Meet the Cognitive Science & Numeracy Team!
[Pictured above (left to right): Chad Buckland, Leo Brigas, Rylan Waring, Marcie Penner-Wilger, John Nowak, Adam Newton, Robert Nowosielski, Cindel White, Sarah Hunt, Olivia Wassing]
Check back for new profiles as the academic year continues.
Marcie Penner-Wilger, Ph.D.
Marcie Penner-Wilger, Ph.D.
Marcie Penner-Wilger, assistant professor in the psychology department at King’s University College at Western University, has over a decade of experience in numerical cognition research. In addition to working with members of the Cognitive Science & Numeracy Lab, she collaborates with researchers from the University of Waterloo, Carleton University, the University of Alberta, the University of Winnipeg, Trent University, the University of Richmond, and Franklin & Marshall College.
Dr. Penner-Wilger earned her Ph.D. in Cognitive Science from Carleton University, where she held both a Julie Payette and a Canada Graduate Scholarship from the Natural Science and Engineering Research Council.
Dr. Penner-Wilger is the author of scholarly and scientific publications in cognitive science and cognitive psychology. Her work appears in such journals as Memory & Cognition, Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, Developmental Psychobiology, Child Development, and the Journal of Experimental Child Psychology.
Prior to joining King’s, Dr. Penner-Wilger was a visiting assistant professor at Franklin & Marshall College, an elite liberal arts college in Pennsylvania, and worked as the Chief Scientist of an educational software company in Ottawa.
4th Year Honors Psych.
I am a fourth year Honors Specialization – Psychology student at King's University College at Western University. My research interests include learning disabilities, mental health education, and bullying/resilience. I joined the Cognition and Numeracy Lab at King’s in 2012 and have been an active member ever since! In July 2014, I presented a poster differentiating the symbolic and nonsymbolic number systems at CogSci 2014 with Rylan Waring. Our paper was published as a part of the conference's proceedings. My thesis focuses on the cognitive profiles of individuals with developmental dyscalculia and aims to identify the diverse range of abilities individuals possess. My thesis takes a strength-based approach and intends to inform researchers, educators, and clinicians of the diverse set of skills that individuals living with dyscalculia or other math-related impairments can use to improve their math performance.
As a researcher, I have also investigated the role and relation of symbolic and nonsymbolic number representation systems and factors contributing to resiliency among university students. In addition to my thesis, I am currently conducting an efficacy study to evaluate the effectiveness of the PEARS mental health education program, a Canada Mental Health Association program for which I was the lead author.
Outside of the lab, I serve as the Psychology Student Representative, a mentor to first year students, and a camp and leadership coordinator for the City of London. In my spare time, I enjoy playing hockey, soccer, and playing with my dog.
4th Year Major Psych.
I’m Leo Patrick Bigras, currently a 4th year psychology major who is switching over to an honour’s specialization. I am someone who tries to live in the moment and let things happen as they come. I am an avid video game player and enjoy games like dungeons and dragons and magic the gathering. I joined the lab mainly to gain some experience in the research side of psychology which I have had a growing interest in since my second year. At the moment I am working towards a job in research of some kind. I don’t have a specific area of interest in psychology other than cognition as a general subject but if I had to choose now I would probably have an interest in neural communication and consciousness.
4th Year Honors Psych.
I am currently completing my Honors Specialization in Psychology. I joined the Cognitive Science and Numeracy Lab to learn how to conduct research in psychology outside of the classroom. I plan to apply to graduate school for psychology in the next year and continue conducting research into human cognition. My research interests focus on how cognitive psychology can provide insight into social and cultural phenomena.
4th Year Honors Psych., Minor Philosophy
Saying that, “I joined Marcie’s lab because I want to help people,” might seem vague or overly simplistic. Many people say that they want to, “help people,” but many do not know how to start. Marcie taught me to start by asking the simple question, “What do I know?” She explained, “Once you figure out what you know, what skills you have, and what you can do [because everyone can do something], it’s EASY!” When I reflected on this I realized that not only do I have opportunities to assist with meaningful psychological research, I have also over the past three years acquired the understanding and skills to navigate within such research for insights into some of life’s toughest questions. Seizing Marcie’s offer, to collaborate with her team to design a study for improving student’s math ability, has thus become the best way for me to self-actualize into the person I always wanted to be. Emerson perfectly captures my goals: “The purpose of life is…to be useful, to be honourable, to be compassionate, [and] to have it make some difference that you have lived.”
In the future, I plan to pursue graduate studies focusing upon serving the needs of our military and other emergency responders.
Honors Bachelors of Arts, Psych.
I am a recent graduate of the Honors Specialization BA program in Psychology at King’s University College. I completed my Honours thesis under the supervision of Dr. Imants Baruss where I examined the relationship between a person’s belief in free will and their measures of motivation and volition. I am currently working as a research assistant for Dr. Marcie Penner-Wilger in the Cognitive Science lab where we are looking at the relationship between subitizing (the automatic enumeration of small sets of 1-4 items), finger representation and math skills in adults. I am also working for Dr. Cathy Chovaz, and collaborating with Dr. Ken McIsaac of the Engineering department. We are testing a newly developed monitoring system that will be incorporated into the classrooms of Deaf children diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) in order to identify potential environmental triggers for the behavioural outbursts commonly observed in children diagnosed with ASD. It is our goal to eliminate sources of distress for these children that would otherwise go unnoticed. My research interests are broad and include looking into the cognitive differences between clinical groups such as individuals diagnosed with ASD, Schizophrenia and drug dependency. My goal is to pursue graduate studies in either cognitive or clinical psychology with the hope of eventually obtaining a job teaching and doing research at a university.
3rd Year, Honors Psych.
Hello friends, my name is John Nowak! I am in my third year of psychology at King’s. Apart from school, I am the assistant general manager at Williams Fresh Café downtown. In my spare time I enjoy exploring nature and spending time with friends. I joined the lab because I am interested in cognition and how our mental processes distinguish one human from another. I am particularly interested in research surrounding: memory, problem solving, and thinking. My research goals are to find a solution to identified problems that individuals face in schooling. My career goals are to pursue my Master’s Degree in psychology, and then either continue on and receive a PhD or perhaps a Master’s Degree in business as well. Ultimately my goal is to provide some public service that can be beneficial to society. Whether running a private practice, or providing research, I aspire to leave a positive impact on people’s lives.
3rd Year, Honors Psych.
Hi! My name is Olivia Wassing. I 'm in my third year of Honor Specialization in Psychology at King's. I joined the numerical cognition lab because I took an interest in cognitive science last year and heard about the lab from Professor Penner-Wilger in my classes. I am still unsure what my career/ research goals are, but I'm hoping to figure those out as time goes on.