Kevin Ochsner, Ph.D.
Kevin received his bachelor's degree summa cum laude in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his Masters and Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard University. He has also received postdoctoral training in social psychology at Harvard (in lab of Daniel Gilbert) and functional neuroimaging at Stanford University (in lab of John Gabrieli, now at MIT).
He currently is Professor and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Psychology at Columbia University. Kevin's research interests include the psychological and neural processes involved in emotion, self-control, and person perception. All of his work employs a social cognitive neuroscience approach that seeks to integrate the theories and methods of social psychology on the one hand, and cognitive neuroscience on the other.
Kevin is a recipient of the Young Investigator Award from The Cognitive Neuroscience Society, Columbia University’s Lenfest Distinguished Faculty Award, and the APA Division 3 New Investigator Award. In 2010 Kevin was identified as 27th most cited Social Psychologist of all time, corrected for stage of career, in an article on citation impact by Nosek et al. published in PSPB. In 2008 Kevin was identified as the most cited Assistant Professor in Social Psychology in an article published in SPSP’s Diologue.
Along with Nim Tottenham, Kevin is Co-Director of the Psychology Undergraduate Honor’s Program. His teaching includes seminars on social cognitive neuroscience as well as a lecture course on experimental psychological methods for studying emotion and social cognition.
Noga is Fullbright Scholar who studied received her Ph.D. from Ben Gurion University working with Avishai Henik and completed post-doctoral training at the Weitzman Institute in the lab of Yadin Dudai. She has core research interests in the relationship between executive control and emotion and how their regulatory interactions are influenced by training and learning.
Chelsea is an NRSA postdoctoral fellow whose research focuses on how emotion influences judgment and decision-making across multiple domains, including moral behavior, consumer decision-making, and autobiographical memory. To investigate these processes, she utilizes multiple methods, including implicit and explicit behavioral measures, functional neuroimaging, and large-scale field studies. Chelsea received her Ph.D. from Cornell University in 2014, where she worked primarily with David Pizarro, BJ Casey, and Tom Gilovich.
Laura is an NRSA post-doctoral fellow who received her Ph.D. in Psychology from Rutgers University working in the lab of Mauricio Delgado, where she examined the effect of emotion regulation on financial risk-taking and the neural processing of rewards. Laura’s current research examines how we can use emotion regulation strategies to decrease the appetitive pull of the rewards and promote controlled behavior. More broadly, she is interested in delineating different types of emotion regulation based on the nature of their underlying processes, which can be explicit, implicit, or a combination of the two.
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 M.A. 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.
Noam is a 5th year graduate student broadly interested in how people's thoughts, feelings, and behavior shape and are shaped by their social networks and positions within them. This line of research integrates theories and methods from social psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and sociology to investigate questions like how our brains track group members' status (i.e., position within the social network), why certain group members are more accurate (or systematically biased) in predicting how they are perceived by others, and other curiosities that keep him up at night. In another line of research, Noam studies how people's emotional states influence their appetitive drives and our ability to regulate them. Prior to graduate school Noam researched causes of the precipitous increase in autism prevalence with the Understanding Autism group at Columbia University, led by Dr. Peter Bearman.
Seth is an NSF graduate fellow interested in the factors that influence the success of self-regulation including mood, cognitive load and the order in which we experience affect-arousing events. He received his B.S. in Brain and Cognitive Sciences from the University of Rochester in 2009. Prior to joining the lab, Seth worked at the National Institute of Mental Health on a project studying food perception in lean and obese individuals with Drs. Alex Martin, Kevin Hall, and Kyle Simmons.
Rebecca is and NRSA pre-doctoral fellow interested in the power of social influence to change our preferences and emotions in both developmental and adult populations. She researches these topics at the neural and behavioral levels and is interested in applications of the insights of basic science to real world contexts (e.g. education). She received her B.A. in History from New York University, an M.A. in Teaching from UC Santa Cruz, and an M.Ed. in Mind, Brain, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Prior to joining the lab, Rebecca worked in John Gabrieli's lab at MIT on executive functioning and memory development imaging studies.
Jocelyn is interested in the ways in which we socially regulate others, including their emotions, and how that relates to other capabilities, such as wisdom and empathy. She is a former RA in the lab and has prior experience working on various aspects of emotion and emotion regulation. Prior to being in the lab, she received a B.F.A. in Painting through a joint program with the University of San Francisco and the California College of the Arts. She began studying psychology as a post-baccalaureate student at Columbia University.
Nir’s research examines the way in which we perceive, affectively respond to, draw inferences about and mentally represent, other people. Prior to joining the lab he was a research assistant in the lab of Rebecca Saxe at MIT and worked for an internet provider in Uganda.
Jochen is a senior imaging data analyst. He brings his all-around elfin magic and special expertise in mathematics and programming to the Lab to assist with and support the analysis and visualization of data. Jochen has been a member of Prof. Ochsner's lab since 2008, and he is the go-to person for implementing processing and analysis of fMRI data, mainly in Matlab. His efforts have resulted in the publicly available toolbox NeuroElf. Before coming to the lab, Jochen worked at Brain Innovation, the makers of BrainVoyager, and before that he worked for four years at the neuroimaging core facility at the University Hospital in Aachen, Germany. Next to his working on algorithms and code implementation, Jochen has a strong interest in social phenomena in general.
Chelsea received her BA in psychology from Vassar College in 2014, and is now a lab manager and research assistant. She is currently working on studies that investigate emotion regulation across the lifespan, as well as in patients with depression and suicidal tendencies. Her main research interests lie in the roles of attentional control and self-focus in emotion regulation, and how these roles differ between clinical and non-clinical populations, or change as we age. Prior to coming to Columbia, Chelsea worked as a research assistant with Michele Tugade at Vassar College and with Pierfilippo de Sanctis at Albert Einstein College of Medicine.
Former Graduate Students
Jenny Porter was a graduate student in from 2011-2013. Her work focused on the social, cognitive, and developmental factors and perceptual cues that impact empathic accuracy in adults and adolescents. Jenny is now a clinical research assistant and adjunct professor at Queens College. Prior to coming to the lab she received her B.S. in Brain, Behavior & Cognitive Sciences from the University of Michigan in 2008, and worked with Alex Todorov at Princeton University and with Lisa Feldman Barrett at Northeastern University.
Bryan received his Ph.D. in the lab in 2012 and has interests in the temporal dynamics of emotion regulation and how it can be improved in people suffering from borderline personality disorder or major depression. In addition, he is interested in social cognition more generally and the role that medial prefrontal cortex plays in attributions about self and others. Prior to coming to Columbia he worked as a research assistant with Todd Heatherton at Dartmouth College. He is currently a post-doctoral fellow with Harold Koenigsberg at the Mt. Sinai School of Medicine.
Jen received her B.A. from the University of Virginia in 2005, and received her Ph.D. in the lab in 2013. As an NRSA pre-doctoral fellow, her work used multiple approaches (e.g., behavioral paradigms, fMRI) to examine what factors enhance and diminish effect emotion regulation. Her main focus is the developmental trajectory of emotional reactivity and regulation, as well as how emotion regulation work may be applied to at-risk groups and individuals with psychopathology (e.g., BPD patients). Prior to coming to Columbia, she worked as a research assistant with Alex Martin at NIMH. She subsequently was a post-doctoral fellow with Nim Tottenham and in March 2016 will began a position as Assistant Professor of Psychology at UCLA.
Elina received her PhD in the lab in 2013 after starting her graduate career in the lab of Janet Metcalfe. She was interested in understanding and facilitating effective self-regulation in the successful pursuit of one's goals. Elina obtained a BA and Masters degree on Mathematics and Philosophy from the University of Oxford, UK. She was born and raised in Athens, Greece, where she currently resides and works as a Psychologist.
Jamil was an Autism Speaks fellow who received his Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2010 and subsequently was a postdoctoral fellow with Jason Mitchell at the Harvard Center for Brain Science. His research focuses on the cognitive and neural bases of social behavior, particularly w.r.t. empathy and empathic accuracy, social influence, and altruism. He is currently Assistant Professor of Psychology at Stanfor University where he directs the Stanford Social Neuroscience Laboratory.
Hedy was an NSF graduate research fellow who received her Ph.D. from Columbia University in 2009, was a post-doc for one year, and now is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Yale where she directs the Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience Laboratory. She continues to collaborate on projects examining the regulation of appetitive desires in healthy adults and in substance abusers as well as meta-analyses of the neural systems underlying social cognition and emotion regulation.
Josh received his Ph.D. in Spring 2008 after starting his Ph.D. creeer in the lab or Robert and worked on projects examining the role of the body (i.e. somatic and behavioral expression) in emotion and emotion regulation. Josh has broad interests in the nature of psychological theories, and theory-building more generally. After receiving his PhD he was a Term Assistant Professor at Barnard college and currently is director of research for the Neuroleadership Institute.
Micheal is Fulbright Scholar and Rothschild fellow who studied psychology and economics in Tel Aviv University and then went on to do a Ph.D. in social neuroscience under the supervision of Nira Liberman from Tel Aviv University and Anat Maril from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Generally speaking, his research is on the interaction between humans' cultural-symbolic and preverbal cognition. Sounds interesting. In his free time, he doesn't really do much. He really should find new hobbies. Perhaps fishing?
Ajay received his Ph.D. from UCLA in 2008, was a post-doc in the lab for approximately two years and then worked as a research scientist in the lab of Lisa Feldmann-Barrett. He has interests in the neural bases of social cognition, emotion and learning and in developing new analytic and computational methods to study their interactions. He is currently Assistant Professor of Psychology at Pomona College.
Dario received his Ph.D. from the University of Bern in 2010 and was a post-doc in the lab from 2011-2012. His research in the lab focused on the role of visual strategies during empathic judgments and emotion regulation tasks. He is currently a post-doctoral researcher in Prof. Marianne Schmid Mast's lab at the University of Lausanne.
Kim was a post-doctoral fellow in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars Program from 2007-2009. She had interests in the neural bases of social cognition, the mirror system, perspective taking, interpersonal relationships and health. She is currently staff member for the House Science, Space and Technology Committee in Washington D.C.
Ethan was a post-doctoral fellow from 2007-2008 and is now an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan where he directs the Emotion and Self Control Lab. He has collaborated on various projects examining the use of different forms of cognitive construal (e.g. those involve accepting as opposed to reinterpreting the meaning of stimuli) to regulate emotion.
Andreas was a post-doc from 2005-2007 and is now an Associate Professor at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden where he directs the Emotion Lab. He collaborated on projects examining the behavioral and neural mechanisms mediating emotions in social contexts, including the ways in which cognitive goals and strategies can affect the emotional processes involved in the perception of, and learning from, others.
Former Research Assistants
Peter Franz was a Lab Manager, primarily working on the lab's developmental neuroimaging projects. His main research interests lie in the development of cognitive emotion regulation in youth. He is specifically interested in the ways that early environments and parent-child relationships promote adaptive regulatory behaviors in adolescence. Peter worked on independent projects examining the effects of daily stress, family support, and socioeconomic status on the neural correlates of emotion regulation in youth. In Fall 2015 he began graduate studies in Clinical and Developmental Psychology at Harvard University, working primarily in the lab of Matthew Nock.
Katie graduated from Columbia in 2010 with a BA in psychology. Her work focuses on the developmental trajectory of appetitive and aversive emotion regulation in children and adolescents. She is now a graduate student at Harvard University in the lab of Leah Somerville.
Alexa Hubbard was a lab manager and research assistant from 2012-2014. Alexa worked primarily on projects related to cognitive emotion regulation in youth, the elderly, and individuals suffering from borderline personality disorder, alcoholism, or depression. She is now a graduate student in the social psychology program at New York University working in the lab of Yaacov Trope.
Rich was a research assistant from 2009-2011 after receiving his BA in psychology from Princeton University, where he worked in the lab of Alex Todorov. He studied craving regulation in cigarette smokers and methamphetamine users. He currently is a PhD candidate at Dartmouth College in the lab of Todd Heatherton.
Chuk was a research assistant from 2009-2010 and is now working at the Substance Treatment and Research Service (S.T.A.R.S) at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, where he investigates the role of stress sensitivity in perpetuating cocaine use after abstinence.
Katherine was a research assistant and graduate of Columbia with a BA in Psychology who won the prestigious Jennifer A Pack Prize. She worked on studies of craving regulation in substance abusing populations, and emotion regulation in borderline personality disorder and children. She now resides in Norway where she is a Ph.D. student at the University of Oslo.
Peter was a research assistant from 2007-2008 after receiving his BA from Columbia. He worked on studies of emotion regulation, pain regulation, and their relationship to addiction. He was a graduate student with Alex Todorov in Psychology at Princeton University and now is a post-doc at NYU in the lab of Jay van Bavel.
Brent was the lab manager and a research assistant working on projects examining the neural bases of emotion regulation and pain. Brent was a U. of Michigan undergrad and after graduating, managed the lab of Dr. Steve Taylor. After leaving the lab Brent was a graduate student in the lab of Jennifer Beer at the University of Texas at Austin and currently is a post-doctoral fellow at Stanford University.
Matthew was once the lab’s systems administrator, go-to person for computing and programming needs, and fMRI data analyst. Matt has a sardonic wit and the most complete collection of politically savvy t-shirts this side of the Hudson. He subsequently was a graduate student in the Department of Psychology at Columbia working with Hakwan Lau.
Sonja was the lab manager, and in that role worked on various projects related to stress and cognition and emotion regulation. She has a master’s degree in sociology and was the manager for the Davachi Lab at NYU prior to moving uptown. She currently works at Smart Information Flow Technologies where she develops mobile applications merging evidence-based psychological theories with new technologies to provide creative solutions for behavioral problems related to health and lifestyle.
Lisa Feldmann-Barrett, Ph.D. website
Jennifer Bartz, Ph.D. website
Jennifer Beer, Ph.D. website
Peter Bearman, Ph.D.
Niall Bolger, Ph.D. website
B.J. Casey, Ph.D. website
Joan Chiao, Ph.D. website
Geraldine Downey, Ph.D. website
Michael Green, Ph.D. website
John Gabrieli, Ph.D. website
James Gross, Ph.D. website