Lab Members

If you are interested in working in the lab as a research assistant, please contact our lab manager Spencer Dobbs ( If you are interested in working in the lab as a postdoc, please inquiry directly with me. Prospective graduate students should apply to the Social Psychology area.

Joshua Ackerman, Ph.D. :

Joshua Ackerman, Ph.D.

Josh received his BA in Psychology and Biological Anthropology from Duke University and his MA/PhD from Arizona State University. After a postdoctoral position at Yale University, he spent 5 years as an Assistant Professor of Marketing at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He is currently an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of Michigan and a Faculty Associate at the Research Center for Group Dynamics.

Josh’s research program examines issues at the interface of evolutionary theory and nonconscious processes as a means of understanding the various ways that people coordinate their thoughts, feelings and behaviors with others and the role of fundamental motivations in such outcomes.

Graduate Students

Iris Wang :

Iris Wang

Iris is a third year graduate student in the Social Psychology area. She graduated from the University of Virginia with a B.A. with highest distinction in Psychology and Spanish in 2012. She is primarily interested in the behavioral immune system, including its effects on social behavior and its ties to the biological immune system. Other interests include life history theory, cultural evolution, and motivations for uniqueness vs. conformity. She enjoys watercolor painting, playing with her hamster Hamlet, and traveling.
Nicholas Michalak :

Nicholas Michalak

Nick is a third year graduate student in the Social area. Hailing from the Cornhusker State, he received his bachelor's in neuroscience from the University of St. Thomas in St. Paul, MN. Then he worked as a research assistant and lab manager at the University of Minnesota and the Carlson School of Management. His current obsessions include how and why people's thoughts and behavior are moved by their perceptions of infectious disease, their microbiota, or their early-life stress and unpredictability. Outside lab, you can usually find him running, pouring yet another cup of coffee, or stirring a crisis in confidence.


Oliver Sng :

Oliver Sng

Oliver received his BA in Psychology from the National University of Singapore and his MA/PhD from Arizona State University. His work focuses on two fundamental questions: (1) Why are there psychological differences across human groups? (2) Why do we hold the social stereotypes that we do? Specifically, he explores the intersection between how ecological factors (e.g., population density, pathogen prevalence, resource availability) influence people’s behavior, and how people think ecologies influence the behavior of others. He draws upon a variety of frameworks, including behavioral ecology, life history theory, and affordance management. He appreciates not being asked what he does in his free time. He has none.

Lab Manager

Spencer Dobbs :

Spencer Dobbs

Spencer received his BA in Psychology from Auburn University and his MS from Georgia Southern University. He is primarily interested in social cognition and the varying ecological factors that influence the perception, categorization, and treatment of others.


Sarah Allen :

Sarah Allen

Sarah is a senior at the University of Michigan studying psychology. Her research interests include evolutionary social psychology and holistic counseling. After graduation, she plans to gain field experience before going on to pursue a graduate degree in psychology. In her free time, you will likely find her doing yoga or asking strangers if she can pet their dogs.

Amber Zou :

Amber Zou

Jiehong (Amber) is a junior student majoring in psychology at University of Michigan. She is really interested in how evolution is related to human behaviors and how people make their decisions. After undergrad, she wants to work in the consulting/ market research area. In her leisure time, she enjoys dancing, practicing calligraphy and hanging out with friends.

Medha Achar :

Medha Achar

Medha is a senior undergraduate student studying Psychology and Art & Design. Eventually wanting to pursue a career in brand management or market research, Medha is extremely interested in looking through an evolutionary lens and learning how people's decisions/motivations can provide predications about consumer behavior. Some of her hobbies include listening to music and working out.

Janet Kim :

Janet Kim

I am a junior majoring in Psychology in the College of LSA at the University of Michigan. I am interested in many different fields of psychology but mainly in social and clinical psychology. Specifically, my research interest is how different kinds of environmental factors, especially, relationships such as family, friends, and people in the society (culture), can contribute individual differences and their mental health. I love doing research and learning and exploring new knowledge about human beings. So, I am planning to go to a graduate school to continue my study. My ultimate goal is to understand what contributes dark sides of human beings that may influence other people around them and eventually the whole society, so finally, to help people in the world have happier lives.

Mohamad Hazime :

Mohamad Hazime

Mohamad Hazime is a Sophomore at the University Of Michigan studying Biopsychology, Cognition, and Neuroscience. He aspires to attend medical school. He also runs his own online business while living in Ann Arbor and hopes to expand his entrepreneurial portfolio in the next few years.

Maggie Wasvary :

Maggie Wasvary

Maggie is currently a senior at the University of Michigan studying medicine and music. She is interested in pursuing a career in psychiatry. Outside of lab she is most likely eating, playing with dogs, or being that annoying person who always asks questions during movies.

Alissa Dickerson :

Alissa Dickerson

Alissa is a sophomore transfer student studying psychology at UM. She received an Associate of Arts from Kalamazoo Valley Community College and is a member of the UROP-Changing Gears program as a Research Assistant. She is interested in the study of mental illnesses and social psychology. In what little free time she has, she enjoys watching Netflix.

Amanda Yoo :

Amanda Yoo

Amanda Yoo is currently a junior at the University of Michigan. She is dual-majoring in biology and biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience and hopes to attend medical school after college. Some of her passions include reading, playing instruments, and crying every time George R.R. Martin kills a character on Game of Thrones.

Francesca Giacona :

Francesca Giacona

My name is Francesca Giacona and I am going to be a sophomore at the University of Michigan this fall. I'm currently planning on majoring in public health or BCN with a minor in economics and hope to eventually attend medical school. I am originally from Grosse Pointe, Michigan, and have primarily done only sports med related research until now. I'm excited to work in the ESP lab this spring and summer, and hope to learn a lot more about the field of psychology and its potential career paths.

Elizabeth Lohr :

Elizabeth Lohr

Elizabeth is a junior majoring in biopsychology, cognition, and neuroscience, with a minor in music. After graduation, she hopes to attend PA school. Apart from working in the lab, she can be found playing her violin in the Michigan Pops Orchestra, or spreading awareness about food allergies through her VP position in Anaphylaxis Awareness.

Elias Chandarlis :

Elias Chandarlis

Elias is a junior majoring in psychology. He is interested in psychopathology and personality studies. He hopes to continue his studies after undergrad by attending graduate school. In his off time, you'll find him painting models or reading, if you can find him at all.

Emily Jones :

Emily Jones

Emily is a sophomore at the University of Michigan studying psychology.  Her research interests include social and behavioral psychology.  After graduation, she hopes to continue her studies at graduate school.  Outside of school, her interests include playing tennis, volleyball, and exploring the great outdoors.

Megan Mulhinch :

Megan Mulhinch

Megan is a sophomore studying Neuroscience. She is especially interested in how animal and human behaviors are related, as well as the effects of evolution on the brain and behavior of people over time. After undergrad, she hopes to attend graduate school and continue learning about the world. In her free time, she loves to run, bike, and explore the beautiful outdoors.

Breanna Travis :

Breanna Travis

Breanna is a junior studying Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Michigan. She is interested in attending medical school, and obtaining a career working with patients with a mental illness. She is intrigued by the human mind and social behavior, and aspires to learn more about the neurological and psychological processes behind one’s behavior. Apart from her education, she enjoys volunteering with her community service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega, at various organizations like Crafty Cat Rescue. Breanna is an animal, coffee, and music enthusiast. She likes to spend time outdoors, attend concerts, and try out all of the local coffee shops.


Yuching Lin :

Yuching Lin

Yuching was ESP lab manager from 2015-2017 before joining the University of Virginia psychology department as a graduate student. Her research interests include nonconscious processes, social cognition, and judgment and decision making.
Elizabeth Kovan :

Elizabeth Kovan

Elizabeth was the lab manager for the Evolutionary Social Psychology Lab.  She graduated from the University of Michigan with a B.A. in Psychology in May 2014.  Elizabeth is interested in the socioemotional development of children, and hopes to ultimately pursue a career in the field of child and adolescent psychology.