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Education Committee

Mission statement

The Education Committee of the fNIRS Society was formed after the 2016 Paris meeting. The mission of the Education Committee is to support the training of the next generation of fNIRS researchers and the continued methodological advancement of all our members. To this end, we will organize our own training sessions and promote other educational materials. These trainings and materials will be related to the use, applications, data analysis and interpretation of fNIRS techniques. Across these topics, we will particularly focus on trainings that advance the sensitivity, rigor and reproducibility of fNIRS and that support the connection and communication within our vibrant researcher community. We will constantly evolve our offerings to best suit the needs of our community and will offer trainings in a number of different forms (as part of our biennial conference and outside of that time, in person and virtually). We will also work alongside the DEI committee to provide equitable training to increase access in populations of researchers who have been historically under-represented in this field. We also pledge to support diverse voices in those who are leading the training(s) and promote inclusion with regards to which methodological skills and approaches are valued.


Members of the SfNIRS Educational Committee

Judit Gervain, Chair, is Full Professor at the Department of Developmental and Social Psychology of the University of Padua, Italy as well as a Senior Research Scientist at the CNRS, Paris, France. She is trained as a theoretical linguist and obtained her Ph.D. in 2002 in Cognitive Neuroscience under the mentorship of Jacques Mehler from SISSA, Trieste, Italy. She then worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. In 2009, she took up a research position at the CNRS, in Paris, France, from which she moved to the University of Padua in 2020. She currently has an ERC Consolidator grant investigating the neural basis of language development using NIRS, EEG and behavioral techniques. She is an associate editor at Neurophotonics, Developmental Science and Cognition. She was the local organizer of the 2016 meeting of the Society for fNIRS held in Paris, and since then she has served on the Board and has been the Chair of the Education Committee of the Society.


Rickson Mesquita, Co-chair, is Associate Professor at the Institute of Physics of the University of Campinas (UNICAMP) and researcher at the Brazilian Institute of Neuroscience and Neurotechnology (BRAINN), Brazil. He graduated in Physics at UNICAMP and obtained his Ph.D. in Science at the same University. He was also a research scholar at the Massachusetts General Hospital and a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, USA. He was a pioneer in diffuse optics for neuroscience applications. in Brazil and Latin America. He currently leads the Biomedical Optics Lab at UNICAMP,   with research interests focused on designing new instrumentation and developing innovative methods for diffuse optics (both fNIRS and DCS) in biological tissue.


Silvia Benavides-Varela is an Assistant Professor at Padua University in Italy. She completed her trainings as biotechnology engineer in Costa Rica and obtained a PhD. in Neuroscience from SISSA, Italy. She then worked as a post-doctoral researcher at the IRCSS San Camillo Hospital in Venice, and the Laboratoire Psychologie de la Perception (CNRS & Université Paris Descartes), in Paris, France. Her research focuses on developing new methods for unveiling the initial state of memory capacities in humans, the environmental factors that modulate learning, and the properties of the brain systems that support language and mathematic achievements across the lifespan. She has used a range of neuroimaging techniques, including fNIRS, in combination with behavioral metrics and analyses, both in healthy and in clinical populations. She is a member of the Education Committee of the Society since 2017.


Sarah Lloyd-Fox is a Senior Research Associate at the University of Cambridge and lead investigator on the inter-disciplinary Brain Imaging for Global Health (BRIGHT) Study (www.globalfnirs.org), the Perinatal Imaging in Partnership with Families (PIPKIN) study (www.pipkinstudy.com) and the COVID in the Context of Pregnancy, Infancy and Parenting (CoCoPIP) Study (www.pipkinstudy.com/covid), funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and a UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship. Her research focuses on the investigation of core early cognitive and neural mechanisms in infancy. Following 15 years optimising functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) for use with developmental populations, a major focus of her work is to develop field-friendly neuroimaging (fNIRS and EEG) and behavioural toolkits for use in low income, global health and home/community settings. She obtained a PhD in Developmental Neuroscience in 2011 under the mentorship of Professors Clare Elwell and Mark Johnson. She then worked as a postdoctoral researcher at Birkbeck, University of London. In 2019 she took up a research associate position at the University of Cambridge. Due to the interdisciplinary nature of her work, she holds Honorary Research Associate positions in the Department of Psychological Sciences at Birkbeck, University of London and the Department of Medical Physics and Biomedical Engineering at UCL. She has led several internationally attended fNIRS Training Courses, served on the fNIRS Society Communications Committee and currently serves on the Education Committee.


Yasuyo Minagawa is a professor of the Department of Psychology at Keio University. She received her Ph.D. in medicine from the University of Tokyo in 2000. Her research examines the development of perception and cognition with a focus on language acquisition and social cognition in infants. To reveal the neural substrates underlying such development, she has applied fNIRS to typically and atypically developing infants. This application extends to real-world measurement such as mother-infant hyperscanning.


Hellmuth Obrig is a neurologist and holds a professorship at the University Hospital and Medical Faculty of the University Leipzig. He heads the Clinic for Cognitive Neurology and is a group leader at the Department of Neurology at the Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive and Brain Sciences in Leipzig. He started his scientific work at the Charité Berlin, performing some of the first functional activation studies with NIRS. The focus was on the basics of rCBF-based neuro-imaging and neurovascular coupling. Spurred by a EU-grant on linguistic and cognitive development in infants the group performed a number of studies in infants inquiring in aspects of language acquisition. In Leipzig he started work on aphasia and is currently the head of the German Aphasia Society. In cooperation with colleagues from the MPI-CBS and other institutions, he still cooperates on studies in infants using the combination of fNIRS and EEG.


Lauren Emberson is a developmental cognitive neuroscientist at the University of British Columbia (rank Assistant Professor). She obtained her PhD from Cornell University in 2012, completed a postdoctoral position at the University of Rochester with Dr. Richard Aslin in 2015 and moved to her first professorship at Princeton University before coming to UBC in 2021. Prof Emberon’s research uses fNIRS to study how infants learn and perceive the world around them (and how these processes change with development). Prof Emberson is dedicated to increasing the accessibility and rigor of developmental fNIRS to the research world through education and outreach and in increasing diversity within the research world (racially, socio-economically, geographically) through greater inclusion and equity.