Primary Investigator (PI):

William Warren-

William Warren earned his undergraduate degree at Hampshire College (1976), his Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from the University of Connecticut (1982), did post-doctoral work at the University of Edinburgh, and has been a professor at Brown ever since. He served as Chair of the Department of Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences from 2002-10. Warren is the recipient of a Fulbright Research Fellowship, an NIH Research Career Development Award, and Brown’s Elizabeth Leduc Teaching Award for Excellence in the Life Sciences. Warren’s research focuses on the visual control of action – in particular, human locomotion and navigation. He seeks to explain how this behavior is adaptively regulated by multi-sensory information, within a dynamical systems framework. Using virtual reality techniques, his research team investigates problems such as the visual control of steering, obstacle avoidance, wayfinding, pedestrian interactions, and the collective behavior of crowds. Experiments in the Virtual Environment Navigation Lab (VENLab) enable his group to manipulate what participants see as they walk through a virtual landscape, and to measure and model their behavior. The aim of this research is to understand how adaptive behavior emerges from the dynamic interaction between an organism and its environment. He believes the answers will not be found only in the brain, but will strongly depend on the physical and informational regularities that the brain exploits. This work contributes to basic knowledge that is needed to understand visual-motor disorders in humans, and to develop mobile robots that can operate in novel environments.


Lab Manager:

Tess White-

Tess White (She/They) is the Lab’s Manager. She comes from Reno, Nevada where she received her B.A. in Psychology and French from the University of Nevada, Reno. Her background is in visual search and attention.

Graduate Students:

Jiuyang Bai-

Jiuyang joined the VENLab in 2016, before which he received his Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Zhengzhou University in China and Master of Science degree in Cognitive and Behavioral Sciences from Illinois State University (advised by Dr. J. Scott Jordan). Jiuyang is interested in human Perception and Action and computational modeling of behavior. He has been working on ODE models of pedestrian following and avoidance. The models he has developed and tested can be applied to computer animation, pedestrian navigation, and civil engineering design. His dissertation title is “The Control Laws of Pedestrian Collision Avoidance”.

Meghan Willcoxon-

Meghan Willcoxon studies self-organization in local neighborhoods of human crowds using behavioral experiments in virtual reality. Before coming to Brown, she received her B.A. in Cognitive Science at Vassar College.

Zhenyu Zhu-

Zhenyu joined VENLab in 2019 as a PhD student after he got his bachelor degree in neuroscience from NYU Shanghai. At VENLab, he is interested in using computational methods and behavioral tasks to study visual motion information used in human locomotion. In his spare time, he enjoys cycling on a good day and binge watching tv shows on a bad day. 

Kei Yoshida-

B.A., Computer Science & Psychology, Coe College, 2020
Kei Yoshida (she/her) studies how collective motion emerges from dynamic local interactions of individual agents. She is particularly interested in how a pedestrian influences the behavior of other pedestrians and how these leader-follower interactions change over time. Before joining the VENLab in 2020, she completed her B.A. in Computer Science and Psychology at Coe College.

Kyra Veprek-

Kyra Veprek (she/her) is a first year student in the CLPS Department broadly interested in the intersection between spatial perception and locomotion. Before Brown, Kyra studied visual cognition & attention, as well as studio art, at the University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Undergrad Research Assistants:

Esha Kataria

Kira Clarke

Helen Peng

Selena Yang


Lab Managers:

Bruce Kay:

Center for Ecological Study of Perception and Action (retired)



Max Kinateder:

Research Officer at the National Research Council Canada (Fire Safety, Construction Research Center) and an adjunct research faculty at Carleton University (Dept. of Cognitive Science)

Personal Site  LinkedIn

Brett Fajen:

Cognitive Science Department, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


Pat Foo:

Professor of Psychology and the Coordinator of the Neuroscience Minor at the University of North Carolina at Asheville


Mintao Zhao:

 Lecturer in School of Psychology, University of East Anglia, UK

Personal Website   Twitter

Huiying Zhong:

Adam Kiefer:

Assistant Professor, Co-Director of STAR Heel Performance Laboratory, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

LinkedIn   Personal Twitter  Lab Twitter

Benoît Bardy:

EuroMov Digital Health in Motion, University of Montpellier, France

Webpage LinkedIn Twitter ResearchGate

Michael Cinelli:

Professor in the Department of Kinesiology and Physical Education at Wilfrid Laurier University in Waterloo, Ontario, Canada

Department Website Lab Website

Phillip William Fink:

 Professeur des Universités, Université Sorbonne Paris Nord, in the STAPS (Sciences et Techniques des Activités Physiques et Sportives) department; Professuer des Universités associé, Institut de Biomechanique Humaine George Charpak, which is part of Paris Arts et Métiers

ResearchGate Link

Chris Rhea:

Affiliation starting June 10: Associate Dean for Research and Innovation, College of Health Sciences, Old Dominion University

Grad Students:

Greg Dachner:

Project Manager, Uncommon Schools


Melissa Kearns:

Senior Project Manager at Dassault Systemes


Nicholas Hatsopoulos:

Professor at University of Chicago

Lab Website

Kevin Rio:

 Research Scientist, Applied Perception Science at Meta

Website  LinkedIn

Justin Owens:

 Research Scientist, Vulnerable Road User Safety; Virginia Tech Transportation Institute


Jonathon Ericson

Assistant Professor, Bentley University; Waltham, MA


Liz Chrastil:

Assistant Professor, UC Irvine, Department of Neurobiology and Behavior 

Website   Twitter

Andrew Duchon:

Director of Data Science at Manzama, now part of Diligent, Inc.



Emily Richmond:

4th Year medical student, Queen’s University School of Medicine; Kingston, Ontario, Canada


Josh Siegle:

Senior Scientist, Allen Institute for Neural Dynamics

Mandi Cai:

Data Journalist at The Texas Tribune

TexasTribune   LinkedIn

Kevin Swong:

Assistant professor of neurosurgery, Northwestern Medicine

LinkedIn  Northwestern Medicine


Michael L. Kalish:

Professor and Associate Chair in Psychology as Syracuse University

Personal Site


Chaz Firestone:

 Assistant Professor of Psychological & Brain Sciences, Johns Hopkins University

Lab Website   Twitter


Elias Jaffa:

Affiliation (as of 7/1/22): Yale Department of Emergency Medicine (currently Prisma Health—Upstate)
Samuel Crisanto:
Data Engineer at Dataminr
Daniel Rothman
CFO of Rendr Care
Michael Morris:
 Chavkin-Chang Professor of Leadership in the Management Division of Columbia Business School, Professor in the Psychology Department of Columbia University, Associate Editor: Psychological Review