People

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 developing novel methods for mapping the unique temporal dynamics of individuals' immediate social networks. Her ultimate goal is to inform personalized mental health interventions for individuals and cohabiting systems of people. When she's not in the lab, Natalie can be found gardening, SoulCycling, picnicking in a San Francisco park, or playing with her two cats.

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  • Postdoctoral Fellows

    Marianne Reddan

    Marianne completed her B.A. in Psychology in the laboratory of Elizabeth Phelps at NYU. There she studied the effects of controllability on threat responses under the mentorship of Catherine Hartley. She continued to research human threat responding with Daniela Schiller at Mount Sinai as a lab manager and then later completed her M.A. and Ph.D. with Tor Wager at the University of Colorado Boulder. Her dissertation work took an embodied approach to emotion representation in the brain; applying machine learning to neuroimaging data in order to better understand how emotion can be constructed and modified through sensory simulations. As a post doc in our lab she is using time series analyses to identify brain networks tracking empathic accuracy. Ultimately she hopes to apply this work in the form of prosocial programs that will increase empathy in our society.

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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

    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

    Wicia Fang

    Wicia received her Cognitive Science B.A. and Economics B.A. from U.C. Berkeley and conducted her honors thesis research on changes in media coverage of police use-of-force over time. She is interested in how empathy affects relationships and drives decision-making, especially in regards to low-income communities. Aside from tending to her tortoise Morrie, she loves to paint with watercolors and watch thrillers/detective shows.

    Dean Baltiansky

    Dean Baltiansky received his B.A. from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and his M.A. from New York University. In the lab, he is working on the social networks project under the guidance of Andrea Courtney. His research interests include intergroup humor, system justification, and the motivational antecedents of group stereotypes. Outside of work, Dean enjoys experimenting in the kitchen, watching sports, and pondering the meaning of life (often all at once).

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  • 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.

    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

    Yuan Chang Leong

    Yuan Chang graduated from the lab in 2019. He is currently a post-doc working with Mark D'Esposito at UC Berkeley. He combines behavioral experiments, computational modeling and neuroimaging to study how reward and motivation interacts with cognitive processes to shape 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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  • 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.

    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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  • Lab Babies

    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.

    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.

    Group Photos