I was born and raised in Los Angeles, California, and attended the University of Southern California as a QuestBridge Scholar. I graduated in 2022 with my B.A. in Cognitive Science and M.S. in Biostatistics.
At USC, I worked as a research assistant in Dr. David Schwartz’s Social Development Laboratory and Dr. Megan Herting’s Neuroimaging Laboratory. With Dr. Schwartz, I studied social and behavioral markers (such as peer groups and social media use) of adolescent psychopathology, aggression, and well-being. With Dr. Herting, I researched how environmental stressors (such as air pollution and socioeconomic disadvantage) influence adolescent brain development, and how hormones influence emotion processing.
My research interests stem from an obsession with two central problems in philosophy: the problem of free will, and the problem of good and evil.
We intuitively feel a sense of agency in our decision-making. We act as if others have free will, and we hold others morally responsible for their actions.
Yet, if certain individuals are prone to risk-taking or aggression due to neurodevelopmental, socioenvironmental, or genetic influences outside of their control, do they share the same moral culpability for their actions as the rest of us?
This ethical dilemma has inspired me to study prosocial and antisocial behavior through an interdisciplinary lens combining social cognitive development, affective neuroscience, and moral psychology.
I am particularly interested in adolescence as a phase of the lifespan during which our bodies and minds undergo a series of rapid changes, our sense of individuality and moral agency grows, and we begin to assume full legal culpability for our actions.
My research seeks to address three sequentially related questions:
- How do external social and environmental stressors influence internal neurophysiological changes during puberty?
- How do brain and hormonal changes during puberty relate to individual differences in emotion processing, reward sensitivity, and cognitive control?
- How do individual differences in these cognitive and affective processes promote prosocial behavior or increase risk for antisocial behavior in adolescents?
Broadly, through answering these questions I hope to better understand how developmental neuroscience may inform our ethical and legal conceptions of rationality, agency, motivation, and moral culpability.