Meet the Team

SoBaD is a research collaboration under the direction of Professor Benjamin Converse. We are comprised of undergraduate and graduate students, post-doctoral researchers, a lab manager, and collaborators from around the world.

Benjamin Converse, Associate Professor of Public Policy and Psychology

Ben has joint appointments in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy and the Department of Psychology at the University of Virginia. His work focuses on how people achieve personal and group goals in a social world. He is particularly interested in how individual thought processes lead to decisions and behaviors that promote or undermine stable social systems. To learn more about his research, visit his Batten page

Tommy Shannon, Graduate Student 

Tommy is a first-year PhD student in the Social Psychology program. He earned his undergraduate degree and a Third Mate License from the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy, a M.A. from the U.S. Naval War College, and a Master's in Public Administration with certificate in Management, Leadership, and Decision Science from Harvard. After flying in the Navy for the first part of his professional life, he's shifted focus and interest to researching how social influence impacts judgement, decision making, and motivation. When not in the classroom or lab, Tommy enjoys exploring the Charlottesville area with his family, catching a favorite band in concert, or going for a long run.

Shelly Tsang, Graduate Student

Shelly is a fifth-year graduate student in the Social Area. Before joining the lab, she completed her undergraduate degree at Cornell University, where she majored in psychology and economics and did research on judgment and decision-making, time perception, and social psychology broadly. She is interested in social influence, decision-making, and social perception. She enjoys playing music, card games, and exploring new places with people.

Natalie Baumeister, Lab Manager

Natalie works with SoBaD and JADE Labs in the Frank Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy. She studied Psychology and Cognitive Science at UVA. Her research interests include cognitive heuristics and social inequalities. Outside of the lab, you can find Natalie practicing piano, running, and writing stories.

Research Assistants

Brett Wilson

Brett Wilson is a second-year student planning on majoring in Cognitive Science and Math. He has been interested in a variety of research since the beginning of high school and has recently become more involved in the field of social psychology. He is especially interested in mental illnesses, cognitive bias, and social influence. Brett plans to become a researcher after university, and in his free time, he enjoys watching football, working out, and reading.

Luna (Jiayue) Su 

Luna (Jiayue) Su is a third-year student planning to major in Psychology and Economics. Luna enjoys working with other members at SoBaD Lab and she is curious about anything related to psychology! Outside of class, she volunteers at student-run emotion support clubs. In her free time, she also enjoys hiking, working out in the gym, and sunbathing.

Ria Khandelwal 

Hi! My name is Ria Khandelwal and I am a third year student with a major in cognitive science with a concentration in neuroscience, and minors in psychology and data analytics. My career interests include pre-medicine, specifically in the field of psychiatry. My research interests include exploring cognitive biases in decision making, especially in regards to mental health and the stigma surrounding mental illness. Outside of school, I really enjoy dancing, reading and painting. I am super excited to be working with SOBAD this fall!

Sammy Sharp

I am a fourth year student majoring in Psychology. I have been interested in the field of psychology for a while now, and am now particularly intrigued by cognitive processes that affect decision making and how we view the world. Outside of the lab, I volunteer at the UVA Medical Hospital, and you can find me on grounds playing any sport imaginable, listening to music, or just spending time outside with friends. 

Thomas Boak

My name is Thomas and I am a third-year at UVA studying Leadership and Public Policy as well as Psychology. My research interests include political decision-making, implicit biases, and the impact of policy on mental health. I enjoy hiking, playing pickleball, and watching sports in my free time. I'm looking forward to working with the SoBaD lab this fall!

Lab Alumni

Please check out our alumni working in science and education.

(as of Fall 2023, alphabetical order by last name)

Maura Austin | Postdoctoral researcher, University of Virginia
Ashley Angulo | Assistant Professor of Marketing, University of Oregon
Ilana Brody | PhD. student, University of California at Los Angeles
Johanna Cohoon | Postdoctoral researcher, University of Utah
Brendon Cummiskey | Behavioral scientist, United Network for Organ Sharing
Kyle Dobson | Assistant Professor, University of Virginia
Jacob Goldstein-Greenwood | Research Data Scientist, University of Virginia Library
Lindsay Juarez | Director, Irrational Labs
Ines Jurcevic | Assistant Professor of Policy and Governing, University of Washington
Andrew Hales | Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of Mississippi
Marie Hennecke | Professor of General and Educational Psychology, University of Siegen
Julia Holland | Green Dot Public Schools, Los Angeles
Annalisa Myer | PhD. student, City University of New York
Chris Neale | Lecturer in Psychology, University of Huddersfield
David Reinhard | Postdoctoral Researcher, University of Illinois Urbana Champaign
Alaina Segura | PhD. student, University of Michigan
Daniel Young, MD. | Pediatric Resident Physician, Cincinnati Children's Hospital
Weishan Zhang | PhD. student, University of California at Los Angeles 

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