Lab Director

Carolyn Parkinson, Ph.D.

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Carolyn studies how the human brain tracks and encodes information about its social environment, and how this information shapes our thoughts and behavior. She received her B.Sc. from McGill University in Montreal. After completing her B.Sc., Carolyn spent a year in China overseeing cross-cultural research on depression at Beijing University. She then completed her Ph.D. in Cognitive Neuroscience at Dartmouth College with Thalia Wheatley before becoming an Assistant Professor at UCLA in March 2016.

Lab Manager

Ryan Hyon

Ryan graduated with a B.A. in Neuroscience from Dartmouth College in 2017. He has been involved in research on the reward system and the action observation network. Ryan wrote his honors thesis on how motivational content, visuospatial perspective, and individual differences in empathy modulate representations of appetitive actions. He is interested in how differences in self-other construal affect prosocial behavior.


Meng Du

Meng graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.S. in psychology and computer science. She is broadly interested in many aspects of social neuroscience, especially applying computational models and machine learning methods to understand how our brains process social experience and infer other people's minds.

Graduate Students


Miriam Weaverdyck

Miriam is a first year graduate student in the lab.  She graduated with a B.A. in Psychology and Mathematical Sciences from Bethel College, KS in 2013. After college, Miriam was the lab coordinator for the Laboratory for Developmental Language Studies at Rutgers University for a year and then spent two years as the lab manager of the Social Neuroscience Lab at Princeton University. Her most recent work has focused on neural representations of mental states in ourselves and others, while future work will investigate our understandings of social networks and their influences.

If you're interested in joining the lab as a PhD student in Fall 2018, please apply to the UCLA Ph.D. program by Dec. 1, 2017.


Yuchen Li

Yuchen is a senior at UCLA working towards her B.A. in psychology. She has been involved in research on visual perception, home literacy environment, learning and memory, and depression support groups. She is interested in studying the social factors that may interact with memory to influence current and future behaviors. Currently, she is conducting her honors thesis research on social networks and behaviors. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. in cognitive psychology.



Zeynep Gungor

Zeynep is a senior at UCLA working towards her B.A. in psychology. As a Turkish international student that attended a German high school, her diverse background has strongly influenced her interest in how the brain integrates social and cultural information. In particular, Zeynep is interested in studying how these neural mechanisms shape social cognition and behavior. She hopes to pursue a career in industrial and organizational psychology.

Taylor Pio

Taylor is a sophomore at UCLA from Atlanta, Georgia. She is working towards her B.S. is psychobiology, and she is interested in studying the interdependence between social environments and the neural structures used for mental processes. She is considering a career as an industrial organizational psychologist.

Fini Chang

Fini graduated with a B.S. in Psychobiology from UCLA in 2015. She has been involved in various research labs, ranging from studies on sleep and mood disorders to fear conditioning in anxiety disorders to memory in Alzheimer's disease. Her main interests lie in determining how learning and memory processes are affected by social ties and interactions. She plans to pursue a Ph.D. degree in clinical psychology.

Grace Gillespie

Grace graduated with a B.A. in psychology from UCLA in 2016. She has been involved in research that examines affect labeling as a form of emotion regulation as well as research that examines stereotype threat and social stigmas. She is primarily interested in social neuroscience and perception and plans to pursue a Ph.D. in social psychology.

If you're interested in joining the lab as a research assistant, please complete this online application form.


Information for those interested in joining the lab as postdoctoral fellows can be found here.


Vanessa Castro - Undergraduate Honors student, now a student in the UC Berkeley Social-Personality Ph.D program working under Professor Serena Chen in the Self, Identity, and Relationships (SIR) lab.

Ruby Basyouni - Psychology Research Opportunity Programs (PROPS) undergraduate research assistant, now planning to pursue a Ph.D. in behavioral neuroscience.

Mary Decker - Lab manager, now a Clinical Research Coordinater at NYU.