Tristen K. Inagaki, Ph.D.
inagaki [at] pitt [dot] edu
Lab Director
Tristen Inagaki is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh with primary affiliations in the Social and Biological-Health areas. She is also a faculty affiliate of the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition and directs the Social-Health and Affective Neuroscience Lab. She received her PhD from UCLA in 2014 before moving into her current position. For Tristen’s research interests, click here.

Lauren Ross
lpr6 [at] pitt [dot] edu
Graduate Student
Lauren brings to SHAN Lab an interest in the neuroscience, biology, and behavior of social bonding. We as humans come equipped with the drive to form social connections. Close social relationships are extremely important to our development and survival, and have great bearing on our health and happiness. Similarly, painful social experiences like rejection and loneliness may negatively impact our development, health, and happiness. Because of this, protective mechanisms, behaviors, and coping strategies may exist that allow humans to buffer themselves against or attempt to ameliorate social pain (such as anthropomorphizing or forming parasocial relationships), to offset the negative consequences. Lauren’s work is focused on attempting to identify these protective mechanisms, and to determine if they are adaptive and useful in mitigating the effects of social pain.

Belen Best
Undergraduate Honors Student
Belen is an undergraduate honors student. She is a junior majoring in Psychology with minors in Sociology and Gender, Sexuality, and Women’s Studies. She is interested in researching the bidirectional effects of various physiological measures and the social experience, particularly during instances of adversity. Specifically, her honors project explores the relationship between blood pressure and social perceptions. For fun, Belen enjoys cooking, staying active, and going to shows with her roommates. 

Sareen Ali
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Sareen is a junior majoring in Neuroscience, Psychology and French with a minor in Chemistry and certificate in Conceptual Foundations of Medicine. She is interested in the overall links between neurobiological systems and social experiences. She is currently working on a project assessing the relationship between blood pressure and individual differences in affective processing. In her free time, Sareen enjoys going to concerts, cooking and dancing in a hip-hop club. 


Emefa Akwayena
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Emefa is a junior majoring in Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience and plans on pursuing a Bachelor of Philosophy Degree.  She is interested in the neurobiological science behind human interactions and connections. She is currently working on a study which investigates how technology affects cognition and physiology. Emefa is a member of the Pitt Club Gymnastics Team and enjoys reading, musicals, football, and road trips with friends.


James Germano
Undergraduate Research Assistant

James is a senior undergraduate student majoring in Psychology with a minor in Statistics. He is interested in social bonding and affective neuroscience. Specifically, his interests include social pain, social support and its effect on health, and studying how feeling socially excluded impacts the brain. James enjoys reading, playing video games, and watching movies for fun. 


Kerry Owusu
Undergraduate Research Assistant
Kerry is a senior at the University of Pittsburgh studying Biological Sciences with a minor in Chemistry and Economics. She is interested in exploring the relationship between physiological measures and social experiences. Currently, she is working on a project that assesses the relationship between blood pressure and social pain. She enjoys music, sports, and helping others.


Lab Alumni


Laura Hazlett
Former Study Coordinator
Laura is now a graduate student in Social Psychology at UCLA.


Yumeka Hirayama
Former Summer Intern
Yumeka is an undergraduate at Carleton College.


Laura Armfield-Perez
Former Research Assistant
Laura is a research assistant at NYU’s Latino Family Engagement and Family Development Lab.


Emily Simon
Former Research Assistant
Emily is a clinical research coordinator at the University of Pennsylvania.