Current lab members: (lab director, mascot, Phd students, masters students, & undergraduate research scholars)

Michael C. Hout (Lab Director): I attended the University of Pittsburgh for my undergraduate degree, in my hometown of Pittsburgh, PA. There, I received a BS in Psychology, with a minor in Neuroscience. In 2006 I moved to Tempe, AZ to attend Arizona State University, where I received my MA and PhD in Psychology, working with Dr. Stephen Goldinger. Outside of work I try to remain very active.  I’ve played ice and roller hockey since I was 8 years old, including four years for the University of Pittsburgh, and two seasons for the Phoenix Dragons in the American Inline Hockey League (AIHL). Now, I play just recreational roller hockey. I also enjoy running, cycling, hiking, swimming, and skating. And my favorite thing to do is go on little adventures with my wife, Grisel, and our dog, Penny.  

Penny: lab mascot, designated “Science Dog”, and the best of all of us. She’s the sweetest pup in world, a rescue and mix of cattle dog and pit. She likes long walks, longer naps, cuddles, and making people happy. Her career aspirations include eventually catching a squirrel (to play with, not harm).

Bryan White, PhD student. Bryan is currently a doctoral student who holds a BA in English from the University of New Mexico, an MA in Experimental Psychology, and is an author/coauthor on half a dozen published papers in various psychology journals. He is a student member of the Psychonomic Society, the Human Factors and Ergonomics Society, and NMSU’s Graduate Student Association. When not studying psychology, Bryan is best characterized as an endurance predator of disparate arts and sciences, forever trying to satisfy his rapacious curiosity. His research interests include cognition, human factors and engineering psychology, visuospatial attention, haptics and proprioception, multidimensional scaling and similarity, and psycholinguistics.

Rebecca Penn, PhD student. Rebecca A. Penn is a PhD student who successfully defended her master’s thesis at the start of the spring 2020 semester. Her research interest is on applied instances of unmitigated visual attention and visual search with a particular emphasis on search and rescue. She has two dogs named Leika and Motley. Her website is:

Eben Daggett, PhD student: Eben attended Carroll University in Southeast Wisconsin where he earned a dual B.S. in Biology and Psychology with a minor in Biochemistry. After college, he joined the Army where he served for 8 years. He eventually planted some loose roots in Boulder, Colorado where he works as a data scientist and AI researcher in the medical technology field. His research interests are centered around the role of perceptual similarity in selective attention, connectionist modeling of attentional phenomena like the Attentional Blink and Visual Search, and the utilization of psychometric techniques to increase the interpretability of artificial intelligence. In his free time, he enjoys fly fishing, mountain biking, backpacking and reading. His website is

Sydney Schabacker, PhD student: Sydney is an incoming doctoral student who holds a B.A in Psychology from University of California, Riverside and an M.A. in Psychological Sciences from California State University, San Marcos. Their research interests include categorization of visual objects, understanding how we label visual objects, and how both the way we categorize and label visual objects can impact the memory of those objects as well as inform how we search for them. In their free time, they like to knit blankets, read prodigiously, hang out with family, and is currently learning how to draw with charcoal and make ceramic pots.

Ashley Mathis, Masters student: Ashley grew up in rural Arkansas and has a BA in Psychology from the University of Arkansas at Little Rock. She is interested in studying how we direct and regulate our attention, as well as the reciprocal effects on related functions like perception, memory, and emotion. Outside of work, she loves being outdoors with her family, cross-stitching, video games, fantasy football, and lifting weights. She has two dogs named Odin and Skadi.

Crystal Parra, Discovery Scholars (undergraduate) researcher. Crystal is an undergraduate student working towards double-majoring in Biochemistry and Psychology. After graduating she would like to continue her academics and study neuroscience/cognitive neuroscience and contribute to basic research. School and work keep her pretty busy but when she gets the chance, she steals moments to read classics, fly kites on windy days, take pictures of clouds, and listen to any music her “best friend,” Kendrick Lamar, has put out. Outside of the semesters is when she really gets the chance to enjoy puzzles and cross stitch.

Virginia Millsap, Honors College thesis (undergraduate) researcher. Virginia is an undergraduate student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in psychology and a minor in counseling and educational psychology. After graduating, Virginia plans to pursue a Doctorate in clinical psychology where she hopes to focus on working with children. When she is not in the lab, Virginia likes to spend time with her favorite furry study buddy, Gus, her cat. She also likes to read, hike, cook, ski, and go to the gym in her free time.

Eli Lara, Discovery Scholars (undergraduate) researcher. Eli is a career college student, finally on the path to finishing his first degree in the Spring of 2025 with a B.A. in Psychology after pursuing degrees in Genetics and Computer Science previously. Currently unknown which direction he will go into once graduation passes but he has an interest in both counseling and experimental psychology as a focus in grad school. He hopes to use his time in the lab to get as much experience as he possibly can and learn any skill that might be needed in the future. When not working a shift at his job or studying on campus, he spends his time thinking of new scenarios in Dungeons and Dragons, deck building for Magic the Gathering, or just generally being an entrenched geek of many different interests. Otherwise, you can find him cuddling his cats or taking them on walks through the various wonders of his apartment complex.

Aftab Ahmed, NM-INBRE Summer Experience (NISE undergraduate) researcher. Aftab is a sophomore at St. John’s College in Santa Fe. He is double majoring in History of Mathematical Sciences and Philosophy, and double minoring in Classical Studies and Literature. He is very passionate about learning Traumatology and human development through trauma healing. In his free time, Aftab loves to swim, play instruments, walk in nature, and read Plato.

Paean Luby, Visiting Researcher (from the University of Richmond). Paean (pronounced like “payin’ the bills”), is in the class of 2025 at the University of Richmond. She is also an aspiring virtual and augmented reality software engineer with a hope to eventually impart this experience as a computer science professor. After her grandparents’ deaths from dementia and stroke, she dedicated her schooling to slowing neurodegenerative diseases using digitally simulated enriched environments. She is currently pursuing pre-clinical behavioral neuroscience research in the Lambert Lab with an emphasis on how enriched environments influence vascularization, as well as conducting a machine-learning-based visual search project in Dr. Robbins (an alum of our lab!) Visual Cognition Lab. In her graduate studies, she wants to expand into clinical models of neurodegenerative diseases and virtual reality’s potential as a treatment.


PhD students:

Arryn Robbins, PhD. Arryn received her PhD in 2018. She then moved on to be a post-doctoral researcher at Carthage College. And she currently works as a research psychologist at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Collin Scarince, PhD. Collin received his PhD in 2018. He then went on to become a post-doctoral researcher at Texas A&M Corpus Christi where he is now an Assistant Professor.

Edin Sabic, PhD. Edin received his PhD in 2020. He is currently the Director of Research at Electronic Caregiver.

Masters students:

Casey Tunstall. Casey got her masters degree in 2014. She is now a Human Factors Engineer at INQU LLC.

Ryan Sams. Ryan got his masters degree in 2015. He is now an adjunct faculty member at the University of New Mexico.

Rebecca Skulsky. Becca finished her masters degree in 2021 and is on her way to a job in industry back on the east coast.

Jessica Madrid. Jessica holds a BA and MA in Psychology from New Mexico State University. Her research interests included visual search and the ways that it interacts with memory, the use of cognitive strategies during search, executive control, object recognition, and the use of eye tracking to study these topics. In her free time, she likes to read, cook new recipes, play volleyball, and nap with her cat, Mouse.

Building Research Advances in Neuroscience (BRAiN) student researchers (undergraduate):

Maggie Sabic. Maggie was a Building Research Achievement in Neuroscience (BRAiN) student in our lab and got her bachelor’s degree in 2016.

Julián Welsh. Julian was a Building Research Achievement in Neuroscience (BRAiN) student in our lab and got his bachelor’s degree in 2021.

Discovery Scholars Researchers (undergraduate):

Garrett Bennett. Garrett was the first Discovery Scholars researcher in our lab.

Alexis Lopez. Alexis was a Discovery Scholars researcher in our lab and continued to collaborate with us after she got her bachelor’s degree in 2016.

John Desgeorges. John was a Discovery Scholars student in our lab and got his bachelor’s degree in 2019.

Sydney Luna. Sydney was a Discovery Scholars student in our lab and got her bachelor’s degree in 2019.

Rene Mcpherson. Rene was a Discovery Scholars student in our lab and got his bachelor’s degree in 2019. He is currently a masters student in the Psychology Department at NMSU.

Victoria Arvizu. Victoria was a Discovery Scholars student and got her master’s degree in 2020. She is currently a graduate student in Forensic and Legal Psychology at Marymount University.

Christine Dellefield-Lopez. Christine was a Discovery Scholars student and got her bachelor’s degree in 2020.

Mariana Cazares Rodriguez. Mariana was a Discovery Scholars student and got her bachelor’s degree in 2021.

Jonathan Ayavar. Jonathan is a proud NMSU alumnus who double-majored in 3D Computer Animation, Visual Effects, and Computer Science, and was a Discovery Scholar. He was born and raised in Mexico, but is currently living in El Paso along with the rest of his family. For more than three years, he worked with Dr. Hout and the rest of his team (at the AddisonCare Virtual and Augmented Reality Laboratory) to create virtual simulations for use in cognition research. He graduated with his bachelors and would like to get into the animation industry or the video game industry. After graduating, he was hired on as a Senior Computer Operator. In his free time, he likes to work on his own projects, learn new software, or just sit down in his bed and enjoy a movie. His website is:

Marko Hernandez. Marko received his Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. He will be attending a Master’s program in cognition at Sam Houston State University in Fall 2024, and has aspirations to pursue his Doctorate after that. In the meantime, he continues to collaborate with us on research into threat perception.

Emily Stutesman. Emily received her undergraduate degrees in Kinesiology and Psychology, with a double minor in Chemistry and Biochemistry. She ran cross country and track for NMSU, specializing in long distance events including the 5k and 10k. She continues to collaborate on our medical image perception research, and is currently applying to Physician Assistant schools.

Janelle Hernandez, Discovery Scholars (undergraduate) researcher. Janelle received her bachelor’s degree in psychology with a minor in counseling and educational psychology. She plans to pursue a masters in counseling, but isn’t not sure in what specialty yet. She has interest in child, trauma, family, and relationship counseling and hopes to travel the world throughout her twenties. In her free time she likes to draw, paint, sculpt, etc. (pretty much any artistic medium). She also spends her free time with her dog; they go on walks, play outside, and often take naps together or just relax because he’s a big Rottweiler.

NMSU Honors College undergraduate student researchers:

Emily Green. Emily was an NMSU Honor’s College student in our lab and got her bachelor’s degree in 2018.