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Summary

My Ph.D. work revolved around the investigation of computational models underlying the perception of one's own body, particularly the processes of integration that determine whether or not to combine visual and tactile information. I have also data-mined fMRI, EEG, and human intracranial data and have taught myself Android and Javascript programming along the way.

Education

20122016

Ph.D. in Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience with Computational Cognition

University of California, Los Angeles, USA
20102012

M.A. in Psychology in Cognitive Neuroscience

University of California, Los Angeles, USA
20062010

M.Eng. in Biochemical Engineering with Bioprocess Management

University College London, UK

Publications

    • Ziari, N., Wong, A., Samad, M., Maoz, U. (in prep). Does Reported Decision Time Depend on Motivational Factors?
    • Samad, M., Sita, K., Wang, A., Shams, L. (in prep). Bayesian Causal Inference Model Toolbox.
    • Samad, M., Hellemann, G., Khalsa, S., Shams, L., Feusner, J. (submitted). Disturbed eating and body dysmorphic symptoms in a nonclinical sample are related but separable constructs. 
    • Samad, M., Shams, L. (submitted). Recalibrating the Body: Visuotactile Ventriloquism Aftereffect. 
    • Samad, M., Shams, L. (2016). Visual-Somatotopic Interactions in Spatial Perception. NeuroReport.
    • Samad, M., Chung, A., Shams, L. (2015). Perception of Body Ownership is Driven by Bayesian Sensory Inference. PLOS ONE.

Conference Presentations

    • Society for Neuroscience (2016 poster). Recalibrating the body: a visuotactile ventriloquist aftereffect.
    • Society for Neuroscience (2016 poster). Timing the onset of the decision to move in arbitrary and deliberate decisions.
    • International Multisensory Research Forum (2015 talk). A Visuotactile Ventriloquist Illusion.
    • UCLA Neuroscience Poster Session (2013 poster). Towards a Computational Account of  the Rubber Hand Illusion. 
    • Society for Neuroscience (2013 poster). Towards a Computational Account of the Rubber Hand Illusion. 
    • Joint Symposium on Neural Computation (2013 poster). The Rubber Hand Illusion as Bayesian Causal Inference.
    • Vision Sciences Society (2012 poster). Tactile Stimulation Is Not a Necessary Condition for  theRubber Hand Illusion.

Awards

    • 2016: NSF Informal Science Education Supplement 
    • 2013: Brain Research Institute Neuroscience Graduate Travel Award
    • Summers of 2011 & 2012: UCLA Graduate Summer Research Mentorship Fellowship
    • 2011: UCLA Distinguished University Fellowship

Work History

Feb. 2017present

Research Associate

Oculus Research, Redmond, WA
JulyOctober 2016

Research Internship

Oculus Research, Redmond, WA

Conducted two projects aimed at understanding the perceptual aspects of virtual reality. 

Aug 2015April 2016

SAT Math Tutor

Acceso Academy, Los Angeles, CA

Taught underprivileged students SAT-level mathematics and test-taking skills.

Code

    • Bayesian Causal Inference Toolbox: a Matlab toolbox under development with the guidance of my advisor Ladan Shams and the aid of my research assistant Anni Wang, to build an intuition about the way the model works as well as to provide a model fitting option to help researchers to easily adopt this framework.

Skills

Statistical Modeling

High proficiency with the use of MATLAB and R for implementing statistical models, running simulations, and parameter fitting to collected data. 

Statistical Analysis

High proficiency with R and SPSS for statistical analyses. 

Programming Languages

High proficiency with MATLAB

Moderate to high proficiency with R, Python, Javascript, C++,  Android, and Java

Certifications

Dec 2016Jan 2017

Probabilistic Graphical Models 1: Representation, taught by Daphne Koller

Stanford Online
Jul 2015Aug 2015

Introduction to Databases

Stanford Online
Jan 2014Mar 2014

Computational Neuroscience, taught by R. Ro and A. Fairhall

Coursera Inc.
Oct 2013Dec 2013

Machine Learning, taught by Andrew Ng

Coursera Inc.
Jul 2013Sep 2013

Coding the Matrix: Linear Algebra through Computer Science Applications, taught by Philip Klein

Coursera Inc.

Mentoring

UCLA Undergraduate Students Mentored:

  • 2014 - 2015: Daniel Lin
    • In collaboration with our faculty advisor Prof. Zili Liu, I supervised Daniel's year-long honors thesis project aimed at applying state-of-the-art machine learning techniques to brain imaging data.
    • He presented our work at the UCLA Psychology Undergraduate Research Conference, Stanford Undergraduate Psychology Conference, and the UCLA Cognitive Science Students Association.
  • 2012- 2014: Albert Chung
    • With our faculty advisor Prof. Ladan Shams, I supervised Albert's project investigating the relationship between tactile stimulation and threat response, results from which were ultimately published in our 2015 paper listed above. 

Teaching Experience

UCLA Undergraduate Courses Served as a Teaching Assistant:

    • Introductory Psychobiology, PSYCH 15
    • Research Methods in Psychology, PSYCH 100B
    • Behavioral Methods in Psychology, PSYCH 116
    • Principles of Behavioral Neuroscience, PSYCH 115
    • Cognitive Science Labs, Neural Networks, PSYCH 186B
    • Sensation and Perception, PSYCH 120B

Guest Lectures:

    • Fall 2015: Psych 115, I taught three lectures on the neurophysiology of the visual system
    • Spring 2015: Psych 88 Seminar, Consciousness and the Binding Problem in Multisensory Integration
    • Spring 2015: UCLA Cognitive Science Students Association presentation on my research
    • Fall 2012: Introductory Psychobiology lecture on Higher Cognitive Functions and Consciousness

Student Evaluations:

    • Average Overall Rating: 8.47/9
    • Sample Student Comments:
      • "He does a good job of sparking curiosity in learning more about the subject outside of class."
      • "Good TA, very approachable. 10/10 would take again."

Side Projects

Android Applications Developed:

    • Yams: a stock market prediction app that makes use of support vector machines trained on historical stock movement patterns to predict future stock price fluctuations. This app was developed in collaboration with three team members as part of the hackathon event LA Hacks 2015, where Yams placed in the Top Ten Hacks. 
    • Mindfully: this is a meditation timer app that I have developed initially for my own personal use and then submitted to the 2nd Annual UCLA Code for the Mission Contest in 2015, and which is now published on the Google play store.
    • MoneyTrack: this is an app developed for personal use to help gauge and monitor personal finances in an intuitive and secure way, for those less comfortable with inputting online banking details.  

Matlab Applications Developed:

    • Biofeedback Game: I made use of a custom-built Galvanic Skin Response device that I built for use in my Rubber Hand Illusion study, that was ultimately published (see above), to devise a game aiming to train the conductance signal it measures to remain low, and thus to keep the mind calm and tranquil.