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

    Natalie Samuels

    Natalie received her B.A. in Psychology from Stanford University. She is interested in using experience sampling to explore the role of interpersonal emotion regulation in individuals struggling with anxiety and loneliness. When she's not in the lab, Natalie can be found gardening, picnicking in a San Francisco park, or playing with her cat.

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  • Postdoctoral Fellows

    Leor Hackel

    Leor Hackel received his B.S. from Columbia University and his Ph.D. from New York University. His research examines the intersection of learning, social cognition, and decision-making: he studies how people learn about other people through interaction, and how people make decisions guided by social knowledge and motives. His research uses behavioral experiments, computational modeling, and neuroimaging approaches to explore these questions.

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  • Andrea Courtney

    Andrea received her B.A. and M.A. in Psychology from Wake Forest University and her PhD in Psychological & Brain Sciences from Dartmouth College. Her research combines behavioral experiments, social network data, and neuroimaging to understand how social connection contributes to well-being. She's happiest spending time outside, being active, and binge watching tv dramas — and enjoys them even more with other people!

    Graduate Students

    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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  • Luiza Almeida Santos

    Luiza received her B.A. in Psychology from Swarthmore College. After graduation, she worked for one year as a behavioral research fellow at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management before joining Stanford’s PhD program in 2018. Luiza is interested in studying the psychological mechanisms underlying processes of attitude polarization and radicalization. She is especially interested in the role played by group-based emotions and moral cognition in these attitudinal shifts. In her free time, she likes painting, hiking with her dog, and singing badly while driving.

    Research Assistants

    Isabella Kahhale

    Isabella received her B.S. in Cognitive & Brain Sciences from Tufts University, along with a minor in English and a certificate in Ethics, Law, & Society. She’s interested in how society labels some groups as worthy of empathy, while others are deemed undeserving. Among other projects, she is currently studying the impact of empathy and perspective-taking in a legal setting. She loves cooking, talking during movies, working out, and undoing her workouts with her uncontrollable sweet tooth.

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  • Matt Leipzig

    Matt graduated with a B.S. in psychology from Ohio State University. Matt is interested in prosocial behavior and empathy using behavioral experiments and neuroimaging methods. In his free time, Matt can usually be found eating Greek food or trying out new recipes.

    Zhengxuan(Zen) Wu

    Zhengxuan received his B.S. in mechanical engineering and aerospace engineering from Case Western Reserve University and M.S. in computer science from University of Pennsylvania. Currently, he is a MS&E student at Stanford focusing on computational social science while working at VMware. He is interested in applying computational methods to analyze social and cognitive data and building "artifical psychology" for robots.

    Emma Master

    Emma is a senior studying Symbolic Systems with a Cognitive Science concentration. She’s interested in reinforcing cycles of belief, narrative psychology, moral cognition, and the criminal justice system. She loves dogs, reading, meditating, crafts, and donuts.

    Christina Huber

    Christina is a senior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Biology. She is interested in using behavioral experiments and neuroimaging to explore how people's motives drive them to approach or avoid empathy, especially in an intergroup context. She is also interested in designing empathy-building interventions. Outside of the lab, Christina loves jogging, writing, listening to podcasts, and daydreaming about cats she'd like to adopt.

    Samantha Kargilis

    Sam is a senior majoring in Human Biology and minoring in English. She is interested in using behavioral, computational modeling, and neuroimaging methods to study interpersonal emotion regulation, looking at how we manage our own emotions and others’ emotions through social contact. She is also interested in prosocial behavior and empathy-building interventions in clinical contexts. Outside of the lab, Sam loves podcasts, comedy, and acapella music.

    Michael Smith

    Michael Smith is a Junior from Washington State studying Symbolic Systems with a concentration in Artificial Intelligence. He is interested in interdisciplinary applications of machine learning, as well as computational approaches to psychology. In his free time, Michael likes contributing to the robotics club, reading, lifting weights, and hanging out with friends.

    Roma Dziembaj

    Roma is a senior studying Symbolic Systems with an Artificial Intelligence concentration. She is interested in how emotions, more specifically arousal, can impact the way we perceive the world and make decisions about it. She is also interested in game theory and building intelligent decision-making agents in her classes. Roma also enjoys contributing to the Stanford AI Group, leading the Stanford Marketing Group, convincing everyone to major in Symsys, costume design, and yoga.

    Matthew Zheng

    Matthew is a first-year likely studying International Relations and Feminist, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. He is interested in understanding hatred, religious-moral conviction, and (de)radicalization. He hopes to apply this to research in political crisis intervention. He loves plants, learning languages, and backpacking through new countries.

    Recent Alumni

    Alison Mattek

    Alison worked as a postdoc in the SSNL from 2017-2018. She studied music as an undergraduate at the University of Miami FL (BS in Music Engineering) and as a master's student at Dartmouth College (MA in Digital Musics). She went on to complete a PhD in Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth with Paul J. Whalen and George Wolford. Her research focuses on building models of emotion that are based on measurements of behavior and physiology (including neuroimaging data).

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  • Yvette Lugo

    Yvette worked in the lab through SPSP's SPUR program during the summer of 2018. She is now a senior at California State University, Northridge and works in a social psychology lab on campus. She loves arts and crafts, spending time with her family, and cooking.

    Marissa Clark

    Marissa was the lab manager from 2016 to 2018 and is currently pursuing her PhD in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Dartmouth with Luke Chang. She received her B.S. in Cognitive Science with a minor in Neuroscience from UCLA. Marissa will be remembered in the SSNL for providing the lab with far too many snacks and strange gifts for departing lab members.

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  • Erika Weisz

    Erika completed her Ph.D with the lab in 2018, where she studied motivational forces that drive people toward or away from empathy. In her dissertation work, she developed and administered empathy interventions to improve people’s social and emotional wellbeing. She is now a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University studying empathy, prosocial behavior, and social decision-making.

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  • Lab Babies

    Luisa Zaki

    Luisa graduated from Uterine University in March of 2017, with a double major in cuteness and crying. Since then, she's focused mainly on studying faces and learning to swallow avocado. She hopes to soon expand her studies to independent locomotion with the help of her senior colleague, Alma.

    Alma Zaki

    Alma recently completed a two year masters program in Baby, and is now continuing on to a doctorate in Toddler with a specialization in Mayhem. She is rapidly becoming a linguistic savant, especially when it comes to issuing commands. In her free time, she enjoys mentoring her junior colleague, Luisa, and most of the time remembers not to sit on her.

    Danielle Hackel

    Dani received her certificate of birth in June, 2016. She enjoys studying people, specializing in those with high-contrast faces, and takes a hands-on approach. She has attended conferences on decision making (2016) and cognitive therapy (in utero). Hobbies include music and milk.

    Group Photos