Human Nature and Potentials Lab

Fan Yang

Principal Investigator

Dr. Fan Yang is a Research Assistant Professor at the University of Chicago. Fan is broadly interested in the psychological tendencies that enable us to grow and transcend ourselves. She completed her PhD in developmental psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. Fan was a post-doctoral associate at Yale University and received a master’s degree from Harvard University.

Gabriella Silva

Lab Manager
Gabriella is a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of Chicago, majoring in Psychology and Comparative Human Development. She is broadly interested in the moral development of children, in particular as it relates to their understanding of institutional power. Gabriella is currently investigating children’s moral understanding of voting processes alongside Dr. Fan Yang. Her future plan is to pursue a Ph.D. in Social Psychology and to continue her journey in research. Outside of the lab, Gabriella enjoys hiking, crocheting, and cooking.

Doctoral Student Collaborators

Yilin Liu

Yilin graduated with an M.A. in Social Sciences – Psychology from the University of Chicago and she was a previous lab manager. Yilin is interested in how early-life social and familial factors influence children’s development. Her future plan is to continue conducting research in this field and to conduct prevention programs for children and their parents/caregivers. Outside of school, Yilin is interested in traveling, playing drums, and designing educational comics.

Ishita Singhal

Ishita graduated from the MAPSS program, and is working with Dr Fan Yang to study how the performance of obligatory and supererogatory moral behaviors relates with subjective life experiences such as meaning and happiness. She is interested in the factors that influence and motivate individuals to engage in prosocial and inequality reducing behaviours, and hopes to explore these further in graduate school. Outside the lab, she enjoys cooking, and listening to audiobooks or music while walking around the city.

Qiongwen (Jovie) Cao

Jovie is a PhD student in Dr. Jean Decety’s lab at the University of Chicago. She is collaborating with Dr. Fan Yang to investigate how children value and make decisions about human lives of different ages and genders. Another line of her work combines behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience to examine the effects of moral convictions and metacognition on moral decisions. When not doing research, Jovie enjoys playing badminton, listening to music, and playing with her cat.

Jinrui Liu

I am interested in children’s sense group and its implication on moral judgment within different cultural contexts. Another line of my research interest is the developmental trajectory of gender stereotypes.

Mengdi Huang

PhD student in Social Psychology at Molden Lab, Northwestern University

Yena Kim

Yena Kim is a PhD Student of Behavioral Science at the Booth School of Business. She graduated with a BA in psychology (honors) from UChicago in 2021. She is also a recipient of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship. Using diverse research methods, both in-lab and out in the field, she studies aspirations to improve oneself across the lifespan and, in particular, whether exercising epistemic humility helps us craft better futures for ourselves and for others.

Laura Soter

Ph.D. Student at University of Michigan


Joseph Heffner

Ph.D. Student at Brown University

Stella Gerdemann

Ph.D. Student at Leipzig University

Masters Students

Yuzhen Fu

Yuzhen (Erin) Fu is a graduate student in the University of Chicago’s MA program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS) with a Psychology concentration. She graduated from Wenzhou-Kean University with a B.S. in Psychology (honors) and a minor in Philosophy & Religion in 2023. Her primary research interest is children’s learning motivation, currently focusing on its relationship with emotions and social norms. 

Yixin Cao

Yixin Cao, a MAPSS Psychology track graduate student at the University of Chicago, holds a B.A. in Psychology with an Economics minor from UBC. She is passionate about investigating the development of moral values and prosocial behaviors in young children. Her research interests focus on children’s moral development and moral transcendence. She is also a crazy fan of horror films, although she is pretty scared.

Janice Im

Janice recently graduated from the University of Chicago’s Master of Arts program in the Social Sciences (Psychology track). Her master’s thesis examined how children evaluate individuals with different impact mindsets, furthering our understanding of how we develop the ability to appreciate the social impact mindset. She is continuing to work with Dr. Fan Yang to further her study, while also working with the Epley Lab team at UChicago Booth’s Center for Decision Research.

Brian Ge

Brian is a graduate student at the University of Chicago’s MA program for the Social Sciences, where he is currently enrolled in the psychology concentration. He graduated from Pepperdine University in the Spring of 2022 with a B.A. in Psychology, a minor in English, and a second minor in Great Books. His research interest is on the pursuit of Meaning in Life, its connections with Eudaimonic Wellbeing, and its variations across cultural values systems.

Dylan Morrow

Dylan is a graduate student in the University of Chicago’s M.A. Program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS) with a concentration in psychology. He graduated from the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a B.S. in Psychology (honors; neuroscience track) and B.A. in Philosophy in 2022. His primary research interests extend across the breadth of moral psychology, including moral duties and judgments, altruism, and moral blame and punishment. In his free time, he loves listening to music, playing games with friends, and hiking.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Jacob Zhang

Hi! I’m Jacob Zhang, a third-year undergraduate student at UChicago. My main academic interest is happiness and wellbeing studies. I am passionate about psychology, economics and philosophy.

Isabella Sun

Isabella is a fourth-year undergraduate at the University of Chicago who is majoring in psychology and economics. She is interested in how children and adults differ in their sense of morality and justice, as well as how language affects decision making. Outside of the lab, she enjoys cooking food from different cultures and playing badminton.

Declan Gunn

Declan is a third-year undergraduate student double majoring in cognitive science and philosophy. He works as a teaching assistant at various middle and high schools around Chicago’s South Side, and his interests revolve around moral philosophy, developmental education psychology, and writing in the third person. Outside academic environments, you’ll find Declan beekeeping and playing guitar (non-simultaneously).

Angelysse Madsen

Angelysse is a fourth year in college studying psychology, comparative human development, and neuroscience. Her interests primarily lie in how humans think and operate in society, how we make decisions, and how we determine the “rules” we live by, whether morals or religion.

Sophia Emy

Sophia is a second-year undergraduate double majoring in Comparative Human Development and Psychology. She is interested in the formation of identity, as well as the notion of the “self”. More specifically, Sophia wants to investigate the relationship between language and one’s self-perception. Outside of academics, she enjoys fashion, traveling, and photography.

Mackenzie Leblanc

Mackenzie is a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Chicago majoring in Biology and pursuing a career in clinical psychology. She is interested in how children and adults perceive happiness differently and how children develop moral transcendence. Outside of academic settings, Mackenzie competes for the UChicago swim team and enjoys painting.

Sarah Glenn

Sarah is a second-year undergraduate student studying psychology. She is interested in how children perceive happiness and the development of decision-making skills. Outside of academics, Sarah enjoys running, cooking, and spending time with her friends and family!

Lab Alumni

Artemisia Deluna

Artemisia Deluna

Former Ph.D. Student in Development Psychology at UChicago

Jacky Beck

Jacky Beck

Former Lab Manager, now PhD student at UC Irvine Cognitive Science

Jenny Chang

Jenny Chang

MAPSS graduate

Jessica Lee

Jessica Lee

Lab member, now PhD student in Developmental Psychology at the University of British Columbia

Margaret Wolfson

Margaret Wolfson

Former undergraduate thesis student

Mollie Davies

Mollie Davies

Former undergraduate thesis student

Sarah Jensen

Sarah Jensen

Lab member, Now PhD student at University of Utah Eccles School of Business

Yanwen Yu

Yanwen Yu

MAPSS graduate

Dr. Kevin Wei

Dr. Kevin Wei

Dr. Hannah Hok

Dr. Hannah Hok

Previous Undergrad RAs

Alice Tay
Audrey Sze
Cameron Najafi
Efe Dogruoz
Grace Wang
Lucy Li
Matthew Tineo
Nick Madgett
Laura Sandino
Tina Chen
Courtney Leung
Caroline Wang
Meriel Doyle