Keely Muscatell, PHD

Keely Muscatell is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience and the Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center at UNC Chapel Hill. Trained as a social neuroscientist, her research focuses on elucidating the neurobiological mechanisms that link social experiences and health. Her work is highly interdisciplinary, as she employs theory and methods from social psychology, cognitive and affective neuroscience, psychoneuroimmunology, pharmacology, and population health. Keely completed post-doctoral training in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars program at UCSF/UC Berkeley, and in the Psychology Department at Berkeley. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from UCLA in June 2013, an MA in Psychology from UCLA in 2009, and a BA in Psychology and Spanish from the University of Oregon in 2006. When not in the lab, Keely can be found reading Dave Eggers, Ben Lerner, and Zadie Smith, watching college football, and/or drinking craft beer while listening to their vinyl collection with her partner, Dave Rose.



The Social Neuroscience and Health Lab is recruiting graduate students! We’d love to have you join us. For more information, see the “Join” page!”




Jennifer MacCormack, M.A. is a fourth year Ph.D. student in UNC's Department of Psychology and Neuroscience. She researches how bodily changes (e.g., interoceptive awareness, hunger, inflammation, physiological aging) can shift our emotions, social perceptions, and affect-based decisions. To test these connections, she draws on social cognition, peripheral psychophysiology, and neuroscience.When not researching or teaching, Jenn enjoys writing fiction, hiking through the Carolina Piedmont, or playing video games. Email:


Emma Armstrong-Carter

Emma Armstrong-Carter is the lab manager. She graduated in 2016 from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Her research interests focus on child and adolescent development, and the social and cognitive conditions that underlie human experiences. She is the primary research coordinator for Dr. Muscatell and Dr. Cohen.  She hopes to pursue a graduate degree in developmental psychology and become a professor.  In her free time Emma pets cats, draws, plays piano, hikes and goes boating and fishing.

Gary Wilkins

Gary Wilkins is a fMRI data analysis assistant whose primary role is constructing and managing a pipeline for human neuroimaging data. He earned a B.S. in Mathematics with a concentration in Physics and a minor in German Studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He then worked as a research technician for Dr. Eva Anton at the Neuroscience Center, UNC School of Medicine, on projects relating to ciliopathies and 3/4/5D visualizations of the embryonic mouse brain through several states of development. He has also been published in Developmental Cell and Transactions on Biomedical Engineering. He enjoys kickball, hiking, and brewing beer.



Hasan Mustafic

Hasan Mustafa is a research assistant. He is a senior majoring in psychology and minoring in film. His primary interest is in coping responses to stress, and how it relates more broadly to depression. Hasan likes to spend his free time playing soccer, watching movies, or going to concerts. Hasan is doing his Honors Thesis with the lab.

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Lillian Dillard a research assistant. She is a junior majoring in Biology and Psychology with a Spanish for the Medical Professions minor. She is interested in how the mechanism by which the brain processes stress effects the body’s immune response, as well as how society’s perception of long term caregivers impacts the support systems and services offered to these caregivers. For fun Lillian enjoys exploring libraries, reading, dancing poorly, and trying new foods at local restaurants.  



Emmie Banks is a research assistant. She is a junior majoring in Psychology & Neuroscience. She is interested in the intersection of social cognition and psychophysiological responses. More specifically, Emmie has a background with researching the social cognition of human morality. Besides academics, Emmie can often be found running on campus or on the school track, snuggling with her kitten named Ghost, or swimming laps at the pool. 


Arnav Singla

Arnav Singla is a research assistant. He is a junior majoring in Business Administration and double minoring in Biology and Chemistry. He is interested in the various socioeconomic factors that trigger stress and the responses, or biomarkers, associated with these triggers. Outside of the lab and classroom, Arnav enjoys going on long runs around campus, playing real soccer or FIFA (depending on the weather), and finding new cool playlists on Spotify!


Krista Cannady

Krista Cannady is a research assistant. She is a first year student majoring in Biology, and is excited to explore her other interests this year in social sciences and literature. For research, she is interested in how stress is connected to inflammation in the body, which relates directly to autoimmune disorders. In her free time, Krista likes to spend time outdoors, on the water, walking her dogs, or listening to her favorite music.


Samantha Brosso

Samantha Brosso is a Research Assistant. She is a senior majoring in psychology and minoring in neuroscience. Her research interests focus on how changes in the health of the brain impact cognitive and behavioral functioning in children. She is also interested in how stress can affect general health, and how this in turn influences the brain's role in regulating mood and behavior. She hopes to attend graduate school for clinical neuropsychology and to eventually become a pediatric neuropsychologist. During her free time, Samantha enjoys playing guitar, writing her own songs, going for a run, and playing with her two guinea pigs. 


Alex Haag

Alex Haag is a research assistant. He is a sophomore majoring in Biology and double minoring in Chemistry and History. He is interested in discovering new links between environmental factors and physiological response, specifically how the environment influences gene expression and suppression. He hopes to attend graduate school and study molecular biology. In his free time, Alejandro enjoys playing golf, traveling abroad, and cheering on the Tar Heels!





Carrington Merritt is a research assistant in the McNair Scholars Program. She is a junior majoring in Psychology with a minor in Biology and Neuroscience. She is interested in researching the various neural correlates implicated in social cognitive deficits, specifically those found in schizophrenia and autism. For fun, Carrington enjoys running, teaching group fitness classes at UNC Campus Rec, and having movie nights with her roommates.




Ellie Wallace is a research assistant.  She is a junior majoring in Psychology with minors in Chemistry and Creative Writing.  She is interested in looking at self-disclosure as a means of cognitive reward and specifically its role in the formation of relationships.  She hopes to attend medical school.  For fun she likes to go to UNC basketball games, watch Hallmark movies, and go running.





Saif Mehyar

My name is Saif Mehyar, and I’m a junior majoring in Business and Psychology. I’m particularly interested in how cognitive dissonance theory can help explain the neural correlates of conflict resolution and dissonance reduction in moral decision making and interracial interactions. For fun I like to weightlift, read books on postcoloniality, and watch philosophy debates.