CofC Logo

Cynthia May, Ph.D.


Address: 55 Coming St., Office #103
Phone: 843.953.6735
Personal Website:
Curriculum Vitae: Download


Duke University, Durham, North Carolina
Ph.D., 1995

Research Interests

One line of my research explores human cognition and seeks ways to optimize intellectual functioning for young adults, older adults, and individuals with intellectual disabilities. I am particularly interested in human memory and the factors that influence different forms of memory, including emotion, circadian arousal, and age. More recently I have developed an interest in the drive for knowledge – what makes us curious, and how does that change with age.

A second line of research examines inclusive social and educational settings in which people with and without disabilities live and learn together. For too long people with intellectual disabilities have been segregated in separate classrooms and sheltered work centers. How do we create change within our educational, recreational and employment systems? I work with students and colleagues across the country to enhance inclusive opportunities on college campuses and beyond. My research explores the factors that have created and perpetuated segregated settings, as well as the consequences of inclusive interactions on attitudes and behavior, with the aim of improving options and outcomes for people with disabilities.

Nearly all of my work involves collaboration with undergraduate students, who team with me on grant proposals, conference presentations, and publications. I also enjoy writing about new research findings for Scientific American.  You can check out some of my articles at:

Teaching Interests

  •        Cognitive Psychology
  •        Sins of Memory
  •        Adult Development and Aging
  •        Cognitive Laboratory
  •        Introduction to Psychological Science

Recent Publications

May, C. P., & Hasher, L. (2017). Synchrony affects performance for older but not younger neutral-type adults. Timing and Time Perception, 5, 129 -148.

Plotner, A., & May, C. P. (2017). A comparison of the college experience for students with and without disabilities. Journal of Intellectual Disabilities. DOI:

May, C. P., Manning, M., Einstein, G. O., Becker, L., & Owens, M. (2015). The best of both worlds: Emotional cues boost prospective memory accuracy and reduce repetition errors. Aging, Neuropsychology, and Cognition, 22(3), 357-375. DOI:10.1080/13825585.2014.952263

Jones, M., Boyle, M., May, C. P., Paiewonsky, M., Prohn, S., Updike, J., & Wheeler, C. (2015). Building inclusive campus communities: A framework for inclusion. Think College Insight Brief, 26, 1-5.