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Bruce McCandliss, PhD






Head of the Educational Neuroscience Initiative | Professor of Education and, by courtesy, of Psychology

Bruce McCandliss, Ph.D.


Bruce McCandliss, PhD, is the head of the Educational Neuroscience Initiative at Stanford University where he is a professor in the Graduate School of Education and the Department of Psychology (by courtesy).  His research uses the tools of developmental cognitive neuroscience to study individual differences and educational transformations in key cognitive skills such as attention, literacy, and mathematics. After earning his PhD at the University of Oregon in Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience under the mentorship of Michael Posner, he pursued postdoctoral training in neuroimaging at the University of Pittsburgh and Carnegie Mellon University.  In 1999, he became an Assistant Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry at the Weill Medical College of Cornell University, where he was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award in Science and Engineering (PECASE) for his work in linking early literacy interventions to brain mechanisms.  In 2009, he accepted an endowed professorship — the Patricia and Rodes Hart Chair of Psychology and Human Development— at Vanderbilt University. In 2014, he accepted full professorship at Stanford University where in 2018, he launched the Educational Neuroscience Initiative which endeavors to bring together elementary school education and neuroscience research to understand how the brain changes with learning.

Liz Toomarian, PhD

Liz Toomarian, Ph.D.




Director of the Stanford-Synapse Brainwave Learning Center

Liz Toomarian, PhD, is the Director of the Brainwave Learning Center at Synapse School. Liz has always loved being in school environments, both as a learner and an instructor, and is thrilled to be a part of the Educational Neuroscience Initiative. As an educational neuroscientist, she strives to bring together neuroscience researchers with educational practitioners to better understand and improve the learning process. Liz earned a BS in Cognitive Science/Neuroscience from University of California San Diego and a PhD in Educational Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she taught the undergraduate course “Mind, Brain and Education.” Her doctoral research focused on numerical understanding, spatial thinking, and how the brain develops associations between numbers and space. Since moving from Wisconsin, Liz has been enjoying the beautiful California weather. She enjoys exploring state and national parks and trying out new recipes.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Fang Wang, PhD

Postdoctoral Researcher

Graduate Students

Trang Nguyen

PhD Student, Graduate School of Education


Lindsey Hasak

Lindsey Hasak

PhD Student, Graduate School of Education

Lindsey Hasak is a second-year graduate student in the Developmental and Psychological Sciences Program and a Stanford Bio-X Fellow. Lindsey received her B.S. in Psychology - Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience and a B.A. in English from the University of Florida, combining her interest in cognitive neuroscience with her love of reading. She is delighted to further explore these interests as part of the Educational Neuroscience Initiative and help create meaningful connections between researchers, students, and teachers. In her free time, Lindsey enjoys hiking all around the Bay Area and impressing people with her knowledge of Hamilton.



Ethan Roy

PhD Student, Graduate School of Education


Angie Wang

Angie Wang, B.S.







Research Coordinator

Angie Wang is Research Coordinator of the Educational Neuroscience Initiative. Angie received her B.S. in Cognitive Science at UC San Diego, where she focused on cognitive electrophysiology and psycholinguistics research in two labs. She also worked as a tutor at the UCSD Writing Center, which sparked her interest in education. Angie is excited to be working at the crossroads of neuroscience and education at Stanford, where she can not only continue being a part of electrophysiology research, but also help to bring this research experience into local schools. In her free time, Angie likes to play soccer and practice drawing.



Cha Cha Pillai

Cha Cha Pillai, B.S.






Brainwave Learning Center Research & Program Coordinator

Cha Cha Pillai is the Research and Program Coordinator of the Brainwave Learning Center at Synapse School. As a Stanford neuroscience researcher and Synapse educator she is excited to support kids see their own brains at work and develop a deeper more intentional relationship with their mind and body. Cha Cha received her degree in the Neurobiology of Identity through the Human Biology department at Stanford University. At Stanford, Cha Cha taught “Peer Counseling on Comprehensive Sexual Health.” As a 24/7 residential health educator and wellness specialist she supported individuals in building their personal frameworks for flourishing. Cha Cha spends her free time doing yoga, making people dance with her funky synths and drum kits, and record digging.


Kristin Barklund

Program Coordinator

Research Assistants

David Shacklette

2nd Year Master's, Symbolic Systems


Caity McGinley

3rd Year Undergraduate, Human Biology - Neuroscience