University of Nevada, Las Vegas


The ACNL Team smiling standing underneath a tree.


Dr. Joel Snyder

Snyder Headshot

Joel Snyder is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV). He began studying perception as an undergraduate at the University of California, San Diego (UCSD), where he did an honor’s thesis on plasticity in the visual system. While at UCSD, Joel was exposed to two excellent courses on music psychology and these inspired him to pursue this area of research. Following his Ph.D. study at Cornell University, he was a post-doctoral fellow at the Rotman Research Institute in Toronto and in the Departments of Psychiatry and Psychology at Harvard University. Along the way, Joel pursued interests in a variety of topics related to auditory perception, which you can read about in his publications.

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Solena Mednicoff

Solena Headshot

Solena Mednicoff(she/her) is a post-doctoral researcher working with Drs. Erin Hannon, Joel Snyder, and Stephen Benning to study misophonia. Her research interests include the neuroscience behind why we enjoy music and how the brain interprets and responds to music. Growing up in Las Vegas, Solena trained as a semi-professional pianist and graduated from the Las Vegas Academy of the Performing Arts. After high school, Solena discovered her passion for science at University of Nevada, Reno where she earned a BS in Neuroscience and minor in piano performance. Solena went on to earn her Ph.D. in Cognitive Sciences, with an emphasis in Cognitive Neuroscience, at UC Irvine where her dissertation examined the cognitive and neural mechanisms of major/minor musical mode processing.

Graduate Students

Karli Nave

Karli Nave Headshot

Karli Nave is a Ph.D. student in Experimental Psychology with a Developmental Emphasis, and she is studying with both Dr. Joel Snyder in the Auditory Cognition and Neuroscience lab and Dr. Erin Hannon in the Auditory Cognition and Development lab. Her current research interests include studying auditory perception and cognition from infancy through adulthood. Specifically, she is currently researching how adults and children perceive beat and meter in music, and how this is evident in listeners’ brain activity. In addition, she is interested in how rhythm perception relates to language abilities in young children. Before attending UNLV, Karli graduated from Michigan State University with a BS in Psychology and a BS in Neuroscience. In her free time, Karli enjoys playing the French Horn, exploring National Parks, rock climbing, and watching Big Ten college football.

Margaret McMullin

Maggie Headshot

Maggie McMullin is a fourth-year graduate student in the Psychological & Brain Sciences PhD program studying with Dr. Joel Snyder in the Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. She received her BS in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin, Parkside where she first discovered her interest in studying auditory perception while working in the lab of Dr. Melissa Gregg. Maggie was recently awarded the Department of Defense National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowship to fund her investigation of how we use high-level knowledge and low-level acoustic properties to perceive, process, and remember complex auditory scenes. In her free time, Maggie enjoys playing classical and electric guitar, hiking, playing softball, and traveling.

Cassandra Doolittle

Cassy hiking, posing near a large rock

Cassy Doolittle (she/her) is a second-year graduate student in the Interdisciplinary Neuroscience program, studying under Dr. Joel Snyder in the Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. Cassy received a BA with Dual Majors in Music and Psychology, and a Minor in Biology from the University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee. As a researcher, Cassy is interested in studying how perceptual cues succeed in creating auditory percepts with attention toward low-level sound features, such as pitch or timbre. Currently, Cassy is excited to be working on a collaborative project with Dr. Colleen Park’s Human Memory Lab, where they will incorporate EEG imaging techniques to explore the differential memory processing mechanisms of recollection and familiarity within the auditory and visual domains. Outside of research, you can find Cassy enjoying strong coffee, eating good food, and planning days full of rock climbing, adventuring, or running.

Grace Wilson

Wilson Headshot

Grace Wilsonis a second-year graduate student in the Experimental Psychology program studying under Dr. Snyder as a member of the Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. She is originally from Boston, Massachusetts, where she received a B.S. in Neuroscience and Behavior from Simmons University in May 2020, with a double major in Music History. Grace’s previous research includes an undergraduate thesis paper that examined the neuropsychological effects of personalized music listening on older adults. At UNLV, they will be researching the relationship between auditory and motor areas and musical groove using EEG and TMS. Outside of their research, Grace enjoys traveling, reading, playing trombone and ukulele, and can often be found listening to music, wandering an art museum, and attending the symphony or a concert in her spare time.

Post-Baccalaureate Students

Ambar Monjaras

Ambar Monjaras Headshot

Ambar Monjaras majored in psychology and minored in neuroscience at UNLV, and completed an honors thesis project in the ACNL. She plans to attend medical school to begin her training as a pediatrician with a focus in neurodevelopmental disorders. She enjoys learning about the functions of the brain and how they affect behavior. When she has the time to relax, Ambar likes to spend time with her friends and family, as well as watching movies and playing the piano.

Mary Sanchez

Chastity Balagtas

Chastity holds a small white dog

Chastity Balagtasis a recent graduate from Temple University’s Japan Campus (Tokyo), with a major in psychology and a minor in Japanese. Although originally from Alaska, she is also an alumni from the Las Vegas Academy of the Performing Arts with a major in orchestra (violin). Chastity’s research interest include investigating the affects of music on cognition and perception, as well as auditory illusions and their implications such as the Speech-to-Song illusion. She plans on pursing a PhD in the Psychological and Brain Sciences with an emphasis in neuroscience. When her face is not in a book, she likes to play the violin, piano, guitar, cuddle with her dog Misty, and cook Japanese food that she learned while in Japan.

Sienna Susko

Sienna Susko photo

Sienna Susko majored in kinesiology at SUNY Brockport. She plans to pursue a PhD in neuroscience through UNLV after volunteering as a research assistant for Dr. Snyder’s Auditory Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. She is originally from Syracuse, New York, and enjoys all things athletic. Her hobbies include tennis, pickle-ball, and golf. She is motivated to one day make discoveries while studying the mind-body connection.

Undergraduate Students

  • Joshua Maranon
  • Laura Garcia
  • Eden Thiess


Post-Doctoral Students

Graduate Students