UCLA Grad Slam 2018: Jenna is a semi-finalist!

Grad Slam is a campus-wide competition that showcases the research of graduate students across several disciplines. In a short, clear, and engaging way students present on their research to those inside and outside the academic community.

Here’s what Jenna had to say about her experience thus far: “As we know from psychology research, public speaking can pretty reliably start up our stress response. I decided to compete in Grad Slam to build my confidence and skills in public speaking. I also really wanted to challenge myself to communicate my research to people outside of my field of study. This is really crucial skill-building for any psychologist who wants their research to have a broader impact! The experience has been equal parts challenging and rewarding, and one of the most rewarding parts has been connecting with other graduate students who study all sorts of amazing things all over UCLA’s campus.”

We’re so proud of Jenna and hope she will move forward in the competition as a finalist!

DiSH Grad Student Jenna receives APA Dissertation Award!

Congratulations to one of our graduate students, Jenna Cummings, for receiving a 2017 American Psychological Association Dissertation Research Award! This award provides funding for doctoral students who have excellent dissertations that will contribute to psychological research. We’re so proud of Jenna and are excited to see her results!

Sam’s PROPS Celebration!

One of our wonderful DiSH Research Assistants, Sam Xiong, just completed UCLA’s Psychology Research Opportunities Program (PROPS)! PROPS helps prepare students to begin careers in research and involves weekly seminars covering graduate school, careers in academia, and research opportunities in various fields of psychology. As a part of the PROPS program, Sam got the chance to work with DiSH Graduate Student Anthony Rodriguez (who recently became DR. Anthony Rodriguez!), as well as to work with DiSH Graduate Student Laura Finch and Lab Manager Erin Standen.

Find out what Sam has to say about his PROPS experience:

“PROPS was such a phenomenal program! It taught me how to ask the right questions, meet the right people, become resourceful, and push myself out of my comfort zone. Coming from a first generation family and not having any real exposure to anyone who could provide me guidance about the process of getting into graduate school, I was not really sure how I was going to get into graduate school or if I would even like it. PROPS provided me with graduate/faculty panels, professional workshops, and class assignments to further develop my understanding of how to get into graduate school, if graduate school was for me, and the objective pros/cons of graduate school. Additionally, I was really amazed by how much the people who were in charge of the program really cared about my own personal growth and development throughout the program. PROPS has been one of my biggest professional/personal influences here at UCLA in regards to helping me better understand the limitless possibilities out there for me and that there are a lot of people out there willing to help, if you just ask.”

Here’s a photo of Dr. T. and Sam at his PROPS Ceremony:



Congratulations to DiSH Lab Manager Erin Standen for being awarded a NSF Graduate Fellowship!

Erin Standen, who has been the exceptional manager of the DiSH Lab for the past 2 years, has been awarded a National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship! This fellowship is extremely competitive and prestigious, awarded to outstanding graduate students across the country who are pursuing research-based degrees in various disciplines.

Erin officially accepted an offer to attend The University of Minnesota for a doctoral program in Social Psychology, where she will be joining The Mann Lab headed by Dr. Traci Mann (who was also Dr. T’s graduate advisor!). We are so proud of Erin and all of her accomplishments thus far, and this fellowship adds to her already steep career trajectory.

Thank you for being such an amazing lab manager Erin, and though we’ll miss you we can’t wait to hear about all your future success!!

Congratulations, Jenna!

One of our incredible DiSH graduate students, Jenna Cummings, just passed her dissertation preliminary orals! We’re excited to announce that she is now officially a Doctoral Candidate in the department of Psychology, and will embark on her dissertation.

We are so proud of you, Jenna! We know that you’re destined for greatness, and we can’t wait to see how you move forward with your research!



Congratulations, Diane!

We’re so proud of Diane Dallal, one of our incredible DiSH Research Assistants, who just accepted an offer of admission to Drexel University’s Clinical Psychology program!

Find out what Diane had to say here:

“I feel so lucky to be pursuing graduate study in overeating and obesity at Drexel University’s clinical psychology program this fall. To me, the most exciting thing about the program is that I get to join an extremely passionate and productive research team, under Dr. Evan Forman’s mentorship, whose collective goal centers around developing and disseminating innovative treatments for unhealthy eating behaviors. Drexel is an amazing fit for me, and  I could not be more thrilled to undergo graduate training at such a powerhouse for eating-related research. I’m so thankful for all I learned in the DiSH Lab and at UCLA that led me here!”

We’re so happy for you, Diane, and we can’t wait to see how you’ll shine in graduate school!

Congratulations, Kristin!

One of our stellar DiSH Lab Research Assistants, Kristin Horrillo, just accepted an offer of admission to the Mills College School of Education!

Check out what Kristin has to say here:

“I’ll be taking part in a two-year Masters’ in Education with an emphasis in Child Life in Hospitals program at Mills that focuses on equipping students with specialized training to respond to the developmental, social, and emotional needs of hospitalized children and their families. I’ve always wanted to work with children and have been really interested in developmental psychology since High School, but after suffering the loss of a close family member I knew I wanted to help bring some normalcy to children in the hospital setting.  After working in the DiSH lab and learning how research is conducted and learning how to apply research through the Applied Developmental Psychology Minor program I knew I wanted to pursue a career that valued the power of research. As a Certified Child Life Specialist, I will be able to use research to mitigate the impact of medical trauma while preserving basic developmental pathways and family support systems in hospitals and medical communities. I’m so excited to take what I’ve learned at UCLA into this next step in my education!”

We’ll miss you around the lab, Kristin, but we’re so proud of you for following your passion!


DiSH Lab at SPSP 2017!

This past weekend, the DiSH lab attended the 18th Annual Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP) Convention in San Antonio, TX. We also attended the Social, Personality and Health (SPH) Preconference, and we were one of the best-represented labs in attendance – our undergraduate research assistants, graduate students, lab manager, post-doc, and DiSH alums all came out to enjoy a weekend full of social psychological research and networking!

At the SPH Preconference, we learned about neural mechanisms linking social threat and inflammation, emotion and health-related decision making, potential unintended consequences of genetic testing, and much more!

DiSH Grad Student Laura Finch and Lab Manager Erin Standen also presented posters at the SPH preconference!


Laura Finch presenting her poster at the SPH Preconference.

Laura Finch presenting her poster at the SPH Preconference.

Erin Standen presenting her poster at the SPH Preconference.

Erin Standen presenting her poster at the SPH Preconference.

Also on Thursday, DiSH Graduate student Jenna Cummings presented a poster as a part of the SPSP Graduate Student Poster Competition, and was named a Runner-up for the Award! We are so proud, especially because there were over two hundred posters in the competition! Congratulations, Jenna!

Jenna Cummings presenting her poster at SPSP for the Graduate Student Poster Competition.

On Friday and Saturday, DiSH Research Assistants Gracie Nguyen and Melissa Walman each presented a poster at the main SPSP Convention!

Gracie Nguyen and Laura Finch presenting a poster at the SPSP Convention.

Melissa Walman presenting research at the SPSP Convention.

Overall, it was a great weekend in San Antonio, full of fascinating research, delicious food, and lots of DiSH Lab bonding! We can’t wait to head to Atlanta, GA for next year’s SPSP Convention!

From left to right: Gracie Nguyen, Erin Standen, Dr. Mary Himmelstein, Jenna Cummings, Laura Finch, and Bernice Cheung at SPSP 2017.


Big Congratulations to Jeff Hunger, who just successfully defended his dissertation!

We are incredibly proud to congratulate Jeff Hunger on successfully defending his dissertation! Jeff did his graduate studies at the University of California, Santa Barbara under the mentorship of Dr. Brenda Major, and he will be joining us starting this winter as a DiSH Lab Postdoctoral Scholar!

This is a huge milestone in Jeff’s career, and we could not be more excited for him to join us at UCLA!

Congratulations again, Dr. Hunger!

Congratulations to Dr. Britt Ahlstrom, who just successfully defended her dissertation!

This afternoon, Britt Ahlstrom, incredible DiSH graduate student, officially became Dr. Britt Ahlstrom! She successfully defended her dissertation to her committee members (Dr. T, Dr. Ted Robles, Dr. Martie Haselton, and Dr. Traci Mann), and has earned her Ph.D!



This is a huge milestone in Dr. Ahlstrom’s career, and we are all incredibly proud to call her one of our own!

Congratulations again, Dr. Ahlstrom!