Lab Director

Jamil Zaki

Jamil received his BA from Boston University, his Ph.D. from Columbia University, and postdoctoral training at Harvard University. Now that he’s in the Bay Area, his hobbies include compulsive hiking, eating avocados, and trying to remember how to drive again.

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  • Lab Manager

    Emma Templeton

    Emma received her B.A. from Harvard. There, she worked under the supervision of Jason Mitchell and became super excited about social cognition. Emma is interested in when and why people decide to engage in social interaction. She loves trying to make people laugh, working in cafes, and getting free t-shirts.

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  • Postdoctoral Fellows

    Brent Hughes

    Brent received his B.S. from the University of Michigan, worked as a lab manager at Columbia University, and then earned his Ph.D. at The University of Texas at Austin. His work broadly focuses on motivated reasoning in social cognition and the biases that arise in self- and social- perception. How is it that we come to see ourselves in an overly flattering light? How do we extend this tendency to people we care about and people with whom we share aspects of our identity (in-group members)? And, how do these tendencies impact real-world decisions and interactions? He examines these kinds of questions using a combination of behavioral and neuroimaging methods. Brent will start as an assistant professor of psychology at the University of California, Riverside in January. Contact Brent if you are interested in working with him!

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  • Graduate Students

    Craig Williams

    Craig received his B.S. in Psychology from the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he worked with Professors John Curtin and Hill Goldsmith. Following graduation, he completed post-baccalaureate training in cognitive neuroscience with Dr. James Blair at the National Institute of Mental Health. Craig’s research examines interpersonal emotion regulation – how we regulate our own and others’ emotions through social contact. To this end, he also studies the motivational features of affiliation and affective communication. Outside the lab, Craig can be found running, reading, and inevitably napping beneath palm trees.

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  • Desmond Ong

    Desmond graduated with a BA in Economics and Physics from Cornell University, and did research for a year in Singapore before coming to Stanford. Desmond is interested in studying emotions in the context of decision making and social cognition, via computational modeling and behavioral experiments. He's also interested in prosociality, and in behavioral and neuro-economics.

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  • Erika Weisz

    Erika received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Vermont, where she worked in the labs of Professors Annie Murray-Close and Jom Hammack. Following graduation, she spent two years at the MGH/Harvard Center for Addiction Medicine working as a clinical research coordinator for Dr. Eden Evins. Erika is interested in studying the flexibility of empathy by examining how changes in motivations drive people toward or away from empathy. She is also interested in designing and testing empathy interventions. In her spare time, Erika loves painting, playing board games and befriending neighborhood cats.

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  • Yuan Chang Leong

    Yuan Chang graduated with a B.A. in Psychology from Princeton University, where he worked with Professor Yael Niv and Professor Uri Hasson. He combines behavioral experiments, computational modeling and neuroimaging to study the neural basis of socio-cognitive processes. He is particularly interested in how cognitive mechanisms interact with the social environment to give rise to everyday behavior. Yuan Chang grew up in the city-state of Singapore, and there's nothing he craves more than authentic South-east Asian food. 

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  • Research Assistants

    Ryan Carlson

    Ryan received his B.A. in Psychology from Simon Fraser University in Canada, and completed a minor in Social Neuroscience abroad at Utrecht University in the Netherlands. He is interested in using neuroimaging methods to study the motivational forces behind human prosociality, as well as testing social interventions to explore how we can cultivate such forces at a societal level. In his spare time, Ryan enjoys hikes, bikes, and anything gezellig.

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  • Monica Kullar

    Monica received her B.Sc. in Psychology from UCSD. She has worked in a number of labs ranging from researching differential diagnoses of clinical disorders to topics such as social prejudice in individuals. She is currently interested in the relationship between empathy and stress, as well as how empathy can influence social networks. In her free time, you can find Monica painting, traveling, and enjoying Italian sodas - sometimes all at once.

    Preeti Kakani

    Born and raised on Long Island, Preeti is an undergraduate student at Stanford intending to study neuroscience. Her research interests include the neural bases of empathy and social cognition, as well as the means by which social cognition influences behavior. In her spare time, Preeti enjoys singing a cappella with the Stanford Harmonics, jogging, playing chess and watching Netflix.

    Sahar Hashemian

    Sahar was born and raised in the Bay Area. As a psychology major, Sahar is interested in research that deals with social cognition and what drives our decision making and judgements. In her free time, Sahar enjoys dancing, doing yoga, traveling, and watching netflix.

    Eleanor Collier

    Eleanor Collier grew up in Yreka, California. She is a Chemistry major and Creative Writing minor at Stanford University with a weakness for psychology classes. Her particular interests include empathy, social interactions, and the neural basis for emotion. Outside of lab, Eleanor enjoys talking with people, ballroom dance, piano improv, talking with people, binge-reading psychology papers, baking, running, and talking with people.

    Alex Sweetser

    Alex received his B.S. in Psychology and Brain Sciences at Boston University, where he researched child cognition and maternal depression. His research interests are broad, but he is particularly interested in studying the neural basis of empathy, anxiety, and mood disorders. Outside of the lab, Alex loves being in the outdoors, animals, biking, anything involving water, and is a podcast addict.

    Jake Elder

    Jake received his B.A. from UCLA in Psychology where he volunteered in labs researching social anxiety and intergroup relations, as well as completing an honors thesis during his senior year. He is interested in utilizing a multi-method approach to investigating the role of social identities and self-processes in influencing differential social experiences and outcomes, with health functioning, emotion, social connection/loneliness, and dehumanization/empathy as peripheral interests. In his spare time, he enjoys live music, reading, writing, meditating, and enduring through 49ers losses every Sunday.

    Lizzie Frankel

    Lizzie Frankel is loving the California sunshine after living in Minnesota for her entire life. She is a prospective psychology major at Stanford University, with interests ranging from empathy to eating disorders. She views all of life as a psychology laboratory and enjoys studying friends, family members, and strangers.

    Amanda Szerdi

    Amanda is a prospective Psychology major at Stanford University. She was born and raised in the high desert region of Southern California, but she has also lived in Mexico and Ecuador. Her research interests include topics regarding social cognition and emotion regulation. Amanda loves being outside, watercolor painting, drinking hot chocolate, and reading lots of books.

    Deshawn Sambrano

    Deshawn is currently interning this summer as part of the Stanford’s Summer Research Early Identification Program (SR-EIP). He is a rising senior at California State University, Fullerton earning his B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Philosophy. He is interested in studying neuroimaging and computational methods in the context of cognitive emotional interactions especially in decision making. In his spare time, Deshawn plays chess and piano.

    Valerie Taylor

    Valerie attends Pomona College where she majors in Psychology and minors in English. After college, she plans to pursue a degree in clinical psychology. Her more specific interests include bipolar disorder and brain areas related to abnormal psychology. She loves any combination of books, cats, and the outdoors.

    Sophie Wood

    Sophie is a rising senior at the University of Pennsylvania majoring in Criminology and minoring in Computer Science. Her research interests include the impact of biological and situational factors on emotion and behavior. Sophie's hobbies include learning new languages, cooking, and wasting time on the internet.

    Jackie Do

    Jackie grew up in the Bay Area.  As a psychobiology major, Jackie is interested in understanding cognition in special populations like older adults and people with autism. Jackie ponders how disorders and disease affect the psychophysiology of individuals and how they differ from that of her own. Aside from academia, Jackie enjoys swimming, hiking, cooking, and spending a majority of her time eating.

    Recent Alumni

    Diana Tamir

    Diana worked as a postdoc in the SSNL from 2014-215. She studies how people think about their own minds and the minds of other people using functional neuroimaging, machine learning, and behavioral methods. Diana is now an assistant professor of Psychology at Princeton University.

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  • Sylvia Morelli

    Sylvia worked as a postdoc in the SSNL from 212-2015. She examines the neural and behavioral basis of empathy and perspective-taking, as well as the neural responses associated with feeling understood by others. Her recent research explores how positive empathy (i.e., empathizing with others' positive and rewarding experiences) enhances social relationships and promotes happiness. Sylvia is now an assistant professor of psychology at University of Illinois at Chicago.

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  • Rucha Makati

    Rucha worked in the SSNL for two years. Rucha is continuing the work she started here as Sylvia Morelli's lab manager at the University of Illinois at Chicago.

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  • Lab Babies

    Alma Zaki

    Alma began her career as a psychologist in October of 2015, mostly by imitating people who stuck their tongues out at her. She's now studying faces and making crucial discoveries about the permanence of objects. In her spare time, Alma sleeps and practices making as many types of noises as possible.

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