Sciences and Disorders at University of Texas at Austin where she researched the neural correlates of sound-symbol learning under the direction of Dr. James Booth.

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