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Macrina D

- Research Program Mentor

PhD candidate at University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)


Psychology, social psychology, neuroscience, political psychology


I am a doctoral candidate at UCLA studying social psychology. I work in a laboratory called the Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, where we use a variety of techniques (including surveys and neuroimaging) to try to understand the "social brain." I am passionate about using research to help understand why it's hard for us to understand or communicate with people who are different from us. My dissertation research involves applying machine learning techniques to neural data to make predictions. For instance, can we predict things like people's political attitudes or whether they are in conflict with someone else? I am also a research manager at a non-profit EdTech start-up called OpenMind, where our mission is to help people learn to communicate and collaborate across differences. In this role, I am passionate about drawing on my academic background to help develop educational content that is rooted in science. I also have experience translating complex scientific ideas for a broad audience, having worked as a science editor at The Huffington Post. I continue to be committed to making scientific findings more accessible to the general public. Outside of work and school, I love to hike, read, sing, play board games, and hang out with my dog (pictured).

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

Leveraging Psychology to Help Bridge Political Divides

Over the past few decades, Americans have become increasingly polarized. How can we take insights from psychology to help people better understand those who are "on the other side" of the political spectrum? This project could involve reading articles/books, interviewing exercises, and more to identify potential interventions. It could take the form of a research paper, research transformed into a blog post, video or podcast format, or an online survey where we collect our own data.

Design a Computer Task for a Neuroimaging Study

In this project, we can start with a question that you have about the brain - e.g. how does the brain respond to statements that are funny versus sad? We will brainstorm ideas, explore important considerations, and program the task in a user-friendly (free) program called PsychoPy.

Coding skills

R, Matlab, Python

Languages I know

Spanish (basic)

Teaching experience

I have a lot of experience teaching college students about psychology, having served as a teaching assistant for 7 undergraduate courses in psychology. In addition, I have mentored 7 independent research projects, which my research assistants conducted from start to finish. I love getting the chance to provide feedback and help shape other people's research ideas.


Work experience

OpenMind Platform (2019 - Current)
Research Manager
Facebook (2020 - 2020)
UX Research Intern
The Huffington Post (2013 - 2015)
Science Editor


Yale University
BA Bachelor of Arts (2012)
Cognitive Science
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
MA Master of Arts
University of California Los Angeles (UCLA)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy candidate

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