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Our Team

Lab Director

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Emily Balcetis, PhD

Over the last 20 years, Emily has become one of the most sought-after voices on motivation science, researching the factors that contribute to differences in judgments and behaviors among individuals. She delivers lectures, offers training and keynoting hundreds of programs and events at secondary schools, colleges, universities, community organizations, and corporations on the social, cognitive, and motivational mechanisms that lead impact obstacles and successes as people pursue their goals. She is also a frequent commentator on media, blogs, and podcasts, delivering a voice filled with knowledge and respect for the varied challenges people face.


Lab Manager

Ashley Winegarden

Ashley recently graduated from NYU in 2022 with a major in psychology! As an NYU alumni, she is thrilled to be working as a lab manager at the SPAM lab. She has been working in psychological research for the past three years studying language's effect on girls' and racial minorities' science motivation, and plans to eventually get a Ph.D. in psychology. Ashley is currently involved in projects investigating how to reduce bias play in medical school interviews, assessing the nutritional value of adolescent lunches, and using eye tracking to understand the potential for bias in video evidence used in legal proceedings.

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Communications Manager

Genna Goins

Genna is an undergraduate student double majoring in trumpet performance and psychology at NYU. She joined the SPAM Lab in Spring 2022 and has since discovered interests in learning about diversity in leadership and the influences it has on young people as well as understanding the prevalence of gender disparities in media. Currently, Genna is part of the team responsible for collecting data analyzing how jurors may view video evidence in a court setting. Genna was recently appointed the communications manager for the lab, maintaining its website and newsletters. During her free time, Genna can be found attending Broadway shows and trying different pizzas throughout New York City.


Henry Biedron

Masters Student

Graduate Students

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Jennie Qu-Lee PhD Candidate

Jennie's work expands from psychological and neuro-cognitive mechanisms of motivational biases in visual and social perception to intergroup decision-making. More specifically, she is interested in how we characterize the dynamic processes by which we perceive, understand, make decisions about people like us and those who are not, and navigate the social world. Jennie utilizes a multi-level approach to advance understanding of intergroup dynamics, and to build long-lasting interventions to combat group-based discrimination. You can learn more about Jennie's work here.

Ma Xiao

PhD Candidate

MaXiao (Ma-sh-iao) is a second-year doctoral student in the Social Psychology program at NYU. He received his BA (2019) in Psychology and Statistics from Carleton College, MN. After graduation, he conducted clinical research as a post-graduate associate at Yale Psychiatry, OCD Research Clinic. His research interests focus on how factors affecting motivation and self-control processes across construal levels. He also wants to investigate motivational research in interpersonal settings to help facilitate growth and bridge performance gaps in minority students. For example, what factors change perception of “leaders” and “the successful” in minority students?


Usman Liaquat

PhD Candidate

Usman is a sixth-year doctoral candidate in the Social Psychology program at NYU generally interested in investigation questions pertaining to prejudice, stereotyping, and collective action. Within the SPAM Lab, Usman investigates how differences in framing of gender disparity in leadership (e.g., women are underrepresented vs. men are overrepresented) affects anger at the inequality and collective action to close the gender gap. Usman’s dissertation work examines how prescriptive and descriptive beliefs about social groups’ (e.g., immigrants, racial minorities) support for the status quo might explain the ideological divide in prejudice towards those groups. His work also draws upon System Justification Theory and the body of work on political conservatism as motivated social cognition to investigate contextual factors that might influence prescriptive and descriptive beliefs about others’ support for the system.

Henry Biedron is a second-year master's student in the social psychology program at NYU. He received his BA as an undergraduate at Kenyon College studying psychology, focusing on how perceptions of social interactions differ in mediated environments. He is currently working as a Project Lead and Research Assistant in the SPAM Lab studying the influence of inequality in leadership on the perceptions of leadership in adolescents.

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Rheanna Ganapathy

Masters Student

Rheanna is a second year psychology Master's student at NYU. She is currently leading a SPAM Lab project focused on social media marketing, racial representation, and adolescent food choices. Outside of this project, Rheanna is also interested in studying stereotyping and prejudice, prosocial behavior, and impacts of various social identities. In her free time, Rheanna enjoys listening to live music, reading novels about multigenerational families, and eating dumplings.

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Lu Gao

Masters Student

Lu is a master’s student in the General Psychology program at NYU. She received her BS in Psychology from Beijing Normal University, China. Broadly, she is interested in factors that facilitate healthy engagement in online behaviors. She is currently working with her teammates on the social security project. In her free time, she enjoys watching bilibili and reading fanfiction.

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Shan Gao

Masters Student

Shan Gao is a second-year master's student in NYU social psychology. She received her B.A. in Psychology and Chinese Literature from The Ohio State University in 2021. Broadly, Shan is interested in studying factors that influence the development of gender and race stereotypes and the effect of stereotypes on the decision-making process. Shan works on her master's thesis, stereotypicality of crimes and punishment decisions, and leads a visual confirmation bias project in the SPAM lab. When she's outside the lab, Shan enjoys exploring local cafes in NYC and reading.


Quincy Lherrison

Masters Student

Currently pursuing a Master's degree in Psychology (with a specific focus in Social Psychology), Quincy joined the SPAM lab during the summer of 2021 as a volunteer research assistant and has helped with various tasks that range from scientific literature review to quantitative/qualitative coding. Since late Fall of 2021, Quincy has been leading an archival analysis project investigating the ways in which news media frames the discussion of gender disparities in leadership -- with specific regard to majority/minority racial and ethnic groups. In his free time, you'll most likely find him reading some form of literary work.

Bradley Tao

Masters Student


Bradley is a second-year master's student at NYU with a focus on social psychology. His current research interests engage how different cognitive mindsets and patterns of attention can influence motivation and exercise behavior. Bradley received a BA in Psychology and German from the University of Michigan in 2020. Outside of NYU, you may find him attempting the very scholarly work of 1) learning how to motivate himself to exercise regularly again; and 2) finding a use for his German degree.

Rebekah Zhang

Masters Student

Rebekah is currently pursuing psychology as a Master's student at NYU. Rebekah’s research interests lie at the intersection of social cognition and cross-cultural research. Currently, Rebekah is working on her MA thesis studying gender disparity in leadership roles. In 2021, Rebekah received a BA from the University of California, Irvine, where she double majored in psychology and economics. Outside of the lab, Rebekah is passionate about writing, reading, and art.

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Research Assistants

Abby Crouch

Abi Rivera

Ainsley Hoh

Aminata Juwara

Annie Mach

Anya Pabby

Brooke Nguyen

Bryce Lexow

Cat Howard

Diana Wu

Diya Basu

Eunha Choi

Genna Goins

Gracielle Resurreccion

Haili Song

June Van De Graff

Michelle Stern

Mike Guerrero

Miumiu Miao

Mya Edmund

Olive Liu

Rina Yoko Jean Francolini

Siyang Shen

Sophia Rougraff

Susanah Vosmik

Thy Nguyen

Xianshen Yu

Lab Alumni

Abby Bisi, Engagement Manager at Prophet

David Bosch, Clinical Assistant Professor of Psychology, MA Program Coordinator at New York University

Stephanie Cardenas, Assistant Professor at Williams College

Shana Cole, Assistant Professor at Rutgers University

Jennifer Elek, Principal Court Research Associate at the National Center for State Courts

Yael Granot, Assistant Professor at Smith College

Corey Guenther, Associate Professor at Creighton University

Erin Hennes, Assistant Professor at University of Missouri

Clint Irvin, Data Scientist at Synovus

Kristyn Jones, UX Researcher at WhatsApp

David Kalkstein, Postdoctoral Fellow at Stanford

Madelaine Krehm, UX Researcher at Google

Amy Krosch, Assistant Professor at Cornell University

Jeff Kukucka, Associate Professor at Townson University 

Saaid Mendoza, Associate Professor at Providence College

Soyon Rim, Associate Professor at William Paterson College

Jojanneke van der Toorn, Professor at Leiden University

Website Design

Genna Goins

Armon Dadvand

Rebekah Zhang, SPAM Lab Logo Design

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