people

Michael Schutz, Ph.D is the lab’s founding director and a core member of the McMaster Institute for Music and the Mind. Drawing upon his unique background as a professional percussionist (BMA, MM), as well as his training in experimental psychology (MA, PhD), and computer science (BS), he explores core issues of music cognition from new points of view. He enjoys helping students acquire research skills by actively exploring novel topics relevant to psychologists, musicians, and neuroscientists alike. He is co-founder (with Fabrice Marandola) of the Canadian Percussion Network, connecting percussionists from across the country by building bridges between research and performance.  For additional information read his biography or view recent TV and radio appearances. For more information on percussion activities (including performing and teaching), visit his youtube channel or his website: www.michaelschutz.com.

Cam Anderson, M.Sc is long-standing member of our lab who is now a third-year Ph.D student exploring changes in musical emotion over historical eras. This project builds on his background in both music cognition and music theory, and will provide a novel look at the complex process of transmitting emotion from composer to performer to listener. He previously completed a Bachelor of Music with a specialization in Music Cognition, working on the auditory alarms project. Outside of the lab, Cam spends his free time practicing trombone, composing music, and learning Spanish.

Andres Elizondo Lopez is a second-year PhD student working on our Auditory Alarms project. Andy recently completed his B.Sc (’21) in Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour specializing in Music Cognition. He has a deep curiosity and appreciation of how we interpret musical qualities, and how we process auditory information from our environment. He has been part of the McMaster University’s Concert Band, Percussion Ensemble, and the Marching Band. Andres is a percussionist, and also plays the piano and the guitar. He is very excited to be able to combine his love of psychology and music in the MAPLE Lab, and to contribute to the music cognition scientific community.

Konrad Swierczek is a PhD candidate working on the Emotional Piano Project. He holds a Bachelor of Music (specialization, Music Cognition) from McMaster University where he studied Jazz Double Bass with Clark Johnston and completed a thesis under the supervision of Matthew Woolhouse. His research focuses on music information retrieval and musical corpus analysis across historical periods. Konrad is an active performer and audio engineer in southern Ontario and is the Digital Media Manager for the Canadian Chopin Society.

Connor Wessel is a second-year PhD student on the Auditory Alarms project. He undertook his Bachelors and Masters degrees in Psychology at the University of Plymouth in England. His research focuses on how auditory alarms can be made to be more localisable, and how different levels of urgency can be more discriminable. He recently studied whether newly designed alarms are detrimental to performance on cognitive tasks (and vice versa), and whether digital bike bells can improve the safety and experience of cyclists and pedestrians. As a musician, Connor has played trumpet in Concert band and Orchestra, and has sung Tenor in various choral activities. 

Jackie Zhou  is a first-year M.Sc student currently working in the MAPLE Lab on the Emotional Piano Project. She has passions in both music and mental health. Growing up, she fell in love with music through playing the piano and violin. This past year, she started working with kids on the autism spectrum, providing IBI and integrating music in their day to day lives. It’s been rewarding for her to get to experience the bridging of both of her interests together. She is excited to continue using her musical background to contribute and work with the amazing team for another year!

Julie Park is our lab manager. She recently graduated with a B.Sc in Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour, specializing in Music Cognition. According to her parents, ever since she could speak Julie has loved to sing and dance. Julie started playing violin at the age of 5 and enjoys playing in intimate chamber groups as well as large ensembles like the McMaster Symphony Orchestra as principal violist. In her spare time, Julie likes to arrange K-pop songs for string ensembles. Julie is very curious about the cognitive processes that occur during music perception and music making. She is excited to explore her interests among the great researchers at the MAPLE Lab!

Maya Mattar (Thesis) is a fourth-year student. She grew up learning piano from her father and played in several bands as a percussionist and trumpet player. Maya is curious about the ways in which neural and cognitive processes intersect with musical elements such as rhythm and form, and how these elements contribute to music’s therapeutic benefit in the management of neurologic disorders. Maya is eager to debut in the field of music cognition and develop her research skills as a member of the MAPLE Lab’s Auditory Alarms team. 

Aditi Shukla (Thesis) is a fourth-year Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour student specializing in Music Cognition. Her love for listening to music started as soon as she heard her first piece, and her love for playing music started as soon as she picked up her first instrument. When she’s not playing her flute or lyre, she’s likely to have her head buried in a book. Aditi is incredibly excited to work with amazing team members who are passionate about music cognition. She especially looks forward to working on the Emotional Piano project and pursuing future research in the field!

Cindy Zhang (Thesis) is a fourth-year Health Sciences student currently working on the auditory alarms project. She is investigating the history of auditory alarms and how they have evolved (or not evolved) into how they sound today. She was part of the McMaster Percussion Ensemble and is currently in the Marching Band. One day, she hopes to use her passion for music to make a difference in the medical community. She is excited to continue her project in the MAPLE Lab this year!

Sarah Abdellateef is a third-year student in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour. She is passionate about mental health and is interested in exploring how music interacts with our psychology and physiology. Music has been a significant part of her life in the past couple of years, and she hopes to gain more knowledge about its overall impact through the MAPLE Lab. She also enjoys other forms of art such as writing and painting.

Jessica Agbolade, currently a third-year student in the Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour department, honed her passion for music and the arts during four years at an arts high school specializing in Dramatic Arts. At McMaster, Jessica continued her artistic journey by participating in the MacSci musical, supporting music concerts and securing a role in the 2024 AfroFest production. Beyond her artistic pursuits, she is fascinated by the science of learning and aims to explore innovative ways of integrating music into education. Some fun facts about Jessica are that she is a food/recipe content creator on social media and loves shojou anime. Her dynamic blend of arts and academia reflects her commitment to contributing meaningfully to the intersection of psychology, neuroscience and the transformative power of music.

Ben Baker is a third-year student in the Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour program at McMaster University specializing in Music Cognition. His love for everything psychology brought him to McMaster, and his passion for listening to and playing music has found him a home in Music Cognition. In his free time, he plays the piano and the electric guitar and enjoys learning about ancient cultures and history. Ben is interested in researching the connections between music and our emotions, but he is mainly excited about joining the incredible team working at the MAPLE Lab!

Claire Chen is a third-year student in the Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour program at McMaster University. Her passion for music began at a young age when her grandmother taught her how to play piano. Growing up, Claire sang in many choirs, performed in band ensembles and many musical performances. She is currently a second soprano in the McMaster Cantemus Ensemble. In her free time, Claire enjoys listening to musical soundtracks and playing the guitar. She is very excited to begin working with the MAPLE Lab to combine her love for music and the arts with her passion to learn.

Cindy He is a third-year student in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour, specializing in Music Cognition. She plays piano, trombone, and percussion, and is part of various music ensembles, including McMaster’s Concert Band and Percussion Ensemble. Outside of music, Cindy enjoys playing bridge (the card game) and competes internationally. Another fun fact is that Cindy’s favourite animals are ducks. Cindy is excited to continue exploring the field of Music Cognition with the MAPLE Lab!

Rainata Vania Hemawani is a third-year student under Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour (Music Cognition Specialization). She has passion in both the brain and performing arts, which made her interested in contributing in research related to psychology and music. She has been playing the guitar ever since middle school. Her aim is to pursue psychology in the clinical field and to integrate this with music. While being a part of MAPLE Lab, she is excited to learn how sound can impact and form our perception and emotion.

Julianne Heitelman is a third-year PNB student specializing in music cognition. She grew up playing the piano but also loves to play electric guitar and band instruments. Julianne is very excited to join the MAPLE lab as a QQ student and further develop her research skills. Some fun facts about Julianne are that she is interested in film score analysis and is a member of the McMaster Equestrian team!

Aaliyah Kapadia is a fifth-year Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behaviour student at McMaster. She has a strong passion for music and while she mostly plays the flute and piano, she also has some skills on the guitar, bass, drums, and saxophone. When she started studying psychology, she had an immediate interest in combining the mind and music. As such, Aaliyah’s research interests include the neuroscience of the arts, human cognition, and auditory processes. She hopes to learn a lot from the MAPLE Lab and explore her interests with all their amazing researchers! 

Amy Lau is a third-year Psychology, Neuroscience & Behavior student specializing in Music Cognition. She is very excited to learn more about the intersection between music and cognition. Amy has played the piano since the age of five and has a strong appreciation for classical music. She completed her ARCT in Piano Performance from the RCM and continues to study piano to further her skills. When she is not studying, Amy enjoys reading, spending time outdoors, and 3D modelling. She is also currently learning to play the clarinet.

Fadi Mansour is enrolled in the Music Cognition specialization (PNB), who first fell in love with music when picking up a guitar 12 years ago. Since then, Fadi has fallen in love with music more and more each day, especially when he played a variety of instruments in high school and guest conducted at school concerts. Fadi is thrilled to be working with the amazing team here at the MAPLE Lab on the Auditory Alarms project in hopes to further improve the quality of healthcare in Canada (and hopefully internationally)!

Olivia McIsaac is a third year student pursuing a BSc in Music (Music Cognition Specialization) in the School of the Arts and minoring in English and cultural studies. She started playing guitar at the age of six and has yet to find an instrument she doesn’t love. She has been involved in a number ensembles over the years and enjoys volunteering in high school music classrooms in her spare time. She currently plays double bass at McMaster but is more often seen with PlayStation controllers and fidget toys in her hand! 

Efe Momodu is a third-year Psychology, Neuroscience, and Behaviour student specializing in Music Cognition. Her love for music started in elementary school when she started playing the violin. Since then, she has continued to play in several school ensembles. She has also recently taken up the guitar. In her spare time, Efe loves listening to music while making art. Efe is very excited to join the MAPLE Lab where she will be able to explore her interests in both music and psychology. 

Madeleine Monson is a fourth-year B. Music student specializing in Music Cognition. She began singing and playing the piano at the age of 5. Since then, Madeleine has enjoyed performing in a range of capacities, including in choir ensembles and as a soloist. She has additionally developed a passion for teaching music to children who share her enthusiasm. During her time at McMaster, Madeleine has grown increasingly interested in the interconnectedness of music and psychology. She is looking forward to joining the MAPLE Lab where she will have the opportunity to explore the fascinating ways in which these aspects intersect.

Ava Paidar is a third-year student at McMaster in the PNB program specializing in music cognition. She has played piano since she was 6 years old and achieved up to level 10 of RCM. Music has always been a huge part of her life. She enjoys all genres including rap, jazz, and classical. She never imagined incorporating music and her desire to study psychology. Her interest in music cognition has grown over the past couple of years, drawing her to the MAPLE Lab. Her main interest is how music can cause physiological responses in people. Ava is looking forward to working on the Alarms Project!

Aksharaa Ray is a third-year student in the Psychology, Neuroscience and Behaviour program specializing in Music Cognition. Music has always been a medium through which she experiences and expresses emotions. She is interested in how certain qualities of music elicit emotional responses in individuals. In particular, she is interested in the neural processes that occur during emotional responses to music. In her free time, she likes to play piano, read books, and play video games! Aksharaa is excited to develop her research skills and learn from the talented researchers at MAPLE lab.

Rasam Zakeri, currently in his fourth year of the Honors Neuroscience program, has cultivated a profound interest in music from a young age. This enthusiasm initially manifested at the age of 12, when he began playing the congas, and later expanded to include other percussion instruments like the drums and cajon during his high school years. Later on, his fascination with the complexities of the human brain steered him towards pursuing neuroscience at McMaster University. The opportunity to join the MAPLE Lab was a pivotal moment for Rasam, allowing him to combine his passions for music and neuroscience. He is excited to be working on the Auditory Alarms project with an outstanding team of researchers at the MAPLE Lab, aiming to contribute to the
enhancement of technologies and equipment used in healthcare settings.