Hello! My name is Sam Ayele. I study cognitive, computational, and social neuroscience at IMT School for Advanced Studies Lucca. I got my bachelor of science in cognitive science and bachelor of art in  philosophy at the University of California, Santa Cruz. I research the cognitive and emotional basis of internet memes . I've done work in logic, philosophy of language, conversational analysis and more! I was born and raised in Ethiopia and love learning about humans and their minds. Welcome to my website. 



IMT Lucca

Lucca, Italy

November 2020-June 2024

- Full- funded PhD student in cognitive, computational, and social neuroscience

-Research on the emotions of internet memes 

-Coursework in fMRI, EEG, evolutionary game theory, computational brain anatomy, and network theory

University of California, Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, CA

September 2016- March 2020

-Bachelor of Science in Cognitive Science

 -Graduated with highest honors in the psychology department

-Coursework in psycholinguistics, cognitive neuroscience, human-computer interaction, and python

-Cognitive Science Capstone: What's So Funny?: The Relationship Between Conversational Laughter and Feelings of Comfort

University of California, Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, CA

September 2016- March 2020

-Bachelor of Arts in Philosophy 

-Graduated with highest honors in the philosophy department

-Coursework in philosophy of mind, intermediate logic, and philosophy of religion

-Thesis: One Does Not Simply Define Memes: A Prototypical Theory to Understanding Internet Memes

-Advised by Dr. Nico Orlandi

University College Maastricht

Maastricht, Netherlands

January 2019-June 2019

-Spring 2019 Exchange Program

-3.75 GPA

-Courses in Philosophy of Language, Philosophy of Science, Game Theory, and Personality Psychology


Awards & Recognition 

Chancellor's Award for Undergraduate Research

May 2020

-Fifteen Chancellor’s Awards are granted to the most outstanding top three theses or projects from each division's Deans' Awardees. Each Chancellor's Award project will receive $500.

Dean's Award for Undergraduate Research

May 2020

-Dean's Awards are granted to fifty of the most excellent undergraduate research theses or projects (ten from each academic division) completed at UCSC during the academic year. Each Dean's award project will receive $100 for outstanding achievement in their division.

21st Leonardo Da Vinci Scholar

Spring 2019

-Da Vinci scholars are graduates who have doubled majored in a social science (Cognitive Science) and in a field outside of social science (Philosophy) while maintaining an overall 3.8 GPA at the time of graduation.

Dean's Honors List

Fall, Winter, Spring 2016. Fall, Winter, Spring 2017. Winter, Spring 2018. Fall 2020

-Academic distinction of high scholarship within the UCSC community

UCEAP Promise Scholarship

Spring 2019

- $2,000 study abroad scholarship based on academic merit and under-representation

College Nine Travel Scholarship 

Spring 2019

- $1,000 study abroad scholarship based on academic merit, college affiliation, and under-representation



Mock Trial at UCSC

September 2016- Present 

-Preformed as an attorney and witness in a new case each year

-Social Media and Communications manager

Cognitive Science Student Association 

September 2016-Present

An active member of cognitive science club that discusses cognitive science classes, hosts open lab nights, and special presentations from cognitive science professors

Carnegie Mellon Logic and Formal Epistemology Summer School

June 2019

- Participated in a three-week summer program dedicated to formal philosophy, mathematics, and computer science -Worked with formal verification programs like Lean

-Measured uncertainty and knowledge with topology

-Used statistical algorithms to infer causality and prediction

UCM Film Club

January-June 2019

-Acted in and helped produce a student film

The Cove UCSC

July 2018- December 2018

-Volunteered for a drug and alcohol-free community space on campus

-Provided a safe space for students committed to their recovery from alcohol and/or other drugs or are the loved one of someone with an addiction


Research Projects

March 2020

Philosophy Senior Thesis

March 2020

Philosophy Senior Seminar Paper

December 2019

Human Factors Term Paper

December 2019

Cognitive Science Senior Capstone

November 2019

Symposium for Undergraduate Research at UCSC

May 2019

Philosophy of Science Final Paper

May 2019

Philosophy of Science Midterm Paper

March 2019

Kalopsia Student Philosophy Journal at UCSC

December 2018

Logic and Computer Science Term Paper