Dr. Sean Laurent


Dr. Laurent graduated from the University of Massachusetts and Commonwealth Honors College in 2004. While attending college, he worked as a research assistant in Dr. Linda Isbell’s lab, then spent a year after graduation working under the supervision of Dr. Paula Pietromonaco. In 2005, he moved on to the University of Oregon, where he worked under the guidance of Dr. Sara Hodges, studying topics related to empathy and perspective taking.

Dr. Laurent received his Ph.D. in social psychology from UO in 2010 and then worked for three years as an Assistant Lecturer in the Psychology Department at the University of Wyoming. After returning to the University of Oregon as an instructor from 2013-2016, he joined the Department of Psychology at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign in 2016. Dr. Laurent studies a variety of topics related to social cognition and morality.

Current Graduate Students

Da Eun Han, M.A.  

Da Eun joined the MASC lab in 2018. She received her BS in Chinese Language and Literature, but hardly speaks Chinese, which probably led her to double major in Psychology. She received her MA in psychology at Yonsei University in South Korea. She has been working on diverse topics such as culture, moral self, praise/blame, social status, emotions, and other topics. In particular, Da Eun is interested in how people form moral judgments, what underlies moral behavior, and the relationship between morality and an internal/external focus on the self.

Shoko Watanabe, M.S.*2 CV

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Shoko joined the MASC lab a in the Fall of 2016. She was born in Japan and moved to Hawaii 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’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? What role does trust play in formation and maintenance of friendship and leadership within a group?

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. Outside of these topics, Shoko enjoys traveling, learning foreign languages, playing video games, and cooking.

Drew Weiner  

Drew joined the MASC Lab in 2017 (Note: Drew was one of the first students admitted to the department’s new Master’s in Psychological Science program; he was also admitted to the Ph.D. program starting Fall 2019). He graduated from Creighton University in 2017 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.

MASC Lab Collaborators

Jun-Yeob Kim

 Jun-Yeob (also one of the first students admitted to the MPS program and admitted to the Ph.D. program for Fall 2019) is studying Industrial/Organizational psychology under the supervision of Dr. Daniel Newman. He received his 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 perceiver and leader traits interact. He is currently working on a project involving how thinking about death influences victim blaming through promoting the need to believe that the world is just.

Elizabeth Lozano, M.S.


Liz is a 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 Dr. R. Chris Fraley on topics related to attachment, with a particular interest in how attachment works for donor-conceived individuals.

Brandon Reich, Ph.D.  Webpage

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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.

Julia Spielmann, M.S.

Julia Edited

Julia received her BSc in Psychology from Humboldt University in Berlin and an MSc in Health and Social Psychology from Maastricht University. Julia is pursuing a Ph.D. in Social Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, working under the supervision of Chadly Stern. 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.

Fernando Sanchez, M.S.

Fernando Sanchez Hernandez is a Ph.D. student in developmental psychology, working under the supervision of Dr. Dan Hyde. After receiving a B.A. in Jazz studies from the University of New Orleans, he moved to Minneapolis to work at the Institute of Child Development where he worked with Dr. Albert Yonas and Dr. Melissa Koenig. Fernando uses a developmental approach to examine social cognition, informed by neuroscience and behavioral economics methods. He is particularly interested in understanding mechanisms of moral cognition such as agency perception, mental state attribution, and negativity bias.

Minjae Seo, M.S.

Minjae is a doctoral student in the social psychology program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she works under the supervision of Dr. Dov Cohen. She completed her undergraduate degree in Psychology and Political Science at Yonsei University in 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, M.A.

Shiyu is a Ph.D student at the Gies College of Business of UIUC. She received undergraduate degrees in Economics and Psychology (double major) and an M.A. 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. Her passion in examining the micro foundations of morality also extends to discussions about societal institutions in cross-cultural contexts. She loves nature and art and 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.”

Hany Zayed, M.S.

Hany is from Cairo, Egypt, and is a 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


Kiley Breen 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.


Ariana Daneshbodi is currently a junior studying Social Psychology and Interpersonal Communication. She have been involved in research since my first year at UIUC and her goal is to become a professor of social psychology (she will be applying to programs in Fall of 2019 – interested programs should know – she will be an excellent candidate!). Aside from psychology, one of her passions is traveling and this past fall she studied abroad in Italy, one of the 10 countries she has visited so far. Her hopes are to continue exploring the world and moving towards a PhD in the next few years to come.


Suryaa Gupta is a Sophomore studying Molecular and Cellular Biology and minoring in French. She has wide interests but would like to become a physician. Suryaa joined the MASC lab after working with children in the psychiatry department at Lurie’s Children’s Hospital. Suryaa loves to travel and immerse herself in different cultures. She studied abroad in France for a month and is hoping to return in the near future and would like to travel more in Europe before settling into her career. 


Koh Kobayashi is a first year student majoring in psychology and considering a dual major in statistics and a minor in communication. He was born in Yokohama, Japan and graduated high school from Greenwich, Connecticut. His main interest is in how culture and nationality affect people’s social and moral behavior. He is currently interested in the Industrial Organization concentration but is still uncertain about his future career path. His hobbies are photography, learning new languages, and community service.


Pranav Pamidighantam is currently  pursuing degrees in computer science/statistics and psychology and completing a research project with Dr. Laurent on the roles of skill and desire in perception of recklessness. After graduating he plans to attend graduate school and work toward a doctoral degree in statistics 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.

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Emma Schwartz is a first year student majoring in psychology and with a variety of interests within the field. Her goal is to one day receive a Ph.D. in either social or industrial/organizational psychology. Beyond her studies, her interests include hanging with friends and family, playing tennis, and studying people.

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Saheli Sheth is a junior majoring in Psychology and Business Management and has been with the MASC lab since her 2nd semester at UIUC. Outside of the MASC Lab, she is a workshop facilitator for the Illinois Leadership Center and a dancer on two dance teams. She loves sunrises and nature, and her favorite quote is the following: “See the light in others, and treat them as if that is all you see!”


Aboorva Sivasankaran is currently a senior 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 graduated in 2018 with a double-major in psychology and political science. Recently, she worked as a congressional intern and is now in the process of applying to law schools. Best of luck Alyssa!

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

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

Leslie Pardo graduated in the winter of 2018 and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Human Resources and Industrial Relations.

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

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

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

Lab Pizza Party Photos

End of Semester Pizza Party (May 2018)

End of Semester Pizza Party (May 2017)