We are an interdisciplinary research lab interested in the psychological determinants and consequences of hierarchy, networks, and technology. We read about, discuss, and conduct research on a wide range of topics, including power and status, judgment and decision making, cultural transmission, morality, network formation, behavior tracking, and algorithms.

Lab Director


Nathanael Fast is an Associate Professor of Management and Organization at the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business. He received his Ph.D. in Organizational Behavior from Stanford University.

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Jonathan Gratch is Director for Virtual Human Research at the University of Southern California’s (USC) Institute for Creative Technologies, a Research Full Professor of Computer Science and Psychology at USC and Director of USC’s Computational Emotion Group. He completed his Ph.D. in Computer Science at the University of Illinois in Urban-Champaign in 1995. Dr. Gratch’s research focuses on computational models of human cognitive and social processes, especially emotion, and explores these models’ role in shaping human-computer interactions in virtual environments. In particular, he studies the relationship between cognition and emotion, the cognitive processes underlying emotional responses, and the influence of emotion on decision making and physical behavior.


Gale Lucas is a research assistant professor at the University of Southern California in the Viterbi School of Engineering and works at the USC Institute for Creative Technologies (ICT). She obtained her BA from Willamette University in 2005 and her PhD from Northwestern University in 2010. After teaching for a couple of years at small liberal arts colleges, she went back for a post-doc. She completed her post-doc with Dr. Jon Gratch at ICT, and then stayed on at ICT as a senior research associate. She works in the areas of human-computer interaction, affective computing, and trust-in-automation. Her research focuses on rapport, disclosure, trust, persuasion, and negotiation with virtual agents and social robots.

Lab Manager


Liz Quinn received her B.S. in Psychology from Northwestern University in 2018. She currently works as a Research Coordinator at the USC Marshall School of Business. Liz is interested in understanding how implicit and explicit biases, stereotypes, and inter-group conflict effect decision-making and inter-group interactions in various contexts (i.e. policy-making, organizations, the legal arena, etc.). In her free time, Liz enjoys going on adventures with her partner, Charlie, and obsessing over her black lab, Maguire.

Post-Doctoral Scholar


Oliver Fisher is a postdoctoral research associate in the Management and Organization department at Marshall. He received his Ph.D. in Social Psychology from the University of Southern California. Oliver’s research has focused on identity and motivation, specifically how people interpret their experiences of difficulty and the consequences this has for motivation and cognition. Recently, he’s been interested in how increased automation in the workplace can shape people’s motivation and how they view themselves.

Graduate Students


Merrick Osborne is a Ph.D. student in the department of Management and Organization at the Marshall School of Business. He received his B.A. in psychology, and earned minors in Business Administration and Spanish for the Professions from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Before he came to USC, he served as a research assistant at the Stanford Graduate School of Business. Currently, Merrick is studying the impact of empowering lower power employees in power hierarchies. Additionally, he is interested in using computational methods to analyze text-based data.


David Newman is a Ph.D.  in Management and Organization. He earned his B.A. in psychology from Yale University and his J.D. from Harvard Law School. His research interests include moral foundations theory, business ethics, the morality of technology, the pursuit of meaning, and the psychology of property and ownership.


Mindy Truong received her B.S. in Psychology at the University of California, San Diego in 2014. She is currently a Ph.D. student in the Management and Organization department at the USC Marshall School of Business where she previously worked as the research coordinator/lab manager for two years. She is interested in how people's backgrounds affect the way they think, feel, and behave. More specifically, she is interested in how people's social class backgrounds and ideological beliefs influence their organizational outcomes.


Andrea Villafuerte is a Ph.D. student in the Management and Organization department at the USC Marshall School of Business. She earned her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan. Before joining USC, she worked as a research coordinator at Stanford's Graduate School of Business. She is interested in understanding how our own identities, as well as our hierarchy and diversity beliefs, shape our understanding of inequality and intergroup relations.


Kushal Chawla is a Ph.D. student (starting Fall’19) at the University of Southern California (USC). He is currently interested in the overlap between Human-Computer Interaction (HCI) and Natural Language Processing (NLP). Prior to USC, he pursued his Bachelors in Computer Science from the Indian Institute of Technology Guwahati (IITG). After graduating in 2017, he spent a couple of years with Adobe Research, focusing on NLP applications in marketing, including affect modelling and text summarization.

Research Assistants


Hridee Patel is a sophomore at USC majoring in Computer Science/Business Administration. Coming from India, she has been exposed to a wide array of cultures throughout her life. This makes her want to learn more about the different behaviors of different people. She also has a strong interest in machines and technology. Working at the lab she hopes to learn more about the cross section of humans and machines in AI. She wants to get a better understanding as to how to make computers think like humans and how humans react to these changes in technology. She loves to travel and meet new people.

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Liam McAlaine is an undergraduate student studying Business Administration. He is interested in power and status dynamics in organizations, unconscious bias, AI, and human interaction with technology. After USC, he plans to pursue a career in management consulting and has a strong interest in the healthcare sector. He will also seek graduate education in the future. Outside of academics, he enjoys playing basketball, keeping up with European soccer, and spending time with friends.s.



Ali Karandish is a junior at USC studying Psychology. His primary research interests revolve around the overprescription of amphetamines, relationships between caregivers and patients, ADHD, Autism, mental ability and intelligence. Following his undergraduate career he hopes to pursue a degree in medicine and to continue his interests in research. 


Rhea Bhatia is an undergraduate student from Dubai majoring in Psychology and minoring in Consumer Behavior. She is interested in research on the influence of human decision making. In the future, she hopes to use a combination of Data Analysis and Psychology to predict behavioral trends of consumers. 

Lab Alumni

  • Arthur Jago (former post-doctoral scholar), Assistant Professor at the University of Washington - Tacoma's Milgard School of Business

  • Brittany Torrez (former lab manager), PhD student at Yale School of Management

  • Roshni Raveendhran (former doctoral student), Assistant Professor at University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business

  • Joseph Gaebler (former research assistant), Equity Research Analyst at Goldman Sachs

  • Murali Joshi (former research assistant), Technology Investor at ICONIQ Capital - Technology & Venture Capital

  • Janine Kim (former research assistant), Research Associate at LRW Tonic

  • Yeri Cho (former doctoral student), Assistant Professor, Management, University of La Verne

  • Priyanka Joshi (former doctoral student), Assistant Professor, San Francisco State University, School of Business

  • Kiansiong Tey (former research assistant), PhD student at INSEAD

  • Jade Ponciano (former research assistant), MA Candidate at Georgetown University