Lab

The Laboratory on Social & Affective Neuroscience is located in the Department of Psychology at Georgetown University. We conduct research aimed at understanding the social, cognitive, and neural basis of social processes that include empathy, altruism, and aggression.

We are not planning on accepting a new Ph.D. applicant to the lab this year. If you are interested in applying to other labs this fall, information about applying to the Psychology Ph.D. program can be found here. Information about applying to the Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience Ph.D. program can be found here. 

If you’re interested in a research assistant position, the online application can be found here.


Current lab members

Hannah Savitz, Laboratory manager

headshotHannah Savitz received her degree with a major in Psychology and minors in Anthropology and Gender & Sexuality Studies from Northwestern University in 2018. Her most recent research experience includes working as a research assistant at the Northwestern Institute for Sexual and Gender Minority Health and Wellbeing, as well as completing an honors thesis in Social Psychology during her senior year. She has also worked as a classroom literacy mentor to preschoolers through AmeriCorps’ Jumpstart program. For all research-related inquiries, please contact Hannah at hs962@georgetown.edu. 


KathrynAdams.jpgKathryn Berluti, PhD student (Psychology)

Katie is a graduate student in the Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience concentration. She graduated from The Pennsylvania State University in 2016, where she majored in Psychology, with a focus in Neuroscience. She then worked as a research assistant at the Center for Neurobehavioral Research with Dr. James Blair where she studied the neural correlates of aggression and callous-unemotional traits. She currently studies dysfunction in empathy and emotion processing circuitries in clinical populations. 

Publications include:

Berluti, K., O’Connell, K., Rhoads, S. A., Brethel-Haurwitz, K. M., Cardinale, E. M., Vekaria, K. M., Robertson, E. L., Walitt, B., VanMeter, J. W., & Marsh A. A. (2020). Reduced multi-voxel pattern similarity of vicarious neural pain responses in psychopathy. In press, Journal of Personality Disorders.


2015-06-12 20.14.55

Katherine O’Connell, PhD student (Neuroscience)

Katie is a graduate student in Georgetown’s Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience (IPN). She received her Bachelors of Science degree in Biology-Neuroscience from The Pennsylvania State University in 2013. She then completed a post-baccalaureate research fellowship with Drs. Christian Grillon and Monique Ernst at the NIMH in which her focus was using fMRI and psychophysiological techniques to investigate neural mechanisms underlying anxiety. She joined LSAN in the spring of 2016 and is working towards her PhD investigating the subcortical substrates of altruism and affective empathy.

Publications include:

O’Connell, K., Brethel-Haurwitz, K.M., Rhoads, S.A., Cardinale, E. M., Vekaria, K. M., Robertson, E. L., Walitt, B., VanMeter, J. W., & Marsh, A. A. (2019). Increased similarity of neural responses to experienced and empathic distress in costly altruism. Scientific Reports, 24, 10774. (link)

Vekaria, K. M., O’Connell, K., Rhoads, S. A., Brethel-Haurwitz, K. M., Cardinale, E. M., Robertson, E. L., Walitt, B., VanMeter, J. W., Marsh, A. A. (2020). Activation in bed nucleus of the stria terminalis (BNST) corresponds to everyday helping. Cortex, 127, 67-77. (link)

Brethel-Haurwitz, K. M., O’Connell, K., Cardinale, E. M., Stoianova, M., Stoycos, S. A., Leah Lozier, L. M., VanMeter, J. W., & Marsh, A. A. (2017). Amygdala-midbrain connectivity indicates a role for the mammalian parental care system in human altruism. Proceedings of the Royal Society B – Biological Sciences, 284: 20171731. (link)


AAEAAQAAAAAAAAS3AAAAJGNiMWM0OTUwLTIwMTAtNGI1Mi1iZmJkLTczYzdiZjQ2Mzg0NwShawn Rhoads, PhD student (Psychology)

Shawn is a graduate student in the Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience concentration. He graduated from the University of Southern California in 2016, where he doubled majored in Physics and Psychology. He joined the lab in 2017 after working as a laboratory manager in the Human Experiences & Affective Development Lab with Drs. Amanda E. Guyer and Paul D. Hastings at the University of California Davis. He studies how the neural mechanisms that sub-serve social and emotional functioning can be leveraged across the lifespan to help both the self and others.

Publications include:

Marsh, A. A., Rhoads, S. A., & Ryan, R. M. (2019). A multi-semester classroom demonstration yields evidence in support of the facial feedback effect. Emotion, 19, 1500-1504. (link)

O’Connell, K., Brethel-Haurwitz, K.M., Rhoads, S.A., Cardinale, E. M., Vekaria, K. M., Robertson, E. L., Walitt, B., VanMeter, J. W., & Marsh, A. A. (2019). Increased similarity of neural responses to experienced and empathic distress in costly altruism. Scientific Reports, 24, 10774. (link)

O’Connell, K., Brethel-Haurwitz, K.M., Rhoads, S.A., Cardinale, E. M., Vekaria, K. M., Robertson, E. L., Walitt, B., VanMeter, J. W., & Marsh, A. A. (2019). Increased similarity of neural responses to experienced and empathic distress in costly altruism. Scientific Reports, 24, 10774. (link)


Research Assistants

Brandi Ginn, Honors Student

Stella Ryou, RISE student

Sarah Connell, Research Assistant

Marissa Walsh, Research assistant


Locating us

The lab is located on the 3rd floor of White-Gravenor Hall, at the intersection of 37th and P Streets NW in Washington DC. To reach our lab, use the staircase or elevator located at the East end of the building:



Alums

Kruti Vekaria, PhD (Psychology, Georgetown University). Kruti completed her dissertation in the lab and received her PhD in 2019. She is now a Behavioral Science Consultant at Lirio, a behavior change AI platform that unites behavioral science with artificial intelligence.

Kristin Brethel-Haurwitz, PhD (Psychology, Georgetown University). Kristin completed her dissertation research in the lab and received her PhD in 2017. She was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship to conduct research in Joe Kable’s lab at the University of Pennsylvania.

Elise Cardinale, PhD (Psychology, Georgetown University). Elise completed her dissertation and received her PhD in 2017. She is now a post-doctoral researcher with Danny Pine and Ellen Liebenluft at the NIMH.

Leah Lozier, PhD (Neuroscience, Georgetown University). Leah received her PhD in 2014. She was awarded a Presidential Management Fellowship and is now working as a Social Science Analyst at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. 

Lydia Meena. Lydia served as LSAN laboratory manager from 2016 to 2018 after receiving her degree with majors in Psychology and Spanish from Georgetown University in 2016. 

Emily Robertson, PhD student (Clinical Psychology, Louisiana State University). Emily served as LSAN laboratory manager from 2014 to 2016, and is now a Clinical Psychology PhD student with Paul Frick at LSU.

Sarah Stoycos, PhD student (Clinical Psychology, University of Southern California). Sarah served as LSAN laboratory manager from 2012 to 2014, and is now a Clinical Psychology PhD student with Darby Saxbe at USC.

Joana Vieira, PhD (Neuroscience, University of Porto). Joana completed her dissertation research in the lab and received her PhD from the University of Porto in 2014. She is now completing her post-doctoral work with Andreas Olsson at the Karolinska Institutet.

 

Undergraduate alumni

Brandon Padgett, COL ’19
Hae Min Byeon* COL ’11 (PhD student, Comparative Human Development, University of Chicago)
Jessica Chaffkin*, COL ’13, MD (University of Maryland)
Kelly Church COL ’13Keri Church COL ’13

Keri Church COL ’13
Nicole Conrad, COL ’19 (JD student, University of California Berkeley)
Lauren Davis
Michael Didow III
Yean Do* COL ’13
Zoë Epstein COL ’17
Mollie Grossman COL ’12 (PhD student, Gerontology, USC)
Mike Hall
Shivani Goyal* COL ’19 (Post-doctoral IRTA, NIMH/NIH)

Jennifer Hammer* COL ’14
Alexandra Hashemi COL ’11, MD (Tulane University)
Arianna Hughes COL ’17
Sarah Khorasani, COL ’16 (MD/MA student, Tufts University)
Kalli Krumpos, COL ’12
Kyla Machell* COL ’10 (PhD student, Clinical Psychology, George Mason University)
Diana McCue, COL ’11, MSSW (University of Texas at Austin)
Alissa Mrazek, PhD (Northwestern University)
Esha Nagpal* COL ’12
Madeleine Quinn* COL ’18
Nilesh Seshadri COL ’15 (MD student, Georgetown University)
Kelsey Smith COL ’10
Madeline Smith COL ’15 (MD student, Emory University)
Maria Stoianova, COL ’16
Megan Weber* COL ’17
Matthew Williams (MD/MBA Candidate at Georgetown University)

* Honors Student