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.

Interested in joining the lab? We are seeking new graduate students for 2017. Information about applying to the 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

Lydia Meena, Laboratory manager.

lbmeena_1337066734_140Lydia Meena received her degree with majors in Psychology and Spanish from Georgetown University in 2016. Her prior research experience includes working in the Laboratory on Social & Affective Neuroscience since 2014, as well as working as a research assistant in the Infant Cognition Lab at the University of Kentucky. She has also worked as a youth mentor and tutor through Georgetown’s DC Reads literacy program. For all research-related inquiries, please contact Lydia at

Kristin Brethel-Haurwitz, Graduate student (Psychology)

Google Profile PicI am a graduate student in the Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience concentration. I received a B.S. in Biopsychology from Tufts University in 2009. I joined LSAN in Fall 2011 after working as a Clinical Research Coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital. My work focuses on understanding the neurocognitive basis of altruism using behavioral research and fMRI. I will be starting a post-doctoral position at the University of Pennsylvania in the Fall of 2016.

Publications include:

Brethel-Haurwitz, K. M. & Marsh, A. A. (2014). Geographical differences in subjective well-being predict extraordinary altruism. Psychological Science, 25, 762-771.

Marsh, A. A., Stoycos, S. A., Brethel-Haurwitz, K. M., Robinson, P. VanMeter, J. W. & Cardinale, E. M. (2014). Neural and cognitive characteristics of extraordinary altruists. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 111, 15036-41.

1gQzjt8iElise Cardinale, Graduate student (Psychology)

I graduated from Georgetown University in 2010, and have been part of the laboratory since 2008, first as a research assistant, then as laboratory manager. I am now working toward my Ph.D. My works focuses on how emotional processes affect moral decision making.

Publications include: 

Marsh, A. A., & Cardinale, E. M. (2014). When psychopathy impairs moral judgments: Neural responses during judgments about causing fear. Social Cognitive & Affective Neuroscience, 9, 3-11.

Cardinale, E. M. & Marsh, A. A. (2015). Impact of psychopathy on moral judgments about causing fear and physical harm. PLoS ONE, 10, e0125708.

Kruti_VekariaKruti Vekaria, Graduate student (Psychology)

I am a first year graduate student in the Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience concentration. I graduated from the University of Southern California in 2012, where I double majored in Neuroscience and Economics. I joined the lab in 2014 after working as a Research Analyst at Vanderbilt University. I am interested in studying decision-making and how emotion regulation affects the subjective valuation of monetary, social, and health choices. I am currently working on behavioral and neuroimaging projects evaluating altruistic behavior in stem cell donors and living kidney donors.

2015-06-12 20.14.55Katherine O’Connell, Graduate student (Neuroscience)

I am a graduate student in Georgetown’s Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience (IPN). I graduated with a Bachelors of Science degree in Biology-Neuroscience from The Pennsylvania State University in 2013. After receiving my undergraduate degree, I completed a post baccalaureate research fellowship with Drs. Christian Grillon and Monique Ernst at the National Institute of Mental Health in which my focus was using fMRI and psychophysiological techniques to investigate neural mechanisms underlying anxiety. I joined LSAN in the spring of 2016 and am working towards my PhD investigating the subcortical substrates of altruism and affective empathy.

Lauren Davis, Research assistant

Madeleine Quinn, Research assistant

Maria Stoianova, Research assistant

Megan Weber, Honors student

Matthew Williams, 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:


Screen Shot 2015-06-09 at 4.02.23 PMAbbey Hammel, PhD student (University of Minnesota, Psychology)

Abbey finished a 1-year term as a full-time research assistant in 2016, and is now a Psychology PhD student in the laboratory of Shmuel Lissek at the University of Minnesota. 

LeahLLeah Lozier, PhD (Georgetown University, Interdisciplinary Program in Neuroscience)

Following completion of her degree, Leah was awarded a prestigious Presidential Management Fellowship and is now working at the Department of Housing and Urban Development. She was one of the first Fellows to be selected for the PMF STEM track.

AAEAAQAAAAAAAAIBAAAAJGU2Yjk2ZjI3LTBjMjItNDYwNi1iOTNkLTc2MmQxMTdhODMyZAEmily Robertson, PhD student (Louisiana State University, Clinical Psychology)

Emily completed a two-year term as LSAN laboratory manager in 2016, and is now a Clinical Psychology PhD student in the laboratory of Paul Frick at LSU.

photoSarah Stoycos, PhD student (University of Southern California, Clinical Psychology)

Sarah completed a two-year term as LSAN laboratory manager in 2014, and is now a Clinical Psychology PhD student in the laboratory of Darby Saxbe at USC.

vieiraapsawardJoana Vieira, PhD (University of Porto, Neuroscience)

Joana completed her dissertation research in the lab and received her PhD from the University of Porto. Following completion of her degree, Joana won a post-doctoral research fellowship at the University of Western Ontario, where she is now working with Derek Mitchell.

Undergraduate alumni

Hae Min Byeon* (PhD student, Comparative Human Development, University of Chicago)
Jessica Chaffkin* (MD student, University of Maryland)
Kelly Church
Keri Church
Michael Didow III
Yean Do*
Zoë Epstein
Mollie Grossman (PhD student, Gerontology, USC)
Mike Hall
Jennifer Hammer*
Alexandra Hashemi (MD student, Tulane University)
Arianna Hughes
Sarah Khorasani
Kalli Krumpos
Kyla Machell* (PhD student, Clinical Psychology, George Mason University)
Diana McCue (MSSW student, Social Work, University of Texas at Austin)
Alissa Mrazek, PhD (Psychology, Northwestern University)
Esha Nagpal*
Nilesh Seshadri (MD student, Georgetown University)
Kelsey Smith
Madeline Smith (MD student, Emory University)
Michaela Tracy* (MD student, University of Massachusetts)

* Honors Student