Emily Falk
Phone: 215-573-1974
Office: 328 ASC
Emily Falk is a Professor of Communication, Psychology, and Marketing at the University of Pennsylvania. Prof. Falk employs a variety of methods drawn from communication science, neuroscience and psychology. Her work traverses levels of analysis from individual behavior, to diffusion in group and population level media effects. In particular, Prof. Falk is interested in predicting behavior change following exposure to persuasive messages and in understanding what makes successful ideas spread (e.g. through social networks, through cultures). Prof. Falk is also interested in developing methods to predict the efficacy of persuasive communication at the population level. At present, much of her research focuses on health communication, including recent work exploring neural predictors of increased sunscreen use, neural predictors of smoking reduction, and linking neural responses to health messages to population level behavioral outcomes; other areas of interest include political communication, cross-cultural communication, and the spread of culture, social norms and sticky ideas. Prof. Falk’s work has been funded by NCI, NICHD, NIDA/the NIH Director’s New Innovator Award, ARL, DARPA and ONR. Prior to her doctoral work, Prof. Falk was a Fulbright Fellow in health policy, studying health communication in Canada. She received her bachelor’s degree in Neuroscience from Brown University, and her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA).

Research Scientists

Matt O'Donnell
Matt is a Research Scientist at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. His research background includes corpus linguistics, natural language processing and data mining with a focus on extracting linguistic patterns and networks from large textual databases (or corpora). He is interested in combining linguistic analyses of media language and persuasive discourse with behavioral and neuroscience approaches.
Nicole Cooper
Nicole is a research director at the Annenberg School for Communication. She received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the Neuroscience Graduate Group at the University of Pennsylvania in 2013. Nicole’s research investigates the neural mechanisms of behavior change and decision making, and focuses particularly on the role of the medial prefrontal cortex.
Yoona Kang
Yoona is a research director at the Annenberg School for Communication. Her research investigates psychological and neural mechanisms that support the development and changes in social cognition, emotions, and health outcomes. Her main research interests are in 1) linking social cognitive and affective processing in the brain to health outcomes, and 2) designing interventions that guide adaptive changes in social processing to promote emotional and physical wellbeing. Yoona’s work draws conceptual and methodological tools from Psychology, Cognitive Neuroscience, Contemplative Science, and Health Communication. She examines converging evidence across a wide range of tools, including first person reports, implicit measures, behavioral outcomes, and neuroimaging results (fMRI, fNIRS, EEG). Yoona received her PhD in Psychology from Yale University and BA in Psychology from UCLA. During her doctoral program, she also worked with clinical neuroscientists and contemplative scientists at Brown University as a visiting scholar.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Shannon Burns
Shannon studies the processes through which people “get on the same page” as each other in conversation and discussion, and the extent to which psychological alignment is useful or not. For this work she uses largely dynamic analysis approaches for neuroimaging, behavioral research, and linguistic assessment. Shannon received her B.A. in psychology from Pomona College, and her Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Dani Cosme
Dani is a postdoctoral researcher at the Annenberg School for Communication. Her research focuses on cognitive and motivational factors that support self-control and healthy decision making. The overarching goal of Dani’s research is to use neuroscience to design and evaluate translational interventions that facilitate behavior change and improve health and well-being across the lifespan. She received her B.S. from Chapman University, her M.S. from Stockholm University (Sweden), and her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Oregon.
Bruce Doré
Bruce is interested in the regulation of positive emotion in health and psychopathology. He received his B.Sc. from the University of Guelph, and his PhD in Psychology at Columbia University under the support of an NSERC graduate fellowship. In his research, he uses behavioral, neuroimaging, and large-scale observational methods to ask questions about the motivational, cognitive, and brain processes that determine how we respond to and recover from emotional events. Current projects investigate the cognitive and brain processes that underlie our ability to, ‘look on the bright side,’ in response to negative life experiences, the motivational factors that influence when and how we choose to regulate our emotions, and how these abilities and motivations change from young to older adulthood.
Nina Lauharatanahirun
Nina is a postdoctoral researcher at the Annenberg School for Communication and U.S. Army Research Laboratory. She received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience and Biological Psychology at Virginia Tech in 2017. Using behavioral economic models and neuroimaging methods, Nina is broadly interested in understanding the developmental pathways of social and cognitive processes underlying risky decision-making in both adolescents and adults. Her research aims to understand the inter-subject variability and temporal dynamics of neurobehavioral systems that subserve complex decision-making. This research may identify potential pathways for intervention and reduce health risk behaviors that lead to poor outcomes.
Brad Mattan
Brad is a postdoctoral researcher at the Annenberg School for Communication. He received his B.A. from the University of Notre Dame, his M.A. from the University of Chicago, and his Ph.D. from the University of Birmingham (U.K.). Brad is currently interested in understanding the links between social status, inequity, and health-related behaviors/outcomes. In particular, he is interested in how the relationship between inequality and health outcomes may be explained by stress and neural responses to health-related cues (e.g., cigarette ads). Prior to joining the CN Lab, Brad spent some time as a postdoc with the IFSN Lab using fMRI, TMS, and implicit/self-report methods to examine how status cues are perceived and how they influence the way we evaluate and pay attention to others.

Graduate Students

Kristin Shumaker
Kristin is a doctoral student in the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. She is interested in using neuroimaging methods, including fMRI and fNIRS, to examine the neural mechanisms of message propagation, social influence and narrative persuasion in health messaging and cultural participation.

Rui Pei
Rui (pronounced “ray”) is a doctoral student at the Annenberg School for Communication at University of Pennsylvania. Rui is interested in communication strategies that alter the health-related attitudes, opinions, and behaviors, especially areas such as adolescent decision-making, technology-based communications, social media and well-being. She hopes to combine neuroscience and psychology methodologies and investigate how social factors influence cognition and behavior in the field of health communication.

Prateekshit Pandey
Prateekshit Pandey joined the lab as doctoral student in Fall 2016. He is interested in working on understanding the effects of online social media on human social behavior. He has completed a Bachelor of Technology degree in Computer Science and Engineering from Indraprastha Institute of Information Technology, New Delhi. During his undergrad years, he was actively involved in research areas of deep machine learning, biometrics and image processing.

Jacob Parelman
 Jake is a doctoral student at the Annenberg School for Communication. Jake is interested in discovering what the brain can tell us about how individuals and groups receive, process and share information. Jacob is particularly interested in understanding how social factors, like network characteristics or group norms, and messaging effects, like humor and fear tactics, affect neural activity and behavior, especially as they relate to the evaluation of news and media. Before coming to the lab Jake worked as a lab manager at the Institute of Cognitive Science at CU Boulder, where he also received his BA in 2014.

Keana Richards
Keana is a doctoral researcher studying psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Her research is focused on understanding how social identity and social context affect economic and health decisions at different levels of analysis (e.g., as manifested in behavioral or neural responses). Prior to joining the lab, Keana earned her B.A. in Psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park.

Mia Jovanova
Mia Jovanova is a doctoral student at the Annenberg School for Communication. Mia is interested in integrating neuroimaging, behavioral and network analysis methods to examine how brain dynamics and social factors interact at multiple levels to predict health related behavior. Prior to joining the lab, Mia conducted research at the health communication lab at Cornell University, where she graduated in 2017.

Mary Andrews
Mary Andrews is a doctoral student studying health communication at the Annenberg School for Communication. She uses neuroscience, behavioral, and other communication research to study how health related messages and social networks influence health behavior at the individual, group, and population level. Mary’s main interest is predicting how exposure to advertisements for unhealthy products including tobacco, sugary drinks, and fast food impact health behavior and health outcomes in minority populations. She also researches how to design effective public service announcements for specific communities.

Darin Johnson
Darin Johnson is a doctoral student at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania. His interests are at the intersection of brain, identity, and health. Darin is specifically interested in understanding how people with marginalized identities code switch, and how they attempt to understand the minds of people around them. Prior to joining the lab, Darin completed his B.S. in Neuroscience with additional majors in Spanish and Medicine Science & The Humanities at Johns Hopkins University, as well as his M.A. in International Education at the Universidad de Alcalá.

Jeesung Ahn
Jeesung is a doctoral student studying Psychology broadly interested in using brain network analyses to predict people’s behavior changes after exposure to persuasive messages. She is particularly interested in finding out which attributes of digital media content can most effectively change health-impairing, risky, and antisocial behaviors and how individual differences facilitate or keep people from changing their decisions. Jeesung aims to use predictions about people’s health behavior to make more effective health messages that improve both physical and mental aspects of public health. Prior to joining the lab, she completed her B.A. in Psychology and B.S. in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at Korea University, as well as her M.S. in Cognitive Science at Yonsei University.

Lab Managers & Research Coordinators

José Carreras-Tartak
José is a co-lab manager and research coordinator for the CN Lab. He graduated from the University of Pennsylvania with a BA in Communication. His previous research looked at the framing and victim portrayals of hurricane news coverage using computational textual analysis, and how message sensation value and sensation-seeking relate to adolescents’ verbal responses towards anti-smoking messages. He is interested in learning more about how multidisciplinary approaches can be used to predict behavior change in response to persuasive messages.
Alexandra Paul
Ally is a co-lab manager and research coordinator for the CN Lab. She graduated from Swarthmore College with a BA in Psychology. Her previous research has looked at: the effects of social norms on motivation and short term memory; the role of anticipated regret in decision-making among clinical populations; and use of music-based, mindful meditation during a preoperative informed consent process. She is interested in learning more about large-scale interventions that effectively communicate medical information and promote healthier lifestyle choices.
Silicia Lomax
LoLo is a research coordinator for the CN lab. She received her BA in Global Health from the University of Pennsylvania in 2018 and is currently a master’s students in their public health program. She previously researched children’s numerical cognition, the effects of patient reported outcomes on quality of life for children, and the effects of socio-economic status on development. She is interested in learning more about the ways that various social factors and groups affect health behaviors and how to improve those behaviors.

 Undergraduate Research Assistants

  • Ana Acevedo
  • Esther Fleischer


Former Postdoctoral Fellows:
  • Emile Bruneau: Emile is the Director of the Peace and Conflict Neuroscience Lab at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Jason Coronel: Jason is an Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University.
  • Agnes Jasinska: Agnes is a Data Services Specialist at Bucknell University.
  • Teresa Pegors: Teresa is an Assistant Professor at Azusa Pacific University.
  • Ralf Schmälzle: Ralf is an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University.
  • Steven Tompson: Steve is a Behavioral Data Scientist at Guild Education.
Former Graduate Students:
  • Joe Bayer: Joe is an Assistant Professor at The Ohio State University.
  • Elisa Baek: Elisa is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at UCLA.
  • Josh Carp: Josh is a software engineer for the Democratic National Committee.
  • Chris Cascio: Chris is an Assistant Professor at the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
  • Minji Kim: Minji is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of California, San Francisco.
  • Elissa Kranzler: Elissa is a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Wharton Risk Management and Decision Processes Center.
  • Jiaying Liu: Jiaying is an Assistant Professor at the University of Georgia.
  • Christin Scholz: Christin is an Assistant Professor at the University of Amsterdam.
Former Lab Managers:
  • Liz Beard: Liz is pursuing a PhD in Decision Neuroscience at Fox School of Business at Temple University.
  • Melis Çakar: Melis is pursuing a PhD in Neuroscience at UCLA.
  • Susan Hao: Susan is pursuing a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Lynda Lin: Lynda is pursuing a PhD in Psychology at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
  • Frank Tinney: Frank received his M.D. from Wayne State University and is currently a Surgery Resident at the Henry Ford Hospital
Former Research Staff:
  • JP Obley (former programmer for the CN Lab): JP is a Senior UX Engineer at DeepField.
  • Nick Wasylyshyn (former research associate for the CN Lab): Nick is an Algebra Teacher for the Indianapolis Public Schools.

Past Research Assistants

  • Anna Waldzinska
  • Gabrielle Rosenzweig
  • Grace Ringlein
  • Hadeel Saab
  • Kim Siew
  • Lizette Grajales
  • Meredith Mitchell
  • Susan Zhang
  • Cristine Oh
  • Kinari Shah
  • Becky Lau
  • Alison Sagon
  • Gabrielle Cheng
  • Larisa Svintsitski
  • Caroline Meuser
  • Jackie Cho
  • Lauren Wilson
  • Megan Black
  • Alexander Riccio
  • Julia Shteyngardt



Matthew Lieberman, Ph.D.
Lab Website

Elliot Berkman, Ph.D.
Lab Website

René Weber, Ph.D., M.D.
Lab Website

Sara Konrath, Ph.D.
Lab Website