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Jake S

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of Illinois at Chicago


Philosophy of Science, Mind, and Cognitive Science; Neuroscience and Psychology Projects, especially in perception; History of Philosophy; Creative Fiction and Nonfiction


Hello! I am Jake Spinella, a Ph.D. student in philosophy at the University of Illinois--Chicago. I work primarily in the philosophy of science--especially the philosophy of mind, cognitive science, and perception. My in-progress dissertation concerns itself with thinking through the difference between perceiving and thinking, and what this difference means for the study of the mind, both in philosophy and in the mind sciences. My academic passions vary, encompassing not just science and philosophy but also literature, history and mathematics. My personal interests and hobbies include: playing and watching basketball, sports analytics, dining out, playing video games, and reading literary fiction and nonfiction.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

What Can fMRI Tell Us About the Brain?

In the mind sciences, the use of fMRI in research is ubiquitous. Not only is it a noninvasive and fairly cost-effective research technique, but it allows us to see large scale functional connectivity between brain regions whose observation would escape more invasive techniques. On the other hand, fMRI suffers from numerous issues in collecting and interpreting the data it generates. In this project, we can explore how fMRI works in detail, generating a paper at the end that explores, in philosophical and scientific detail, the epistemology and methodology of fMRI research with an eye towards evaluating currently existing fMRI studies.

Teaching experience

I have taught courses at the university level for over 5 years. I have both TA'ed and solo-taught these courses. I have unofficial mentoring experience helping interested undergraduates with aptitude in applying to graduate school as well. I also have extensive editing experience, both personally and for others.


Work experience

University of Illinois--Chicago (2019 - Current)
Georgia State University (2017 - 2019)


University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill)
BA Bachelor of Arts (2016)
Georgia State University
MA Master of Arts (2019)
University of Illinois at Chicago
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate

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