Department of Philosophy
University of Kansas
I am an Assistant Professor (Associate, starting July, 2019) at the University of Kansas. I earned my Ph.D. in philosophy at Princeton University in the Logic and Philosophy of Science track, under the supervision of Gil Harman and Sarah-Jane Leslie.
As an undergraduate at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln, I was interested in cognitive science, so I started majoring in computer science and psychology. Given that computer science required a significant bit of math, I added a math major to those. Then, after having long conversations with Barbara Von Eckardt and Jeff Poland, and seeing talks by David Lewis and Jerry Fodor (among many others), I added philosophy as a fourth major. I was able to put that all together to earn both a B.S. (in computer science, math, and psychology) and a B.A. (in philosophy).
During one summer in college, I was a computational neuroscience intern at the University of Minnesota–Twin Cities, where I programmed a simulation of the CA3 hippocampal neuron found in rats in the lab of Linda Boland. I also worked in the labs of Rick Bevins and Dan Bernstein as an undergraduate. After graduating, I worked for two years in the lab of Jeff Zacks at Washington University in St. Louis as a research assistant and lab manager. I helped design and run experiments, both behavioral and fMRI-based. Although I learned a lot doing real science with real scientists, it became clear that I would rather think about science than do the science myself.
I have two areas of research interest. First, I am working to understand the nature of computation and its place in the scientific explanation of the mind and brain. While computational simulation is ubiquitous in science, only a few things—computers, minds, and brains—are explained via their ability to literally perform computations. What does that mean?
Second, I do some work on the nature of emotions, particularly guilt and shame. It is surprisingly difficult to understand what makes something an emotion, rather than some other affective state, such as a feeling. Guilt and shame are particularly useful test cases for philosophical accounts of emotion, both because of their close connection to morality and their seemingly close connection to one another.