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Jennifer Pokorny


  • PhD (Emory University)
  • MA (Emory University)
  • BA (University of Wisconsin - Madison)

Research Focus

I am an Assistant Project Scientist at the Center for Mind and Brain at UC Davis working with Dr. Cliff Saron. My research interests are in the domains of social and emotional processes. Currently, I am involved in examining the behavioral, physiological, and affective effects of meditation retreat participation using data from questionnaires and interviews from participants and individuals familiar with participants, as well as data from autonomic and neuroendocrine measures. Using a method I recently developed for visualizing and analyzing qualitative data using graph theory and network analysis, which allows us to quantify qualitative data, I am investigating retreat participants’ longitudinal reports of their goals and priorities in relation to measures of psychological well-being. Other projects involve analyzing retreat participants’ physiological response to emotional provocation and physiological linkage with another individual as an indicator of empathic responding.

Selected Publications

Pokorny, J.J., Hatt, N.V., Colombi, C., Vivanti, G., Rogers, S.J., & Rivera, S.M. (2015). The action observation system when observing hand actions in autism and typical development. Autism Research. 8, 284-296.

Plotnik, J.M., Pokorny, J.J., Keratimanochaya, T., Webb, C.E., Beronja, H., Hennessy, A., Hill, J., Hill, V., Kiss, R., Maguire, C., Melville, B., Morrison, V., Seecoomar, D., Singer, B., Ukehaxhaj, J., Vlahakis, S., Ylli, D., Clayton, N.S., Roberts, J., Fure, E., Duchatelier, A., Getz, D., (2013). Visual cues by humans are not sufficient for Asian Elephants (Elephas maximus) to find hidden food. PLoS ONE. 8(4): e61174. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0061174.

Pokorny, J.J., Webb, C.E., & de Waal, F.B.M. (2011). An inversion effect modified by expertise in capuchin monkeys. Animal Cognition. 14(6), 839-846.

Pokorny, J.J. & de Waal, F.B.M. (2009). Monkeys recognize the faces of group members in photographs. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. 106(51), 21539-21543.

Pokorny, J.J. & de Waal, F.B.M. (2009). Face recognition in capuchin monkeys (Cebus apella). Journal of Comparative Psychology. 123(2), 151-160.

de Waal, F.B.M & Pokorny, J.J. (2008).Faces and behinds: Chimpanzee sex perception. Advanced Science Letters, 1(1), 99-103.


2013 Mind and Life Summer Research Institute Research Fellow

2013 Keynote Speaker for Women’s History Month, Innovation through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics at Consumnes River College

2012 Ig Nobel Award, Anatomy Prize, for “Faces and Behinds: Chimpanzee Sex Perception” by de Waal, F.B.M. and Pokorny, J.J.

2012 Fellowship to attend the Maryland Neuroimaging Center Summer Institute on Social Developmental Neuroscience, University of Maryland

2011 Jacobs Foundation Young Scholars Award

2010-2012 Autism Research Training Program Fellowship, UC Davis Institutional National Research Service Award (NRSA) from National Institutes of Health (NIH)

2007-2008 Problems and Research to Integrate Science & Mathematics (PRISM) Graduate Fellowship, GK-12 grant from National Science Foundation (NSF)

2007 American Society of Primatologists Small Research Grant

2006 Wisconsin Symposium on Emotion Fellowship Award