Directors of the Cognition, Aging, and Technology Laboratory
Adriana Hughes, PhD
Dr. Adriana Hughes’ interdisciplinary NIH/NIA-funded research focuses on examining the use of sensor digital technologies to detect and monitor cognitive and daily functioning changes in mild
cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease Related
Dementias (AD/ADRD). Her projects include identifying novel digital biomarkers associated with
early cognitive decline and examining relationships between cognitive assessment results and
performance of real-world everyday tasks such as medication adherence, computer and
smartphone use, physical activity, driving, and life-space mobility. Projects also include
developing and testing new and innovative digital health technologies to monitor cognitive
health and to guide personalized treatment recommendations and interventions for older adults
with cognitive impairment. She uses quantitative and qualitative methods in her research,
including remote passive sensor-based activity monitoring, web-based surveys, and cognitive
tests, validated clinical and neuropsychological assessments, semi-structured interviews, and
focus groups. She serves as a faculty mentor and research supervisor to students and trainees
in psychology, neuropsychology, medicine, public health, allied health professions, and
Dr. Hughes is a Staff Neuropsychologist and Clinical Investigator at the Minneapolis VA Health
Care System and is an Affiliate Researcher in the Minneapolis VA Geriatric Education Research
and Clinical Center. At the University of Minnesota, she is an Assistant Professor in the
Department of Psychiatry, an Affiliate Faculty in the Rehabilitation Science Graduate Program,
and an Affiliate Faculty in the Center for Healthy Aging and Innovation in the School of Public
Health. She obtained her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology at Washington State University after
completing a predoctoral internship at the University of California, San Diego / San Diego
Veterans Affairs Medical Center and an NIH/NIA T32 postdoctoral fellowship in Neuropsychology, Aging, and Dementia at the Oregon Health and Science University Alzheimer’s Disease Center.
John Ferguson, PhD
Dr. John Ferguson's research focuses on studying how novel software and sensors can promote healthy aging and rehabilitation. His collaborative, interdisciplinary research projects include developing and testing custom clinical software and sensor systems, machine learning algorithms, rehabilitation-focused video games, and mobile health apps. He uses participatory and user-centered design methods to create practical and accessible technologies for patients, care partners, and clinicians.
Dr. Ferguson is an Associate Professor in the Department of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Minnesota. He received a PhD in Biomedical Engineering from the University of Minnesota, an MPhil from the University of Cambridge, an MSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science, and a BS from the California Institute of Technology. He was also an Innovation Fellow at the Bakken Medical Devices Center at the University of Minnesota.
Anael Kuperwajs Cohen, BA
Anael graduated from Macalester College in 2021 with a BA in computer science and applied mathematics and statistics and a concentration in cognitive science. After graduation, she worked as a postgraduate research assistant at Yale University conducting child development research, focusing on the effect of early childhood mental health consultation and the COVID-19 pandemic on childcare settings. Anael is interested in the intersection of psychology and data science, and is hoping to further pursue this work at the Cognition, Aging, and Technology Lab. In addition to research, Anael enjoys hiking, dancing, and cooking/baking
Claire Mueller, BA
Claire is a recent graduate from St. Olaf College, located in Northfield, MN. She earned her BA in psychology and minored in neuroscience and family studies. Claire is interested in combining her three areas of study to better understand physical, emotional, and cognitive resilience. At St. Olaf, Claire conducted research examining the dual impact of COVID-19 and racial injustices on minoritized family systems and additionally researched how delta-8-THC impacts ethanol consumption in adolescent mice. Claire is passionate about learning about anything psychology-related and is excited to expand upon her knowledge of cognitively based psychological research. Ultimately, Claire hopes to obtain a doctorate in counseling psychology. In her free time, you can find Claire either on a run around the lakes or playing trivia with her friends.
Destiny J. Weaver, BS
An enthusiasm for neuroscience and psychology and a passion for serving others motivates Destiny to pursue clinical psychological research, with the intention of eventually obtaining a doctorate education in clinical psychology that would allow her to merge her passions, while also encouraging those along the way with her representation. Outside of work, Destiny spends most of her time taking long walks, writing, and eating noodles.
Samuel Y. Lee, BS
Sam graduated from the University of Minnesota in 2020 and earned a degree in psychology with a minor in integrative neuroscience. Prior to his involvement with the CAT Lab, Sam worked as a research assistant focusing on racial and cultural socialization in multiracial families and how healthcare utilization differed among diverse groups of people in the Twin Cities. Sam is passionate about working with older adults and finding new ways to promote healthy aging. Outside of work Sam enjoys tinkering with coffee recipes and spending time with loved ones.
Research Assistants and Volunteers
Nina is a student at Macalester College currently majoring in psychology and linguistics. She is interested in working with older adults and marginalized communities and is excited to learn about cognition and aging research in the CAT lab. In her free time, she enjoys listening to audiobooks and taking walks.
Alyssa graduated from The College of St. Scholastica, located in Duluth, MN, in 2023 with her BA in psychology and peace and justice studies, with a minor in biology. At St. Scholastica, Alyssa conducted research studying children's perceptions of race and racism following the murder of George Floyd, as well as how a housing-first initiative can improve mental health in the homeless population. She also completed her thesis looking into human rights violations against individuals with traumatic brain injuries. Alyssa hopes to obtain a doctorate in clinical psychology, and in her free time, you can find Alyssa reading or playing with her dog, Maverick.
Previous Lab Members
Kurt Benckendorf, BSN
Mira Leese | Current Position: PhD student in Clinical Psychology with Neuropsychology concentration at Rosalind Franklin University
Allison Weyer, MA
Kayla Chan | Current Position: Research Assistant at University of Minnesota Twin Cities Department of Neurology
Catherine Ju | Current Position: PhD student in Clinical Psychology at West Virginia University