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Meet Our Team


Jamil Zaki

Lab Director

Jamil received his BA from Boston University, his Ph.D. from Columbia University, and postdoctoral training at Harvard University. When he’s not writing about empathy for work, his hobbies include writing about empathy for fun, compulsive hiking, and perfecting a Michelin star oatmeal recipe for the SSNL’s very particular lab kids.


Rachel Calcott

Lab Manager

Rachel received her B.S. in Cognitive Science from Yale University. At Yale, she worked on studies investigating how social relationships shape our moral judgements. She’s interested in how the brain represents members of our social networks, and how information and moral beliefs propagate through these networks. Outside of the lab, Rachel gets excited about board game nights, playing her bass guitar with friends, and growing an assortment of cacti. 


Rui Pei

Postdoctoral Fellow

Rui (/ˈreɪ/) received her B.A. in Cognitive Neuroscience from Brown University, and her PhD in Communication from University of Pennsylvania. She is interested in understanding how adolescents and young adults make social decisions in the context of psychological and neural development, as well as social and environmental factors such as social networks. Outside of lab, she spends her time rock climbing and trying to keep her houseplants alive.


Luiza Almeida Santos

Graduate Student

Luiza holds a B.A. in Psychology from Swarthmore College. Broadly, she uses a motivated emotion framework to study affective polarization and the development of politically-relevant moral convictions. Her research examines how to prevent empathic failures towards dissimilar others and, consequently, foster more productive political discussions. She applies experimental methods, natural language processing, and social network analysis to study these questions. 

Luiza is a Ph.D. fellow at the Center on Philanthropy and Civil Society. Prior to arriving at Stanford University, she was a behavioral research fellow at the Kellogg School of Management and a research assistant at the University of Pennsylvania. In her free time, she likes painting, hiking with her dog, and singing badly while driving.


Eric Neumann

Graduate Student

Eric earned his B.Sc. at the Free University of Berlin. He spent his junior year as a visiting scholar at the University of Chicago, and the following summer as a research assistant at Harvard. His principal interests include why we tend to underestimate how social and prosocial a species we are, as well as testing interventions to reconnect us across social and moral divides. Eric loves to explore new countries, and enjoys food so long as he doesn't have to prepare it.

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Catherine Garton

Graduate Student

Catherine graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.S. in psychology and environmental science. Her research investigates how people respond to moral and political disagreements. She is especially interested in the processes that hinder humility, empathy, and tolerance around deeply held beliefs, and what might foster more harmonious communities instead. Outside of research, she will take any excuse to be in the mountains, and her achilles heel is cute, overpriced coffee shops. 


Samantha Grayson

Research Assistant

Samantha received her B.A. in Psychology from Princeton University and conducted her thesis research on how phone use bolstered well-being during the COVID-19 pandemic. She is interested in how behaviors shape feelings of social connection, as well as how creative engagement can increase empathy and well-being. Outside of the lab, Samantha enjoys dancing, slacklining, and arts and crafts.


Daniel Ogunbamowo

Research Assistant

Daniel received his B.A. in Neuropsychology and B.A. in Political Science from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In the lab, he primarily works on the Stanford Communities Project. His research interests include the influence of emotional regulation and geographical proximity on people’s social networks. Outside of the lab, he enjoys cooking, hiking, and spending time with friends and family.

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Brian Xu

Research Assistant

Brian is a sophomore at Stanford majoring in mathematical and computational science. He is interested in how modern technology and data analysis techniques can be applied to improve social interactions and wellbeing. In his free time, he enjoys solving a Rubik’s cube, playing the piano, oil painting, cracking puzzles, and hanging out with friends or family.


Zhengxuan (Zen) Wu

Research Assistant

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.

Alma Zaki

Lab Kid

Alma recently completed her master’s degree in Toddler and is now continuing towards a PhD in little kid. Her research interests include counting to 50, writing her name and diligently drawing inside the lines. To cut loose, Alma enjoys interpretive dance, impersonating a drill sergeant, and explaining things to her junior colleague, Luisa.

Luisa Zaki

Lab Kid

Luisa recently completed her Baby Bachelor’s degree in 2019 and is now working towards her Toddler with a concentration in distraction. She excels at hugging, head-first slide acrobatics, and chocolate tasting. She is passionate about you knowing that her favorite color is blue, and equally interested in knowing what yours is.


Louie Santos

Lab Pet & Head of Security

Louie has a PhD in sniffing. He is also an expert barker, always alerting his colleagues of imminent dangers, which include but are not limited to: loud flies, fallen leaves, and malicious squirrels. Moreover, he is strongly committed to combating wastefulness and will happily eat leftovers. When taking a break from his concerns with security and the environment, he enjoys napping in the sun.

Lab Alumni

Molly Arnn ◇ Dean Baltiansky ◇ Liza Benabbas ◇ Tyler Bonnen ◇ Ryan Carlson ◇ Mina Caraccio ◇ Lauren Chen ◇ Christina Chwyl ◇ Marissa Clark ◇ Skylar Cohen ◇ Eleanor Collier ◇ Dustin Deinhart ◇ Isabel Dibble ◇ Jacqueline Do ◇ Julia Doody ◇ Roma Dziembaj ◇ Jake Elder ◇ Virsaviya Efraim ◇ Wicia Fang ◇ Lizzie Frankel ◇ Stephen Frey ◇ Courtney Gao ◇ Leor Hackel ◇ Sahar Hashemian ◇ Ngan Kim Hoang ◇ Christina Huber ◇ Brent Hughes ◇ Averylia Jacintha ◇ Preeti Kakani ◇ Samantha Kargilis ◇ Naveen Kassamali ◇ Isabella Kahhale ◇ Derek Kincade ◇ Zoe Kleiman ◇ Hanna Kuhn ◇ Layo Laniyan ◇ Matt Leipzig ◇ Yuan Chang Leong ◇ Jocelyn Lin ◇ Yvette Lugo ◇ Marissa Maas ◇ Rucha Makati ◇ Natasha Marley ◇ Emma Master ◇ Alison Mattek ◇ Christopher Middleton ◇ Aaron Mitchell ◇ Sylvia Morelli ◇ Laura Ngan ◇ Erik Nook ◇ Desmond Ong ◇ Omri Raccah ◇ Mahnaz Roshanaei ◇ Natalie Samuels ◇ Mriganka Singh ◇ Michael Smith ◇ Jae-Young Son ◇ Rebeca Soyk ◇ Chipper Stotz ◇ Alex Sweetser ◇ Amanda Szerdi ◇ Diana Tamir ◇ Valerie Taylor ◇ Emma Templeton ◇ Brittany Torrez ◇ Erika Weisz ◇ Craig Williams ◇ Sophie Wood ◇ Emily Yeh

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