MASC Lab People

Director: Sean M. Laurent 

Current Graduate Students

Screen Shot 2017-07-11 at 5.54.24 PMShoko Watanabe, M.S.  CV

Shoko is a third year Ph.D. student. She was born in Japan and moved to Hawaii when she was in sixth grade. She completed middle and high school in Hawaii and moved to Tulsa, Oklahoma where she studied theology at Oral Roberts University. Shoko is also a certified math teacher with an M.S. in Educational Psychology from Oklahoma State University. Besides teaching, Shoko has explored other careers in banking and restaurant management industries, but she ultimately realized that her passion was in psychology and philosophy. Shoko’s research questions include: Can we attain moral perfection? When and why do people promote forgiveness? What roles do religion, perception of free will, motives for atoning, and perspective-taking play in promoting or inhibiting forgiveness? What are the contextual factors that influence perceptions of moral hypocrisy and when do people forgive or punish others for their hypocrisy? Are moral disgust and anger distinguishable emotions? Does a moral disgust or anger reaction underlie prejudicial attitudes toward interracial couples? What role does trust play in formation and maintenance of friendship and leadership within a group? Outside of these topics, Shoko enjoys traveling, learning foreign languages, playing video games, and cooking.

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Drew Weiner, B.A.  

Drew is a second-year master’s student. In 2017, he graduated from Creighton University with a Bachelor of Arts, majoring in psychology and Spanish and Hispanic studies. His primary research interests revolve around wealth inequality and the social perception of individuals from varying socioeconomic statuses. He is currently working on a program of research to distinguish how individuals with different levels of wealth are blamed and praised and to identify the mechanisms driving these judgments. His other interests include just-world beliefs, victim blaming, and the mechanisms underlying moral judgments.

Graduate Student Collaborators


Jun-Yeob Kim: Jun-Yeob is a second-year master’s student working with Dr. Daniel Newman in the area of Industrial and Organizational Psychology. He received B.A. in Psychology and Philosophy from the Catholic University of Korea in 2016. He is interested in exploring the ways that people’s personality traits and characteristics, such as gender and culture, influence their perceptions of leaders. Additionally, he is interested in how the perceiver and leader traits interact. He is currently working on a project involving how mortality salience works through need for belief in a just world to affect victim blaming.


Elizabeth Lozano: Liz is a third year Ph.D. student in the social psychology program at UIUC. Her interests include understanding how seeing others blame (or take responsibility) for outcomes they caused influences beliefs that other, unrelated agents will also shift blame. Currently, she is working with R. Chris Fraley on topics related to attachment, with a particular interest in how attachment works for donor-conceived individuals.

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Brandon Reich: Brandon Reich recently earned his doctorate in Marketing at the University of Oregon, where he focused on consumer psychology. He has recently joined the faculty at Portland State University.

Brandon’s overarching area of research centers around ethics (questions of right and wrong) in consumer spaces. Consumers and marketers usually consider ethics when making decisions, and Brandon’s research examines how these considerations shape consumer and societal well-being. He draws from theories of moral reasoning, inference making, and social cognition to develop two interrelated lines of research in this domain: (1) Marketplace blame and consumer moral judgment, (2) Sustainability through alternative consumption.

Additional details about Brandon’s research, along with a link to his CV, can be found on his webpage (

Julia Edited

Julia Spielmann: Julia received her BSc in Psychology from Humboldt University in Berlin and an MSc in Health and Social Psychology from Maastricht University. Currently, Julia is pursuing a PhD in Social Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Julia is interested in topics such as stigma and prejudice, with an emphasis on intersectionality (e.g., between race, sexual orientation, and gender). Her work with Dr. Chadly Stern focuses on the relationship between ideology and psychological outcomes (e.g., life satisfaction), and she is currently collaborating with the MASC Lab on research investigating the role of moral emotions (e.g., disgust and/or anger) in perceptions of interracial couples.


Minjae Seo: Minjae is a third-year doctoral student in the social psychology program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Political Science at Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea. She is interested in cultural universals and variations in values, moral perceptions, and behaviors. She is currently working on projects related to moral emotions, intercultural relationships, and cultural differences in immoral behaviors and perceptions of hypocrisy.

Shiyu Yang

Shiyu Yang: Shiyu is a third year Ph.D student at the Gies College of Business of UIUC. She received her BA in Economics, BS in Psychology (double major) and MA in Management from Peking University. Currently she is working on a project looking at how positive moral emotions transform people’s outlook on themselves as well as on the world, from which differential moral judgments and behaviors may ensue. Her passion in examining the micro foundations of morality also extends to discussions about societal institutions in a cross cultural context. She loves nature and art, and she believes in the value of diversity. Her favorite quote is from the anthropologist Wade Davis “The world in which you were born is just one model of reality. Other cultures are not failed attempts at being you; they are unique manifestations of the human spirit.”

HanyHany Zayed: Hany is from Cairo, Egypt, and is a second year PhD student in Sociology at UIUC. He holds a bachelor’s degree in Finance, Economics, and Innovation Management and a master’s degree in Politics, Economics, and Philosophy. Ignited and crystallized by the Egyptian Revolution of 2011, his research interests lie primarily at the intersection of social movements, social psychology, and the sociology of media. Currently, he is working with the MASC Lab on a project investigating the effects of message and sender attributes on support for social movements.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

BreenKiley Breen: Kiley is currently majoring in psychology with a minor in leadership, communication, and philosophy. After graduating, she plans to go to graduate school to obtain a PhD in psychology. Her main interests are in in moral decision making as well as its function and representation in the brain. Other topics that interest her are consciousness, theory of mind, and cognitive neuroscience. A fun fact about Kiley is that she hopes to one day own and operate an animal sanctuary.

PranavPranav Pamidighantam: Pranav  is currently  pursuing degrees in computer science/statistics and psychology. After graduating he plans to attend graduate school and work toward a doctoral degree in statistics, psychology, or quantitative psychology. In addition to his studies, Pranav is currently employed at Schomer and Associates, Inc., an acoustical engineering and noise control consulting firm.

Screen Shot 2017-06-29 at 1.06.50 PM.pngSaheli Sheth: Saheli is a sophomore majoring in Psychology and considering a dual major. She’s from the wonderful town of Peoria, best known for its irresistible cornfields! A fun fact about Saheli is that her first name means “friend,” and last name means “boss,” so she likes to joke that it makes her a bossy friend. Another random tidbit is that she loves inspirational quotes, such as: “The sign of a beautiful person is that they always see the beauty in others.” Keep smiling! 🙂

AboorvaAboorva Sivasankaran: Aboorva is currently a Junior working towards her degree in psychology, and is also a LAS James Honors Scholar. She joined the MASC lab after taking a class in moral psychology because of her interest in social psychology and her fascination by how people interact with each other and why. After graduation, she hopes to travel outside the United States before going to graduate school. Fun Fact: She is currently taking ASL classes at the University.

Past Undergraduate Lab Members

Alyssa Castronovo: Alyssa graduated in 2018 with a double-major in psychology and political science. Currently, she is applying to a variety of internships (e.g., at the White House and Supreme Court) and plans to enter law school in the near future.

Jose Gonzalez: Jose was a research assistant from 2016-2018 and is currently pursuing a goal of pursuing research experience in neuroscience.

Lucy Park: Lucy was a research assistant from 2016 to 2017 and is currently majoring in Psychology with an intended concentration is Organizational Psychology at U of I.

Priyanka Patel: Priyanka graduated in the spring of 2018 and is currently applying for entry to medical school. Best of luck, Priya! 🙂

Jessica Resnick: Jessica graduated in 2017 with a major in Psychology (Social/Personality Psychology concentration) and a minor in Communication. She is now pursuing a career in counseling.

Jessica Vega: Jessica graduated in the spring of 2018 and is currently working for Teach for America. Congratulations on getting this excellent job!

Carol Zhou: Carol (Yi Zhou) was a research assistant from 2016 to 2107, and is currently a third year Psychology major at UIUC.

Lab Photos

End of Semester Pizza Party (May 2017)