Meet the GGSC’s New Fellows

August 21, 2017

The Greater Good Science Center is proud to present its 2017-18 class of distinguished Research Fellows, which includes excellent UC Berkeley students from the fields of social-personality psychology, school psychology, clinical science, and beyond. They are an outstanding group of young researchers who are committed to the greater good.

The GGSC’s annual fellowship program supports the work of UC Berkeley students whose research advances the science of compassion, empathy, and other topics we explore. The program attracts scholars from across a broad spectrum of academic disciplines, with a particular focus on the social-behavioral sciences.

This year, our fellows tackle subjects ranging from improving adolescent relationships and well-being to emotion regulation in romantic couples. Please read on for more details about our newest fellows, and visit our fellowships page for more details about the program and summaries of past graduate and undergraduate fellows’ work.

2017-2018 Postdoctoral Fellow

Megan Cherewick
Adversity in Adolescence

Dr. Megan Cherewick is a postdoctoral scholar at the Center on the Developing Adolescent at UC Berkeley. Megan completed her dissertation, “Trauma, Coping, and Resilience Among Conflict-Affected Youth in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo,” and received her Ph.D. in International Health from Johns Hopkins University. Megan’s primary research interests focus on consequences of concentrated adversity and stress, adolescent cognitive and behavioral coping strategies, and effects on mental health and well-being. Megan’s current research seeks to integrate findings from developmental neuroscience to inform adolescent-focused psychosocial support and behavior change intervention strategies. Working with Drs. Ron Dahl and Ahna Suleiman, Megan’s GGSC fellowship seeks to identify key protective and promotive factors in adolescent lives that support positive mental health trajectories. Megan will work with conflict-affected refugees in Northern Uganda to conduct mixed-method research to inform the design of a mental health intervention for conflict-affected adolescents.

2017-2018 Hornaday Graduate Fellows

Malik Boykin
Social-Personality Psychology

Malik Boykin is a fifth-year Social-Personality doctoral candidate at UC Berkeley. He received his M.A. in Social-Organizational Psychology from Teachers College Columbia University and his B.S. in Psychology from the University of Maryland University College (UMUC). Malik’s work focuses on perceptions of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) as symbolic proxies for perceptions of African Americans at the group level. As a GGSC graduate fellow, Malik will focus on distributive justice in resource allocation for HBCUs. Specifically, he plans to study whether highlighting HBCUs’ positive contributions to American culture and the American economy could increase American altruism toward these historically underfunded academic institutions.

Alan Cowen
Psychology

Alan Cowen is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Psychology at UC Berkeley. His research integrates emotion science and neuroscience with crowdsourcing and new statistical tools to study how emotional states are structured within a multidimensional space. As a GGSC Graduate Research Fellow, Alan will investigate how subjective well-being can be modeled in terms of (a) distinct facets of positive emotional experience such as awe, compassion, gratitude, and rapture, and (b) diverse moral, cultural, and religious values. A key application of this project will be a tool that generates personalized roadmaps to well-being that leverage the shared wisdom and experiences of tens of thousands of people.

Rupa Robbins
School Psychology

Rupa Robbins is a doctoral candidate in the School Psychology program at UC Berkeley. She received her B.A. in psychology from Stanford University and her M.A. in education from UC Berkeley. Before beginning graduate school, Rupa worked as an elementary school teacher in Washington, D.C. Rupa’s primary research interests are in social-emotional learning and intergroup contact interventions in adolescence. As a Hornaday Graduate Fellow, Rupa will implement a cross-group friendship intervention in an early adolescent population. She will study the effects of the intervention on empathy, perspective taking, and outgroup attitudes.

Benjamin Swerdlow
Clinical Science

Benjamin Swerdlow is a third-year graduate student in the Clinical Science program at UC Berkeley. He received his B.A. in Psychology and English at Wesleyan University. His research explores dyadic emotional processes in relation to psychopathology and well-being. Specifically, his work examines interpersonal emotion regulation, the processes whereby individuals influence one another’s emotions. As a GGSC Research Fellow, Benjamin plans to use ambulatory acoustic recording technology to capture real-world instances of interpersonal emotion regulation occurring within romantic couples. He aims to examine how behavioral dimensions of interpersonal emotion regulation relate to individual psychological well-being and relationship satisfaction.

Jenna Wells
Clinical Science

Jenna Wells is a second-year doctoral student in the Clinical Science program at UC Berkeley. She received her B.S. at Tufts University. Her research examines the biopsychosocial benefits of experiencing positive emotions during dyadic social interactions. As a GGSC Graduate Research Fellow, she will explore the role of positive emotions in the development of psychopathology in caregivers of patients with dementia. Ultimately, she hopes to leverage this knowledge to design treatments to alleviate caregivers’ emotional burden.

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