Philippe Bourgois, Ph.D.

Professor, Departments of Psychiatry, Anthropology, and Sociology
Director, Center for Social Medicine, Semel Institute

I have conducted participant observation ethnographic fieldwork focused on the intimate experience of social inequality and the struggle for human dignity in violent settings plagued by political/ethnic/economic conflicts, hunger, addiction and human rights violations spanning from the Central America civil wars of the 1980s, to contemporary US inner-city drug corners, homeless encampments, jails and hospital emergency rooms. I strive to document the moral economies and searches for meaning/human dignity and ethical logic among victims/perpetrators that can help us develop upstream public interventions to address urgent social problems by promoting human solidarity and reducing the brutal effects of social inequality.


Julienne E. Bower, Ph.D.

Professor, Departments of Psychology and Psychiatry/Biobehavioral Sciences

I am a health psychologist who studies mind-body interactions and how they can be leveraged to promote health and well-being.  I am particularly interested in positive psychological processes, including positive affect, self-kindness, and meaning/purpose in life, and their influence on mental and physical health.  I focus on the immune system as a key biological pathway linking mind and body given its relevance for depression, cancer, and a host of other disorders.  I also develop and conduct mind-body and positive psychology interventions, including studies of mindfulness meditation, acts of kindness, gratitude, and yoga.


Michelle G. Craske, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor, Psychology, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences
Director, UCLA Anxiety and Depression Research Center
Director, Innovative Treatment Network, UCLA Depression Grand Challenge

I research risk factors for fear, anxiety and depression that then guide the development of effective strategies for prevention and intervention. Training in mindful loving kindness, gratitude, generosity and appreciative joy is part of prevention for depression and anxiety in high school students and young adults in college samples, and is part of our new treatment program for treating depression and anhedonia. My laboratory is committed to large scale implementation for those with unmet need by harnessing the latest advances in technologies for screening, tracking and treating anxiety and depression.


Naomi Eisenberger, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Psychology

I am a social neuroscientist interested in why social relationships are so critical for mental and physical health. My research has explored the neural underpinnings of social rejection and has shown that this negative experience relies on some of the same neural regions that are involved in processing physical pain. I have also explored the neural substrates associated with social connection and have shown that experiences such as receiving and giving support rely on reward-related neural regions. My work also examines the bidirectional relationships between social relationships and health. For instance, we are currently examining whether prosocial behaviors, such as support-giving, can reduce threat-related physiological responding.


David Gere, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of World Arts and Cultures/Dance
Founding Director, UCLA Art & Global Health Center

I teach courses in arts activism. My writing and global curatorial projects address arts-based public health interventions and projects. Through the UCLA Art & Global Health Center, my students and I engage local and global communities, from the UCLA Sex Squad’s performances in LAUSD high school to the Through Positive Eyes initiative at the International AIDS Conference in Durban, South Africa. Art & Global Health Center programs operate across five continents and engage and encourage local artist communities to take on public health issues in accessible and entertaining ways.


Alan Fiske

Alan Fiske, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor, Department of Anthropology

I am a psychological anthropologist studying how humans cooperate. My focus is on how universal relational models are culturally implemented so as to enable people to understand each other and evaluate their interactions. I have researched moral psychology, motivations for violence, and the ways that people construct relationships. Lately, I have been studying an emotion, kama muta, that emerges when any kind of love suddenly intensifies. The capacity for kama muta is an innate adaptation, while a great many cultural practices and arts have culturally evolved to evoke it. Kama muta bonds people, generating kindness, devotion, and commitment.


Jacob Foster, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology

I am a computational sociologist of science and culture. I study the social production of collective intelligence and the evolutionary dynamics of ideas. The rich nexus of cognition, culture, and computation is an emerging focus in my group; for example, we use machine learning to mine cultural meaning from text and multi-agent (deep) reinforcement learning to study the emergence of cooperation. I am broadly interested in the dialogue between the social sciences and theoretical machine learning, as well as the social and ethical implications of artificial intelligence. I am founding co-Director of the Diverse Intelligences Summer Institute, a program that aims to build community, collaboration, and creative thinking among early career scholars interested in the study of mind, cognition, and intelligence of diverse forms and formats—from ants and apes to humans and AI.


Andrew Fuligni, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences, Department of Psychology

I am a developmental psychologist who studies the interaction between sociocultural experiences and biobehavioral development during adolescence. Using a variety of methods, I have examined how adolescents make contributions to their social worlds and derive a sense of belonging and purpose from their experiences. My colleagues and I are currently examining the factors that enhance youths’ giving to others and how that giving is linked to brain development and health among ethnically-diverse youth.


Chad Hazlett, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Departments of Statistics and Political Science

I work on a variety of topics related to altruism, violence, and peace. At the macro level, I study how the largest mass atrocities in history have ended, and provide the statistical models used by the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in its annual mass atrocity forecasts. In work on Darfur, Syria, and Colombia, I study what influences an individual’s willingness to make peace with former enemies or perpetrators, especially the role of experienced violence. I also (with Dan Posner) use tools from economics and psychology to improve how we measure biases in the altruism and threat-perception people experience towards members of other groups.


Marco Iacoboni, M.D. Ph.D.

Professor, Departments of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Director, Neuromodulation Lab, Ahmanson-Lovelace Brain Mapping Center, UCLA
Member, Brain Research Institute, UCLA

I am a systems neuroscientist interested in the neural systems and functional mechanisms of social cognition, with emphasis on imitation, empathy, and prosocial decision making, including altruism and morality. I use brain imaging to describe neural systems relevant to these behaviors and non invasive brain stimulation to modulate neural activity, hence establishing whether down- or up-regulation of these neural systems can lead to behavioral changes.


Michael Irwin

Michael Irwin, M.D.

Cousins Distinguished Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Distinguished Professor of Psychology, UCLA College of Letters and Sciences
Director, Cousins Center for Psychoneuroimmunology, Director, Mindful Awareness Research Center, Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior

My research focuses on understanding the reciprocal interactions between the immune and central nervous systems and the role of sleep disturbance on the molecular and cellular inflammatory signaling pathways that influence depression and physical health risk among cancer survivors and older adults.


Kerri Johnson, Ph.D.

Professor, Departments of Communication and Psychology

My research is at the forefront of the burgeoning field of Social Vision which aims to understand how visual information impacts the impressions we form about other people. Broadly, we test how perception of cues in the face and body impacts interpersonal judgments such as likability and group membership, behaviors such as desire for contact and engagement, and biases that impact early impressions. My published works focus on how these early impressions — from merely a glimpse — inform judgments in consequential domains, including politics, the workplace, academics, and even sports.


Terence Keel, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Departments of Institute for Society and Genetics and African American Studies
Affiliate, Center for the Study of Racism, Social Justice and Health

I am a historian, scholar of religion, and critical race theorist interested in how culture and society shape the development of science and medicine. My work is centered on the understanding that science reflects the culture and values of its practitioners and is ultimately a product of human conventions, habits of mind, and inherited traditions. From this perspective, the aim of my work has been to reveal the commitments, ideas, and beliefs that animate research within the fields of genetics, public health, and biomedicine.


Vinay Lal, Ph.D.

Professor, Departments of History and Asian American Studies

I’m a cultural historian with wide-ranging interests in global politics, culture, and history, though the greater portion of my work has focused on South Asia and colonialism.  I have also had a long-standing interest in cultures of nonviolence and nonviolent movements around the world, and have written extensively on ethics in politics, on the politics of sexuality, masculinity, and femininity, and on the moral and political thought of Gandhi.


Jorja Leap, Ph.D.

Adjunct Professor
Executive Director, Social Justice Research Partnership
UCLA Luskin School of Public Affairs
UCLA Watts Leadership Institute
Department of Social Welfare

I am a cultural anthropologist whose research follows the life histories of men and women who have been gang-involved and have been incarcerated. Using anthropology and social work theory and methods, I work to better understand how these individuals create new lives in positive ways. My research and community work are concerned with portraying how people change and showing how they are healing the communities they once tried to destroy – learning kindness, leadership and a sense of kinship. This research is also a springboard to help support these men and women and their communities in continuing to change and grow.

Lené Levy-Storms, Ph.D., M.P.H.

Associate Professor & Hartford Faculty Scholar
Departments of Social Welfare and Medicine/Geriatrics
Associate Director UCLA Borun Center for Gerontological Research
Faculty Associate, UCLA Center for Health Policy Research

I am an interdisciplinary social scientist whose research focuses on interpersonal communication as a mechanism for social support in both community and institutional settings. My particular interests include the many ways interpersonal communication behaviors can convey positive emotions as well as how to most effectively teach individuals how to use communication techniques to emotionally connect. My target populations have been caregivers and older adults living with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and health care providers and older adults living with multiple chronic conditions. Collaboratively, I have created a DVD series of peer-based, unscripted training modules on communication and an accompanying experiential curriculum titled, “Get Connected”.


Aliza Luft, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology

I am a political and historical sociologist who studies individual decision-making about genocide. I combine diverse social scientific theories and methods from sociology, political science, history, and the various cognitive sciences to examine how people make choices about violence, including whether or not to participate in violence, when and why, and how, as a war is ongoing. A particular focus of my current work concerns dehumanization, its causes and consequences. Finally, I examine the consequences of violence at the individual and broader social-structural levels of analysis and how different communities strive to overcome violent pasts.


Cassie Mogilner Holmes

Cassie Mogilner Holmes, Ph.D.

Associate Professor of Marketing and Behavioral Decision Making
Donnalisa ’86 and Bill Barnum Endowed Term Chair in Management
UCLA Anderson School of Management

I study happiness, highlighting the role of time. I seek to develop empirically-based knowledge to inform how individuals should think about and spend their time to make their lives better. My research examines such questions as how focusing on time (rather than money) increases happiness, how the meaning of happiness changes over the course of one’s lifetime, how gifting time through experiences cultivates happiness in relationships, and how much happiness people enjoy from extraordinary and ordinary experiences. Across these inquiries, my findings highlight the utter happiness that stems from connecting with people in the present moment.


Daniel Posner

Daniel Posner, Ph.D.

James S. Coleman Professor of International Development
UCLA Department of Political Science

I am a political scientist who studies ethnicity, distributive politics, and political and economic change in Africa. A good deal of my work employs tools from behavioral economics and social psychology to measure and understand differential altruism, trust and norms of reciprocity across group lines.

Faysal Saab, M.D.

Associate Director, Global Health Pathway
Assistant Clinical Professor, Internal Medicine and Pediatrics
Hospitalist Division, UCLA Medical Center

I am passionate about delivering high quality, evidence-based, and family-centered care to adult and pediatric inpatients. My other clinical interests lie in bedside ultrasound, medical education, and global health, frequently attending and teaching at UCLA partner sites in Malawi.

Andrew Shaner, M.D.

Professor of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA
Staff Psychiatrist, VA Greater Los Angeles Healthcare System
Associate Director, Center of Excellence – Interprofessional-Academic – Homeless Patient-Aligned Care Team, VA West Los Angeles Healthcare Center


I am a psychiatrist interested in how all clinicians can remain humanistic—respectful, empathic, and compassionate—with patients suffering from complex behavioral and physical problems. At the VA, I serve on an interprofessional teaching team that provides both primary health care and mental health care to homeless veterans. With Dr. Fessler, we designed a compact set of techniques, summarized on a pocket card, and termed “The Humanism Pocket Tool.” It comprises techniques for interacting both with patients and team members, because staying compassionate requires a culture of humanism within the clinic.

Sue Smalley, Ph.D.

Chair of the Bedari Kindness Institute Executive Committee
Professor Emeritus, UCLA Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences

I am a behavioral geneticist, writer, activist and investor. My research centered on the genetics of psychiatric disorders and the impact of mindfulness meditation on health and wellbeing.  I founded the Mindful Awareness Research Center at UCLA to bring mindfulness practices to the public and to carryout scientific research on it.  That work led to my co-authoring Fully Present: The Science, Art, and Practice of Mindfulness, and ultimately the creative vision for the Bedari Kindness Institute.  Kindness addresses how we act in the world while mindfulness addresses thoughts and feelings that arise within.  I spend my time now investing in companies that have the potential to benefit the human condition and in human rights work focused on gender equality.


Ramesh Srinivasan

Ramesh Srinivasan, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Information Studies

I study the relationship between technology, politics and society. Via the UC-wide Digital Cultures Lab, I explore the meaning of technology worldwide as it spreads to the far reaches of our world. In my recent work, I examine the relationships between new technologies and our political, economic, and social lives. This includes such themes as tech’s relationship to democracy, social movements, and elections; automation, the gig economy, and worker futures; algorithmic bias and AI; and the relationship between tech and the nations and peoples of the global South.


Jason Throop

C. Jason Throop, Ph.D.

Professor and Chair, Department of Anthropology

I am a psychological and medical anthropologist who has done long-term ethnographic research on suffering, emotions, moods, ethics, and empathy on the island of Yap in Micronesia. Topically, my projects have focused on pain, illness (including type II Diabetes), political transformation, and more recently responses to climate change in Micronesian communities. Much of this work has focused on theoretically and empirically engaging the concept of empathy and disentangling it from related concepts like sympathy, compassion, care, and kindness. I have also written about the role of empathy in anthropological research.


Janet Tomiyama, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Department of Psychology

I am a health psychologist that studies how the way we think and feel changes our health. I am interested in finding antidotes to the current culture of fat shaming and body dissatisfaction, including self-kindness interventions and anti-weight-stigma campaigns. My other research interests include comfort eating, alternatives to omnivorism, and health disparities.


Karen Umemoto

Karen Umemoto, Ph.D.

Helen and Morgan Chu Chair and Director, Asian American Studies Center
Professor, Departments of Urban Planning and Asian American Studies

I am an urban planner and Asian American urban historian who is concerned about how we can all live together as an inclusive, respectful, and egalitarian multicultural society. Having been born and raised in Los Angeles, I have witnessed the many changes over the decades as our city has become more diverse as well as unequal. I have grappled with issues of unequal treatment in the juvenile justice system, racialized gang violence, and the gentrification of communities of color. In all of these areas, empathy, I examine how empathy and kindness are critical aspects to solving such intractable problems.

Safiya Umoja Noble, Ph.D.

Associate Professor, Departments of Information Studies and African American Studies
Co-Director, UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry (C2I2)

I am an Associate Professor at the University of California, Los Angeles in the Departments of Information Studies and African American Studies, and am Co-Director of the UCLA Center for Critical Internet Inquiry. I am the author of a best-selling book on algorithmic discrimination by internet platforms, Algorithms of Oppression: How Search Engines Reinforce Racism and was the recipient of a Hellman Fellowship and the UCLA Early Career Award.


Abel Valenzula Jr., Ph.D.

Professor of Chicano Studies, Urban Planning and Labor Studies
Director, Institute for Research on Labor and Employment
Special Advisor to the Chancellor on Immigration Policy

I am a multidisciplinary scholar who draws on the social sciences to explore issues of inequality in the work place, in neighborhoods and cities, and on issues related to immigration including newcomers and their settlement, their engagement in work, and leadership development among youth to empower for social change.   For the past few years, I’ve worked on issues related to undocumented immigrants and their engagement at UCLA as they confront hostilities and conflict as part of a negative national narrative and scapegoating of newcomers.  I’ve been at UCLA for 25 years and was born and raised in Los Angeles.


Till von Wachter, Ph.D.

Professor, Department of Economics
Faculty Director, California Policy Lab
Director, Federal Statistical Research Data Center
Associate Dean for Research, Division of Social Sciences

My research examines how labor market conditions and institutions affect the well-being of workers and their families. This includes the analysis of unemployment and job loss on workers’ long-term earnings and health outcomes, as well as the role of unemployment insurance and disability insurance in buffering such shocks. Current research projects focus on job and earnings mobility of young workers over their careers, the effects of minimum wages, as well as several projects on homelessness using administrative data from Los Angeles.


Carole Warde

Carole Warde, M.D.

Former Health Sciences Clinical Professor of Medicine
David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA

I am a primary care general internist, medical educator, and relationship-centered health care consultant. Early on, I learned that work-family balance is fundamental to a successful medical career and began my ongoing study of physician career satisfaction, role conflict, burnout, well-being and part-time career options.  Most recently I led a collaborative effort to integrate trainees from 6 health care professions into an existing complex care clinic for homeless Veterans.  Our initiatives in humanism, teamwork and resilience created a work environment that led to favorable outcomes in patient care and trainee team performance, burnout, mindfulness, satisfaction and career selection.