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The Team


Elisa C. Baek, Ph.D.

Elisa: pronounced like “Melissa” without the “M”
Baek: pronounced “Bek”

Lab Director

Elisa Baek is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at USC. She completed her B.A., M.A., and Ph.D., at the University of Pennsylvania and her postdoctoral training at UCLA. Elisa draws from methods and approaches from social psychology, neuroscience, network science, and communication to study what helps people feel socially connected to one another. Outside of the lab, she enjoys hosting dinner parties and going out in nature with the lab pup, Mochi.


Begüm Babür

Begüm: pronounced like legume with a B instead of an L
Babur: pronounced "Bah-bure"

Ph.D. Student

Begüm graduated from Barnard College, with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Statistics. She is currently a first year doctoral student in the Social Connection Lab. Broadly, she is interested in studying what makes two people click and what distinguishes people who can easily create successful social connections from others. Outside of the lab, she enjoys traveling, finding good music and food spots in the city, and photography.

profile pic_chang.jpg

Chang Lu

Ph.D. Student

Chang is a first-year doctoral student in the Social Connection Lab. She completed her B.A. at the University of California, Irvine, and her M.A. at New York University. Her research interests revolve around the interplay between social connections and information-sharing behavior, such as how individuals' desire for social connection drives information-sharing with others. In her spare time, she loves walking in nature-filled spots and urban landscapes. 


Jacob Zimmerman

Lab Manager

Jacob graduated from Pomona College with a B.A. in Cognitive Science and dual minors in Psychology and Math. He is currently the lab manager at the Social Connection Lab. Within the lab, he is especially interested in exploring topics of connectedness and the collective mind in the context of communication tools. Outside the lab, he enjoys hiking, cooking, and music production.


Jay Campanell

Campanell: pronounced "Camp-Uh-Nell"

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Jay is a first-year undergraduate student studying Global Geodesign. He is interested in exploring how people feel connected in both physical and online spaces. Outside of the lab, he loves to play tennis, try new restaurants and cafes, and snorkeling.


Zack Culver

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Zack is a first-year undergraduate student at USC studying Behavioral Economics. He is very interested in a career researching the science behind real-world decision-making. Outside the lab, he enjoys playing water polo, skiing, and cooking.


Preyashi Poddar

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Preyashi is a second-year undergraduate student studying Psychology and Data Science. She is interested in exploring the concept of shared reality and loneliness. Outside of the lab, she loves to play frisbee, travel and do adventurous activities, and drink coffee.


Makayla Lui

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Makayla is second-year undergraduate student studying Cognitive Science. She is interested in exploring how shared experiences and cultural values shape peoples unique identities. Outside of the lab, she loves to go to the beach, watch movies, and explore museums.

The Team Support


Mochi Baek

Mochi: pronounced moh-chee
Baek: pronounced “Bek”

Lab Mascot

Mochi completed his degrees in puppy class 1 and 2 and proudly sits for treats and pets. Mochi is an expert in social connection, and one of his favorite ways to achieving social connection is to sit on a human's lap while working very hard to chew a bone. He will gladly provide puppy support to all who need it on the days that he is in the lab. Outside of the lab, he enjoys running free at dog beaches.

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