About me

I’m an academic philosopher who works on perception. My research focus is on perceptual experience (phenomenal consciousness), how it connects us to the world, and how it relates to the neural activity in our heads. I draw on work from neuroscience, cognitive psychology, and philosophy to investigate these topics.

Currently I’m a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Network for Sensory Research in the Department of Philosophy, University of Toronto Mississauga. In that position I work with Mohan Matthen. I completed my Ph.D. in philosophy at Rice University in 2015, working under Casey O’Callaghan. I grew up in a small town in southeast Pennsylvania, about an hour northwest of Philadelphia, before moving to Houston for my Ph.D. I currently live in Mississauga, Ontario.

My Research

Is our perceptual experience merely a neural representation constructed in the head? How is it that conscious perception of an item allows us to select that item for thought or refer to it? When we hallucinate and dream, what is it that we are experiencing? What must it be like for you, as you interact with a distal bit of the world through your sensory systems, in order for your experience to be an experience of that thing?

These are the main questions around which my research is organized. In my work I’ve argued that we sometimes perceive consciously things not represented by our sensory systems in the head, that perceptual experience enables thought about the world by making perceived items available for attention, that hallucinations and dreams are at least sometimes awareness of past-perceived bits of the world, and that what it’s like as you sensorily interact with an object must enable demonstrative thought if it’s to be an experience of that object.

Based in part on these answers, I’m developing a hybrid view on which perceptual experience has both relational and representational components. Perceptual experience is constituted by both the distal stimuli with which we interact through our sensory systems and the representational content of the resulting neural states. I think this model best explains (1) the evidence suggesting that experience can outstrip sensory neural representation, (2) how experience affords demonstrative thought, and (3) illusions, hallucinations, dreams, and the tight dependence of experience on sensory neural activity.

Teaching

  • Lebanon Valley College (2018)
    • Phl 110: The Examined Life (w/ online component)
  • Kutztown University of Pennsylvania (2016-17)
    • Phi 280: American Philosophy: Pragmatism
    • Phi 235: Topics in Moral Theory: Virtue Ethics
    • Phi 030: Introduction to Philosophy
  • Lone Star College, University Park & Tomball (2016)
    • Phil 1301: Introduction to Philosophy (online and traditional classroom)
  • Rice University (2014-15)
    • Fwis 129: Objectivity in Perception (first-year writing-intensive seminar)
    • Phil 106: Logic
  • Lone Star College, North Harris (2011-12)
    • Phil 1301: Introduction to Philosophy
    • Phil 2306: Introduction to Ethics
  • Houston Community College, Katy (2011)
    • Phil 2303: Symbolic Logic
    • Phil 1301: Introduction to Philosophy