LAB DIRECTOR

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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.


POST-DOCTORAL SCHOLARS

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Monica M. Gaudier-Diaz, PHD

Monica is a postdoctoral fellow in the lab. She completed a BS in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico in 2008 and a PhD in Neuroscience at The Ohio State University. Interested in how environmental factors influence health, Monica decided to join to the Social Neuroscience & Health Laboratory were she will expand her training in this area. On her free time, she enjoys spending time with her family and friends, listening to music, going to the beach, visiting the zoo, and trying new restaurants/ bars.


GRADUATE STUDENTS

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JENNIFER MACCORMACK, MA

Jenn is a sixth-year doctoral trainee in Social Psychology at UNC. 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, psychoneuroimmunology, and social affective neuroscience. Jenn's research is supported by an NRSA Predoctoral Fellowship from the National Institute on Aging, as part of her dissertation. She hopes to become a tenure-track professor at a research university and build a lab that uses social affective and developmental science to explore the mind-body link. In 2013, she received her B.A. in Psychology from NC State University. Before that, she studied Welsh language and literature at Bangor University in North Wales, UK for four years. In her free time, Jenn enjoys writing fiction, hiking through the Carolina Piedmont, or playing video games.

Website: https://www.jkmaccormack.com/  Email: jkmaccor@unc.edu

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Gabriella Alvarez, AB 

Gaby is a second-year dual clinical and social doctoral student for the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience at UNC.  Supported by an NSF GRFP as well as a Pre-doctoral Ford Foundation Fellowship, she is gaining skills in psychoneuroimmunology and affective neuroscience to study how social contexts affect psychobiological responses to stress. Ultimately, her work aims to improve our understanding of how the social world sculpts biology, and will reveal the mechanisms underlying socioeconomic and racial health disparities. Gaby aspires to become a tenure-track faculty at a research university where her study of the social determinants of health not only contributes to advances in biology but also influences health policy and equity. In 2015, she received her A.B. in Psychology and Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. Following graduation, she completed a post-baccalaureate intramural research training position at the National Institute of Mental Health. In her spare time, Gaby enjoys eating, listening to podcasts, and bonding with her kitten Lillith.

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CARRINGTON MERRITT, BA

Carrington is dually enrolled in the clinical and social program here at UNC. Prior to being a graduate student, she worked as an undergraduate research assistant in the Carolina SNH lab while obtaining a BA in Psychology at UNC. Carrington's primary research interests are in how social conditions influence neural, physiological, and psychological functioning, and thus contribute to the onset, course, and treatment of severe mental illness, specifically schizophrenia. In her graduate studies, she plans to investigate social determinants of schizophrenia pathology, their associations with neurobiological mechanisms underlying schizophrenia risk, and how these associations may vary across socially advantaged and disadvantaged groups. To explore these interests, she hopes to use a mixed-method approach incorporating psychophysiology, neuroimaging, and behavioral experiments. It is her desire to use this research to help inform the development of more socially- and culturally-conscious interventions for those suffering from psychosis-related illnesses. In her spare time, Carrington enjoys running, reading historical fiction novels, and watching stand-up comedy specials on Netflix. 


Laboratory Manager

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Samantha N. Brosso, BS

Samantha is the SNH laboratory manager. Before her post-bac position, she graduated with a B.S. in Psychology from UNC Chapel Hill. She hopes to pursue a PhD in Social Psychology, with a specific focus on physical and emotional health. As a future graduate student, she would like to explore the physiological and neural mechanisms that set individuals on unique life-history trajectories. More specifically, she would like to disentangle how people’s early life experiences and current social world (i.e. social status, socio-cultural environment, social interactions) impact their brain and stress response system, and in turn, how the organization and function of these biological systems influence the way in which individuals interact with the world around them. In her spare time, Samantha enjoys playing her guitar, writing songs, and playing with her two guinea pigs.

 Email: brosso@live.unc.edu


UNDERGRADUATE RESEARCH ASSISTANTS

 

Krista Cannady

Krista is a junior majoring in Biology, with a minor in Neuroscience. 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 at the beach, hiking, kayaking, walking her dogs, or listening to her favorite music.

 

Alex Haag

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

 

alumni

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Emma Armstrong-Carter

Emma was the SNH lab's very first 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. Emma is currently enrolled as a doctoral student at Stanford University.

 

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Carrie  Hamilton

Carrie was an SNH lab programmer. She graduated from UNC in Spring 2017, majoring in environmental science and geography. Carrie is interested in the intersection of social psychology and geography, and is especially interested in emotional, spatial, and temporal dynamics of bereavement and intimate relationships.

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Gary Wilkins

Gary Wilkins was our fMRI data analysis assistant, who constructed 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 for UNC School of Medicine.

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EMMIE BANKS

Emmie was a research assistant and honors student. She graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 2018, with a degree in Psychology.  Emmie will be joining the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Unit in the Yale School of Medicine for a three year post-bac fellowship. Here, she will assist in the research coordination of clinical trials and neuroimaging studies, as well as undertake independent research projects. After this she hopes to attend graduate school.

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Saif Mehyar

Saif  was a research assistant and honors student. He graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 2018, with a degree in Business Psychology. Saif is interested in studying how cognitive dissonance theory can help explain the neural correlates of conflict resolution and dissonance reduction in moral decision making and interracial interactions. 

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Ellie Wallace

Ellie was an undergraduate honors student. She graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 2018, with a degree in Psychology. Ellie 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 in the future.

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Graham Booth

Graham was a research assistant. He is a third year student hoping to major in public health with minors in neuroscience and chemistry, and plans to attend medical school. For research, he is interested in the physiological responses to stress as well as neuromuscular disorders. 

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Arnav Singla

Arnav was a research assistant. He graduated from UNC Chapel Hill in 2018, with a degree in Business Administration. He is interested in the various socioeconomic factors that trigger stress and the responses, or biomarkers, associated with these triggers.