Human Nature and Potentials Lab

Fan Yang

Principle 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.

Jacqueline (Jacky) Beck

Lab Manager

Jacky graduated from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign with a B.S. in Developmental Psychology. As an undergrad, she worked with Dr. Andrei Cimpian as an honors student & lab supervisor to study children’s social beliefs. Her current interest lies in understanding people’s moral judgments and behaviors, as well as motivation. She plans to attend graduate school in the future to study social cognition. Feel free to contact her if you have any questions!

Adiah Coffey

Adiah is a second-year undergraduate at the University of Chicago with a planned major in Psychology and minor in Spanish. She’s very interested in developmental psychology as it pertains to happiness and morality, and hopes to pursue work as a School Psychologist. In her free time, she enjoys poetry, baking, and exploring Chicago.

Alice Tay

Alice Tay is a first-year student at the University of Chicago, majoring in Psychology and English. She is interested in developmental psychology, specifically how children’s personalities and valuation of themselves differ across cultures. Outside of the lab, Alice enjoys dancing, playing piano and biking around Chicago.

Cameron Najafi

Cameron is a first-year undergraduate at the University of Chicago with an intended self-designed major on global catastrophic risks (e.g. climate change, nuclear war). He is deeply interested in the mechanisms of self-transcendence/the Bodhisattva vow and how it applies to navigate—psychologically, politically, socially, aesthetically—ecological and humanitarian crises. For inspiration, he enjoys reading, meditation, yoga, (inter)personal exploration, roaming mountains, watching clouds and sunrises.

Chih-Ning (Jenny) Chang

Jenny graduated from the University of Chicago’s MA Program in the Social Sciences (MAPSS) in 2019 and is currently preparing to apply to PhD. She completed her MA work in cultural psychology with Dr. Richard Shweder. Her current research in the lab concerns how cultural change engendered by intensified globalization affects people’s conception of happiness. Besides research, Jenny enjoys yoga, gardening, cooking and baking.

Efe Dogruoz

Efe is an undergraduate student at the College majoring in Psychology and History. He is interested in the development of moral concepts, and specifically how essentialism affects moral judgments. Efe is currently working on a project investigating the link between affect and essentialist understandings of morality.

Jinrui Liu

Jinrui graduated from the University of Illinois and is now a master’s student in the MAPSS program. Jinrui has a broad interest in group polarization and different perceptions of apparent features (e.g., appearance, clothes, accent, language). She plans to pursue a Ph.D. after graduation.

Lucy Li

Lucy is a current undergraduate student at Washington & Jefferson College, majoring in psychology with double-minors in sociology and Spanish. She has a passion for moral psychology, and is broadly interested in the social influences of morality and its effects on children’s behaviors and choices. Outside of the lab, Lucy enjoys listening to music, traveling, and exploring new hobbies.

Lucy Liang

Lucy Liang is a first-year student at the University of Chicago who plans to major in Neuroscience. Her current interest lies in the topic of understanding and treating mental illnesses and the relationship of happiness and meaning with mental health. Outside of the lab, she loves music and plays the piano and flute.

Margaret Wolfson

Margaret is a third-year at the University of Chicago, majoring in Psychology with a minor in English and Creative Writing. She is broadly interested in developmental psychology with a specific interest in the morality of children. She is currently working on a project in the lab that explores the early moral tendencies of children to gain pleasure at the expense of another’s pain. Outside of her studies, Margaret is a member of the University of Chicago swim team.

Mengdi Huang

Mengdi Huang is currently a master student in the MAPSS program. She received her bachelor’s degree with honors in Social Psychology from the University of California, San Diego and was a summer intern in the Markman lab at Stanford University, working with Dr. Lin Bian. Her research interests center around the intersection of social cognition and emotions. For her master thesis, she is planning to examine if people naturally prioritize their own interests over others or vice versa, and whether this notion contributes to a meaningful life/career. Outside of the lab, she enjoys playing with cats, drinking boba and listening to SoundCloud music!


Matthew Tineo

Matthew Tineo is a second-year undergraduate student majoring in psychology at the University of the Pacific. He is doing a summer internship at the Human Nature and Potentials Lab through the Leadership Alliance. He is interested in developmental psychology, specifically in how shyness and temperament develops in children. Outside of the lab, he enjoys music, movies, and reading.

Mollie Davies

Mollie is a 3rd year undergraduate majoring in psychology with a minor in neuroscience. She is particularly interested in meaning in life, whether it be existential meaning or the meaning we ascribe to actions. Mollie is also involved on campus with Model United Nations and Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women, and hopes to enter a graduate program for psychology after completing her degree.

Yanwen Yu

Yanwen is a student in the Masters Program in the Social Science (MAPSS) psychology concentration. She is broadly interested on the topic of subjective well-being and how it influences people’s behavior, particularly social behavior. Currently, Yanwen is working with Dr. Yang on a project examining the bi-directional relationship between moral behaviors and happiness for her master thesis. Outside of studies, she loves yoga, music, and cooking.

Youyi Wu

Youyi is a freshman at the University of Chicago, majoring in economics and psychology. Her current research interests are motivation, morality, and their relations with economics. She is considering researches based on the idea of whether people will change their behavior while they realize their decision may have a significant influence on the group. She also enjoys designing board games and playing video games outside of the lab.