About Us

"An experimental exploration of the frontier of consciousness and the realization of the promise such knowledge will bring."


Understanding consciousness is the Holy Grail of cognitive science, and for good reason. Nothing seems so intimately familiar to us and yet so mysterious to our understanding. It is a defining feature of our humanity, and transformations of consciousness are the hallmark of our spirituality. There is nothing we would exchange for our consciousness, and yet we have no clear idea what it does, or how it fits into the natural world. At once enticing and elusive, its explanation stands at the frontier of our scientific self-understanding.

While there is no shortage of theories that attempt to explain consciousness, we now enter an era where experimentation holds the plausible promise of taking us a long way towards truly understanding consciousness. This transformation of theory into more direct investigation holds the potential to create new concepts and technologies for understanding and altering consciousness. These new practices and practical devices could in turn drive a fundamental transformation of our self-understanding and spirituality. This new Consciousness & Wisdom Studies Lab has as its mandate just such an experimental exploration of the frontier of consciousness and the realization of the promise such knowledge will bring.

– Dr. John Vervaeke

our team

Meet our wonderful researchers and associates!

  • John Vervaeke
    Lab Director

    John Vervaeke is an Assistant Professor, in the teaching stream. He has been teaching at the University of Toronto since 1994. He currently teaches courses in the Cognitive Science program including Introduction to Cognitive Science, and the Cognitive Science of Consciousness; courses in the Psychology department on thinking and reasoning with an emphasis on insight problem solving, cognitive development with an emphasis on the dynamical nature of development, and higher cognitive processes with an emphasis on intelligence, rationality, mindfulness, and the Psychology of wisdom.

    E-mail: [email protected]
  • Anderson Todd
    Assistant Director

    Anderson Todd is the Assistant Director of U of T's Consciousness and Wisdom Studies Lab. He teaches in the Cognitive Science program and Interdisciplinary Courses on Jungian Theory program at the University of Toronto, on Consciousness and The Unconscious respectively. He also consults in private practice as a psychotherapist to individuals, and as an enrichment education specialist to private schools.

    E-mail: [email protected]
  • Michel Ferrari
    Primary Investigator

    Michel Ferrari is interested in personal identity and how it develops in typical and atypical populations. This interest extends, in particular, to questions of personal wisdom, as an ideal aspiration of personal development. Dr. Ferrari is head of the Wisdom and Identity Lab, which explores personal wisdom in people of different ages (from children to the elderly) in different countries around the world.

  • Juensung Kim

    Juensung is a PhD student in the Developmental Psychology and Education program at OISE. He received his Honours Bachelor of Arts in Cognitive Science and Philosophy at UofT in 2016, and his MA in Developmental Psychology and Education in 2017. Juensung’s research interests include tracing philosophical themes of enlightenment or exemplary development in folk psychology, cognitive scientific theories of wisdom, and cognitive science of religion.

    E-mail: [email protected]
  • Ammar Ijaz

    The Mothman Ammar Ijaz is a legendary creature reportedly seen in the Point Pleasant area from November 12, 1966, to December 15, 1967. The first newspaper report was published in the Point Pleasant Register dated November 16, 1966, titled "Couples See Man-Sized Bird ... Creature ... Something".

    E-mail: [email protected]
  • Sasa Milic

    Sasa is a researcher in the Computational Linguistics Group where she studies computational cognitive modelling. She is interested in computer science, cognitive science, and the occult.

    E-mail: [email protected]
  • Sofiia Rappe

    Sofiia is a graduate student at the Philosophy Department of the University of Edinburgh. She received her Hon. B.Sc. in 2017 from the University of Toronto where she majored in Linguistics and Mathematics.

    E-mail: [email protected]
  • Josh Seltzer

    Josh recently completed his undergraduate degree, specializing in computer science and cognitive science. He is primarily interested in the intersection of cognitive neuroscience with developments in artificial intelligence / deep learning, and is looking to incorporate insights between the two fields to consolidate our understanding of cognition.

    E-mail: [email protected]
  • Phil Johnston

    Phil is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto, where he studied neuroscience and cognitive science. He is involved in several research projects at U of T, focusing on cognitive neuroscience and psychophysiology.

    E-mail: [email protected]
  • Leah Glassow-Hill

    Leah is a researcher in child development and an associate with CWSL. Having recently completed her master's degree in Developmental Psychology and Education at OISE at the University of Toronto, her work is currently exploring measures of attention and engagement in children with disabilities, as well as also currently working on a project related to growth mindset and decision making with CWSL.

    E-mail: [email protected]
  • Vlad Helwig

    Vlad is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto, primarily studying Cognitive Science, Psychology, and Philosophy. He is interested in studying the intersection of cognitive science, consciousness, and clinical psychology. He is also interested in avoiding photographs, a dubiously wide range of subject matter, and the idea of grad school.

    E-mail: [email protected]
  • Sasha Allen

    University of Toronto, OISE, MA Candidate in Clinical and Counselling Psychology Sasha is a Masters student in the Clinical and Counselling Psychology Program at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. She is interested in personality and cognitive science.

    E-mail: [email protected]
  • Jason Chow

    I'm a fourth year psychology specialist focusing on perception's effect on learning and memory. Using a variety of stimuli, we're exploring how people develop and use categories. Particularly, I've been developing a new stimulus set using 3D modeling techniques to give us careful control over the features we are presenting.

    E-mail: [email protected]
  • Hannah Cho

    Hannah is a recent graduate of the University of Toronto, receiving their Hon.B.Sc. in Cognitive Science and Neuroscience. They are currently working as a Volunteer Administrative Associate in CWSL, and as a Lab Manager in the Learning and Neural Development Lab and Duncan Memory Lab. Hannah is interested in pursuing further studies in cognitive psychology, with a keen interest in learning and applying methods from varied disciplines to obtain an integrated understanding of cognitive processes. They are particularly drawn to how different cognitive processes interact and influence each other. Outside of research, Hannah enjoys drawing, swing dancing, and spending time with loved ones.

    E-mail: [email protected]
  • Becky Gross

    Becky is a third year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, studying psychology, neuroscience and German. She is interested in social cognition, cross-cultural differences in subjective well-being, and functional and structural brain differences in ASP population. After finishing her undergraduate degree she would like to pursue graduate studies in the field of clinical psychology.

    E-mail: [email protected]
  • Samantha Quinto

    Samantha is a third year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, studying Computer Science, Cognitive Science and Biology. She is interested in using current knowledge within cognitive neuroscience to further development in the field of artificial intelligence and machine/deep learning. Samantha’s hobbies include coding, exploring Toronto and sleeping.

    E-mail: [email protected]
  • Konstantinos Xanthios

    Konstantinos is a graduate of the University of Toronto and has studied Psychology and English literature. Currently a lead research facilitator for the V.E.R.Wiki, he is interested in examining Cognitive Science within an interdisciplinary framework involving the psychology of problem solving and its pedagogical relationship to the dissemination of knowledge transformation. He hopes to pursue graduate school for Psychology, and his hobbies include a passion for music and practicing guitar.

    E-mail: [email protected]
  • Melanie Munroe

    Melanie is a PhD candidate in the Developmental Psychology and Education (DPE) program at OISE. She received her Honours Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Brock University and her Master of Arts in DPE from OISE. Melanie's research revolves around how individuals cope wisely with adversity. More specifically, her work in our lab looks at how cognitive factors (such as cognitive flexibility and self-regulation) impact the relationship between post-traumatic growth and wisdom.

    Email: [email protected]
  • Jonathan Gabe

    Jonathan is a second year undergraduate student at the university of Toronto, studying cognitive science, psychology and computer science. He assists in funding and organizational matters. His primary goal is to help the lab contribute research in the fields of wisdom and insight to combat the meaning crisis and the rise of nihilism.

  • Efe Uygun

    Efe is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto, studying cognitive science, computer science, and psychology. He assists in funding and related research. Efe is interested in problem-solving strategies as they are implemented in brains and machines and making bridges between them. His hobbies include making music and learning new things.

  • Nicholas Robichaud

    Nick is a third year undergraduate student, studying Cognitive Science, Philosophy and Psychology at the University of Toronto. He is interested in cognitive development, as well as how cultural, religious, and philosophical beliefs can contribute to meaning and wisdom. His hobbies include writing, outdoor recreation, and singing.

  • Philip Rajewicz

    Philip is a fourth-year undergraduate student pursuing a specialist in Psychology, a major in Cognitive Science and a minor in Philosophy. His academic interests revolve around how the mind develops and affords higher cognitive process like morality, wisdom, and rationality, as well as various topics in the philosophy of mind and philosophy of science. He is extremely passionate about how researchers can understand pressing questions about the human mind in a lucid and truthful manner; one that is afforded to us by using the research methods of the modern behavioural sciences and the rigour and clarity provided by a philosophically informed framework. Outside of his academic interests, he enjoys reading literature and exploring the streets of Toronto.

  • Kaitlynn Marrese

    Kaitlynn is a fifth year undergraduate student in the Psychology Specialist, Cognitive Science Major and Bioethics Minor programs at the University of Toronto. Her interests span anywhere from the physiological underpinnings of behaviour to philosophical conceptualizations. More specifically, she is interested in the interplay between philosophy and empirical works (or, the lack thereof). When Kaitlynn is not questioning the ways of the world, you’ll most likely find her deep within Kensington Market, at the gym or watching Dr. Phil.

  • Kathy Du

    Kathy is a third-year undergraduate student studying a specialist in psychology and a major in cognitive science. She is interested in a wide variety of topics within cognitive science and is excited to learn even more! Her more niche interest is the cognitive science behind members of fringe groups such as flat-earthers; how they arrive and become attracted to their irrational conclusions and create their own subcultures. In her spare time, she can be found browsing yelp, exploring fringe group forums, online shopping, and overthinking things.

  • Jiesi Liu

    Jiesi is a third year undergraduate at University of Toronto with majors in Cognitive Science and Psychology, as well as a minor in Buddhism, Psychology, and Mental Health. Her interest is in altered states of consciousness for both out-of-the-ordinary and everyday occurrences and how these can affect overall mental states. She also harbors a curiosity for the role self-schemas play in normal and abnormal mental health. When she has free time and motivation, Jiesi enjoys writing fanfiction, creating unusual makeup looks, and expanding her fountain pen collection.

  • Anna Nabutovsky

    Anna Nabutovsky is a final-year University of Toronto, Trinity College student pursuing a degree in Psychology and Statistics. Anna's work has largely focused on the various applications of perception, judgment, and decision-making to the legal and financial sectors. At CWSL, Anna is excited to be exploring the neurophysiological basis of intuition and its associated implications.


Previous members of the lab

  • Filip Miscevic
  • Vanessa Rowlin