Getting to know the team
Dr. A. Janet Tomiyama
A. Janet Tomiyama, Ph.D., (you can call her Dr. T) is a professor of Psychology at UCLA, where she also heads up the DIeting, Stress, and Health (DiSH) lab. She went to Cornell for undergrad, graduating in 2001, and got her doctorate in Psychology from UCLA, graduating in 2009. Her work has been recognized by early career awards from national organizations like the Association for Psychological Science, and has received wide media coverage from outlets like USA Today, LA Times, BBC News, NPR, and even The Onion. Her research, which has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, focuses on the harmful health and health equity consequences of stress, dieting, and fat shaming.
Simi graduated from UCLA in June 2022 with a B.S in Psychobiology and minor in Applied Developmental Psychology. This past year she worked as an administrative assistant for the UCLA Department of Psychology, Health Area and helped out with the Semel Healthy Campus Initiative EngageWell Pod. Under these roles, she engaged in research through her involvement in an EngageWell study centered around grief on UCLA campus as well as through her own independent research on optimism, both of which are currently ongoing. Outside of work, Simi enjoys mailing letters to her friends, smothering her cat, and going on Barnes & Noble and Salt & Straw runs. On a rainy day, she loves to eat a hot bowl of soup, especially one she can have with a side of rice. As the incoming lab manager for the DiSH Lab, Simi is excited to get involved in more research. After having interned with CACFP Roundtable, engaging in legislative advocacy regarding ensuring meals for children pre-K, she’s especially interested in the lab’s research goals surrounding food insecurity and its physiological effects.
Ziba graduated from UCLA in 2023 with a B.A. in Psychology. Prior to her role as a lab coordinator, she contributed to the DiSH lab as a research assistant for two R01 research studies. She ultimately plans to obtain a Ph.D. and pursue a career in academia. During her leisure hours, she enjoys playing her viola and participating in various sporting activities. Her favorite comfort food is pizza. She is most excited to collaborate with the DiSH team on ongoing and future research projects. She looks forward to exchanging ideas and fostering an innovative research environment within the laboratory.
Rosha graduated from UCLA in June 2023 with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in LGBTQ Studies. She now works full-time as a study coordinator for one of DiSH Lab’s R01s. Prior to this position, she volunteered as a research assistant in both Haselton Lab and the Baby Lab for two years. She was later accepted into the Psychology Departmental Honors program. In the Honors Program, Rosha wrote her thesis on the various social biases held toward different body types, and was awarded the Timothy Chheang Memorial Award for outstanding honors thesis defense presentation. She plans to obtain a Ph.D. and has future goals of pursuing a career in academia. In her free time, Rosha likes to listen to Hozier, read books, and crochet. Her favorite comfort food is any type of vegetarian soup, but especially minestrone. She is excited to join DiSH lab to both support the incredibly important research being done on weight stigma and to further her own research on the topic.
David is a first-year graduate student in UCLA’s Health Psychology program. He received his undergraduate degree in Psychology from UCLA in 2021. His research broadly focuses on socioeconomic-based health disparities. He is currently interested in investigating how social class stigma negatively impacts health. Outside the lab, David enjoys cooking breakfast, critiquing movies, and caring for his carnivorous plants.
Manuel is a second-year graduate student in UCLA’s Health Psychology program. He received his undergraduate degree in Psychology from UCLA. Broadly, he is interested in how identity, stigma, and discrimination intersect to differentially affect health outcomes among minority individuals. He is particularly interested in how these forces affect the health and well-being of sexual and gender minorities who also identify as racial/ethnic minorities. Outside of the lab, Manuel loves taking care of his plants, driving along the PCH, and taking hot girl walks.
Jordan is a fourth-year graduate student in UCLA’s Health Psychology program. She graduated from Stanford University with a degree in Psychology and minors in African American Studies and Spanish. Jordan’s research focuses on the intersections between race and health. She has a specific interest in health trajectories and health behaviors within the African-American community and how colorism affects experiences of discrimination and health outcomes. Outside of the lab, Jordan loves to experiment with new vegetarian recipes, take Penny on long walks, and re-watch Grey’s Anatomy for the millionth time.
Jordan is a fifth-year graduate student in UCLA’s Developmental Psychology program. She graduated with her BA in Psychology from Monmouth University in 2015. Jordan’s research focuses on the effects of weight stigma on development. More specifically, she is interested in the connection between weight stigma and disordered eating behaviors, and body dissatisfaction. Further, she plans to explore how weight stigma is perpetuated within families and in the media, and how viewing and experiencing this stigma affects adolescents. Outside of the lab, Jordan loves to curl up with her cat Millie and read a good book, or spend the day at the beach.
Kristen is a fifth-year graduate student in UCLA’s Health Psychology program. She graduated from UC Berkeley in 2014 with her B.A. in Psychology. Broadly, Kristen is interested in understanding the relationships between social connection and eating behavior and their shared biological pathways that ultimately influence health outcomes. She is also interested in weight stigma and health behavior change related to eating and weight issues. When she’s not in the lab, Kristen loves working in the community garden, growing her own plant babies, hiking/backpacking, and experimenting in the kitchen.
Daniel is a sixth-year graduate student in UCLA’s Social Psychology and Health Psychology programs. He earned his B.S. in Human Development from Cornell University. Daniel’s research centers on morality, social identity, gender, and eating behavior, with a particular focus on the psychology of vegetarianism. Outside of academia, Daniel enjoys playing table tennis and hiking. Check out his Google Scholar page here.
DiSH Lab Alumni
Dr. Jeffrey Hunger
Broadly speaking, Jeff is interested in using insights from social and personality psychology to understand and improve population health. Jeff is particularly interested in the mechanisms by which social and structural conditions (e.g., discrimination) can contribute to poorer mental and physical health among stigmatized populations. Much of his current work is focused on elucidating the mental and physical effects of weight-based social identity threat. In other lines of research, Jeff examines factors that contribute to (and mitigate) anti-fat bias, exploring the potentially detrimental consequences of perceiving oneself as “overweight,” and working to understand the personal and social influences on cardiometabolic health among higher bodyweight individuals. Learn more at JeffreyHunger.com
Dr. Angela C. Incollingo Rodriguez
Angela is a 2018 DiSH Lab graduate. She is now an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Worcester Polytechnic Institute in the Department of Social Science and Policy Studies. Her program of research focuses on understanding how various psychological and biological stressors can influence our eating behaviors and weight, and how our eating behaviors and weight can, in turn, lead to psychological and biological stress. She also examines these processes in the context of pregnancy. Always prioritizing work-life balance, Angela is the proud mom of a feisty toddler princess and a smiley baby boy, a dedicated wife, a travel bug, and a lifelong explorer of food. Learn more about her here.
Dr. Jenna Cummings
Jenna graduated from UCLA’s Health Psychology program in June 2018. She is now a postdoctoral research fellow at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor. Her program of research crosses work on eating and alcohol use while exploring topics like reward, reinforcement, genetics, social relationships, and stress. Her broader aspirations include extending past the scientific community and improving health in the larger community at risk. Outside lab (or sometimes in) you’ll catch her dancing, unconsciously singing, and tasting new dishes of course! You can learn more here.
Dr. Laura Finch
Laura graduated from UCLA’s Health Psychology program in June 2018. She is now a postdoctoral fellow at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University. She earned her B.S. in Human Development at Cornell University with concentrations in Social and Personality development and Nutrition and Health. Laura’s research interests center on understanding the biopsychosocial causes and effects of eating behavior. Her most recent work focuses on comfort eating, including both the physiological underpinnings driving this behavior, and the psychological benefits it reaps via stress reduction. Outside the lab, Laura loves being outdoors, whether it’s hiking, snowboarding, or playing tennis. Learn more at lauraefinch.com.
Dr. Britt (Ahlstrom) Lampert
Britt graduated from UCLA’s Health Psychology Ph. D. program in Fall of 2016, and is now an employee at SpaceX. Prior to entering the DiSH Lab, Britt worked for two years as the laboratory manager of the Health and Eating Laboratory at the University of Minnesota. Britt is interested in improving the nutrition and psychological experience of individuals in extreme and isolated environments. To contact Britt or to see recent updates, check out www.linkedin.com/in/britt-lampert !
Dr. Mary Himmelstein
Mary earned her Ph. D. in social psychology and intradisciplinary health at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey in 2016. Her research concerns three areas as they relate to health, healthcare, and stress outcomes: (1) stigma and prejudice, (2) chronic dieting and obesity, and (3) gender beliefs. Outside of the lab, Mary enjoys kayaking, hiking, and camping at the Delaware Water Gap. As in most of the DISHRAGS, she always has room for the ultimate trifecta: good food, good friends, and good wine! Learn more here!
Dr. Lauren Hofschneider
Lauren graduated from UCLA’s Health Psychology program in June 2022 and is now a professor in the Psychology department at Los Angeles City College. A former native from Saipan, CNMI, Lauren received her undergraduate degree from UC Irvine in Psychology and Social Behavior. She is interested in exploring racial disparities in health and how certain health behaviors may buffer or exacerbate these differences. Apart from research, Lauren occupies time by improving her mind by extensive reading, perfecting her holiday savory tart, and subtly dropping pop culture references.
Dr. Benjamin Seitz
Ben graduated from UCLA’s Psychology program, studying memory and eating processes, in June 2022. He is now a UX researcher at Square working on products and services that help small businesses sell online. He was initially interested in studying basic laws of learning and memory but soon discovered whacky things kept happening when food was involved in his experiments. He has since joined Dr. Tomiyama’s lab and is now primarily interested in how basic learning and memory processes influence eating behaviors and, conversely, how eating behaviors may be governed by unique learning and memory processes. He received his undergraduate training at Binghamton University and is an avid fan of Chelsea FC. To see more about what Ben is up to, check out his personal page here.
Lab Manager Alumni
Alejandra graduated from UCLA in June 2021 with a B.A. in Psychology. She previously worked as a research assistant, lab manager, and full-time study coordinator for the DiSH lab. Alejandra is now a graduate student pursuing Clinical psychology at UNCG. Outside of research, Alejandra enjoys going to concerts, exercising, and playing with her dog.
Ava is a recent UCLA graduate, who majored in Psychology and minored in Education Studies. She previously worked as a research assistant and Lab Manager for the DiSH Lab. Currently, she is obtaining her Master’s in Marriage and Family Therapy at USC. Aside from research, Ava loves traveling, watching documentaries, and discovering new music.
Nadia graduated from UCLA with a degree in Psychology and a minor in Education Studies. She was a DiSH Summer Intensive student, RA, and study coordinator prior to being lab manager her senior year. She is now a graduate student at UCI Masters in Teaching and Multi-Subject Credential Program. Outside of the lab, Nadia loves traveling, spending time with family and friends, and trying new places to eat brunch!
Alyssa graduated from UCLA with a B.A. in Psychology. She was a DiSH Lab RA and study coordinator for two years prior to being an amazing lab manager for several years! She is now a graduate student at SDSU/UCSD joint doctoral program in Clinical Psychology. Outside the lab, Alyssa loves spending time with family, exploring the latest country music, and having Gilmore Girls-esque dinners with friends.
Erin graduated from UCLA with a degree in Psychobiology and Spanish. She initially became interested in the DiSH lab after participating in one of the lab’s studies on weight stigma, and she’s been hooked on the lab’s fascinating research ever since! After being our amazing lab manager for several years, she is now a graduate student at the University of Minnesota’s Social Psychology program. Outside the lab, Erin loves traveling, listening to music, and spending time with friends.
Jolene earned her BS in Psychobiology from UCLA. Funny enough, she heard about the DiSH Lab through a friend’s Facebook status and being a lover of food and psychology, she had to know more. She first started as a DiSH Lab RA, but she has also had the privilege of being the lab manager for over two years. Now, she is managing two studies in the lab, as she is currently applying to medical school. Outside the lab, Jolene loves to catch up with friends and explore all the best restaurants that Yelp has to offer!
Cashew Chicken Tomiyama
Cashew is the official lab greeter, as she loves to run around welcoming people into the lab. She joined the DiSH Lab a few years ago, and ever since has been loving all the attention and constant petting she gets around the lab!
Roxy is the newest furry addition to the lab! Roxy enjoys sunbathing, going on long walks, and listening to metal music. She is also passionate about the research being done at the DiSH Lab (especially because it involves food) and is proud to be a lab member!
Undergraduate Research Assistants