Emily Falk
Phone: 215-573-1974
Office: 328 ASC
Emily Falk is an Associate 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 the research director of the CN lab 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. 

Postdoctoral Fellows

Yoona Kang
 Yoona is a postdoctoral researcher 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.
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.
Steve Tompson
Steve received his PhD in Social Psychology from the University of Michigan in 2016. Since then, he has been working as a postdoctoral scholar at the University of Pennsylvania and U.S. Army Research Laboratory. He uses neuroimaging and experimental methods to understand how people think about the self and their relationships, make choices, and engage in healthy behaviors. Along these lines, he has conducted research on how culture influences decision-making in consumer and health contexts, as well as how people learn and acquire knowledge about complex social relationships. Across all his research, a key theme is understanding how biological factors interact with social context to influence behavior.
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.

Research Staff

Nick Wasylyshyn
 Nick is a post-masters researcher contracting for the Army Research Lab. He received his masters in Mathematics from the University of Pennsylvania in 2016 and has joined the Falk lab to extend his expertise in machine learning to the field of neuroscience. He specializes in predicting behavior change from fMRI data.

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.
Elisa Baek
Elisa Baek is a doctoral candidate at the Annenberg School for Communication. She is interested in using neuroscience to understand the processes involved in information propagation and social influence. Her dissertation focuses on the role of the mentalizing system in information propagation.

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.

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.

Lab Managers & Research Coordinators

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.
Melis Çakar
Melis Çakar (pronounce “meh-lease cha-car”) is a co-lab manager and research coordinator for the CN Lab. She received her BA in Neuroscience from Pomona College in 2017. She previously researched the relationship between stress, depression, and neuroplasticity in rats and the role of verb aspect-dependent reactivation in memory reconsolidation in human subjects. Melis is currently interested in learning more about persuasive discourse and the neural predictors of behavioral change in response to persuasive messages.
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
  • José Carreras-Tartak
  • Lizette Grajales
  • Meredith Mitchell


Former Postdoctoral Fellows:

  • Emile Bruneau: Emile is the director of the Peace and Conflict Neuroscience Lab at the Annenberg School for Communication at the University of Pennsylvania.
  • Jason Coronel: Jason is an assistant professor at The Ohio State University.
  • Agnes Jasinska: Agnes is an assessment coordinator at the Office of Institutional Research and Planning 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.
Former Graduate Students:
  • Joe Bayer: Joe is an assistant professor at The Ohio State University.
  • Josh Carp: Josh is currently an innovation specialist at 18F.
  • 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 post-doc 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 Amsterdam School for Communication Research 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
  • Susan Hao: Susan is pursuing a PhD in Cognitive Neuroscience at the University of California, Berkeley.
  • Lynda Lin: Lynda is currently a graduate student in Psychology at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign.
  • Frank Tinney: Frank is currently a medical student at Wayne State University.
Former Programmer:
  • JP Obley: JP is currently a senior UX engineer at DeepField.

Past Research Assistants

  • Olivia Diong
  • 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