- Princeton Neuroscience Institute
I am an Associate Research Scholar in Princeton University’s Department of Psychology and Program in Neuroscience. I earned a Cognitive Science BS (Summa Cum Laude) from UC San Diego in 1993 and a Psychology doctorate from the University of Oregon in 2000. I briefly held a post-doctoral researcher position in Microsoft Research before serving as a Program Manager for several Microsoft products (notably MSN Messenger). As the technologically, socially, and financially empowered people I met at Microsoft were not obviously happier than others, I decided to return to academia in 2004 to explore our seeming inability achieve emotional well being.
It is likely that our brains have evolved to survive a confluence of homeostatic and environmental challenges. However, our current era of Western material abundance mitigate many of these challenges. Interesting questions arise from this observation. How does our new environment interact with our brains' plastic nature? Who exploits the other more: the brain, or our market-driven environment? Is it possible for the brain to behave optimally in the face of abundance? To what extent does the survival-oriented inertia of our genetics fundamentally displace the ability to experience emotional well being?
These deep and difficult-to-evaluate questions form the core of my long-term research agenda. In pursuing these questions, I have been studying how limbic and cortical structures in the brain complement and compete with each other to mediate the experience of well-being. I have also been the coordinator for a Princeton-based collaborative effort aimed at understanding how long-term meditation practice affects decision making and emotional experience.