Kevin Ochsner, Ph.D.  [google scholar profile] Email

Kevin received his bachelor's degree summa cum laude in psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and his Masters degree and Ph.D. in psychology from Harvard University. He has also received postdoctoral training in social psychology at Harvard and functional neuroimaging at Stanford University.

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.

Interview with Pearson publishers about the origins of Dr. Ochsner’s interest in Psychology and the work in the SCN Lab. Recorded at APS 2007. (Scroll to right for interview).

Post-Doctoral Fellows

Michael Gilead
Micheal is a post-doc 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?

Chelsea Helion
Chelsea is a 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 Martin
Laura received her Ph.D. in Psychology in 2011. Her dissertation work with Mauricio Delgado examined the effect of emotion regulation on financial risk-taking and neural reward processing. In daily life, we encounter opportunities for immediate rewards, like enjoying French fries, that conflict with our long-term goals, like maintaining a healthy weight. Laura’s research examines how we can use emotion regulation strategies, techniques that change the intensity of our affect, 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 underling processes, which can be explicit, implicit, or a combination of the two.

Graduate Students

Bruce Doré
Bruce is a 6th year graduate student 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. 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 Zerubavel
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 Kallman
Seth is a 4th year graduate interested in the self-regulation of behavior. He is interested in the factors that may impair regulation, such as mood or cognitive load. Additionally, he is performing exploratory work to investigate the connection between successful regulation and well-being. 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 Martin
Rebecca is a fourth year graduate student interested in developmental changes in emotion regulation, and the influence of social feedback in changing emotion. Rebecca researches these topics at neural, behavioral, and applied levels of analysis. 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 Shu
Jocelyn is a third year student 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 postbaccalaureate student at Columbia University.

Research Staff

Jochen Weber
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 data analysis and visualization.  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 QX, and before that 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 Boccagno 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 developmental 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.

Alumni   (more recent departures listed first)

Former Graduate Students

Jenny Porter
Jenny Porter was a graduate student in the SCAN lab 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 Denny
Bryan received his PhD in the lab and has interests in the temporal dynamics of emotion regulation and how emotion regulation 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.

Jennifer Silvers
Jen got her BA from the University of Virginia in 2005, and received her PhD in the lab.  Her work in the lab 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 is currently a post-doctoral fellow with Nim Tottenham and in July 2016 will start a position as Assistant Professor of Psychology at UCLA.

Elina Kanellopoulou
Elina received her PhD in the lab aftter 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 Zaki
Jamil received his PhD from Columbia University in 2010, and was a postdoctoral fellow working 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 Stanford University.

Hedy Kober
Hedy received her PhD from Columbia University in 2009, was a post-doc for one year, and now is an Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Yale University. 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 Davis
Josh received his PhD in Spring 2008 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.

Former Post-Docs

Ajay Satpute
Ajay received his PhD from UCLA in 2008, was a post-doc in the lab 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 Bombari
Dario received his Ph.D. from the University of Bern in 2010. His research interests range from face perception to empathy and emotions. His current projects focus on the role of visual strategies during empathic judgments and emotion regulation tasks.

Kim Montgomery
Kim was a post-doctoral fellow in the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health and Society Scholars Program.  She has interests in the neural bases of social cognition, the mirror system, perspective taking, interpersonal relationships and health.  She is currently working on a project that examines their inter-relationships.  She is currently a public policy Fellow in Washington DC.

Ethan Kross
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.  He is an on-going collaborator on 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 Olsson
Andreas was a post-doc from 2005-2007 and is now an Associate Professor at the Karolinska Institute in Sweden. He is an-going collaborator 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.

Katie Insel
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.

Alexa Hubbard
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 first year graduate student in the social psychology program at New York University.

Richard Lopez
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.

Chukwudi Onyemekwu
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 Remy
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.

Peter Mende-Siedlecki
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.

Brent Hughes
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 Davidson
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 Schmer-Galunder
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.


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
Hedy Kober, Ph.D. website
Harold Koenigsberg
, M.D. website
John Mann, M.D. website
Jeff Miller, M.D.
Jon Morgenstern, Ph.D.
Walter Mischel
, Ph.D. website
James Murrough, M.D., Ph.D.
Nasir Naqvi, M.D., Ph.D. website
Barbara Stanley, Ph.D.
Tor Wager, Ph.D. website











Social Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory
Department of Psychology
Columbia University
1190 Amsterdam Avenue
New York, NY 10027