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Samantha O

- Research Program Mentor

PhD at University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV)


Psychology, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), Neuroscience, Music Psychology, Neurodegeneration,Music Neuroscience, Dance, Hearing Loss, Speech Impairment, Development, Child Psychology, Behavioral Psychology, Music Therapy, Performance, Dance, Movement Therapy, Musical Groove (aka how we move to dance music), Mobile Apps


Hi! I'm Sam. I'm currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Bionic Ear Lab at USC. I got my PhD in Psychology in 2021 and am now gaining more experience to one day run my own research lab at a university. I study how hearing can be improved through a cochlear implant. My academic background is at the intersection of psychology, neuroscience, and music. I have also done research studying how music training improves the way we hear and think about the world and how our musical experiences shape our desire to move to music. I have also worked with people diagnosed with ADHD, children with reading disabilities, and older adults. Additionally, I have knowledge about working with a startup tech company and how to execute research from start to finish. Mostly, I love thinking deeply about how people think and act and would love to help you come up with creative ideas about how to study the way people interact with their everyday world. When not in the lab, I am an active violinist in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. I am a member of the Santa Monica Symphony and play weddings and parties all across the LA area. I am also a tap dancer and I enjoy cooking, running, hiking, traveling, eating at new restaurants, hanging out with her fiancé, Mike, and her adopted mutt, Molly.

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.

An Original Research Project

One of my favorite things to do is to creating research studies. Do you have an aching question about how humans behave that you would want to further explore? If so, what's the best way to do it? I'm here to help coach you through your own, original research project. Together, we could pursue your question using online surveys, in-person experiments, or observing how people interact with their environment. Once your data is collected, I can help you analyze your findings, craft a narrative of what you discovered, and publish the work online. Happy to work together to pursue something you are passionate about!

Scientific Writing

Much of what scientists do is figure out what has been done before. Once we know this information, we can come up with ways to pursue new research that fills the gap in what we don't currently know. We often do this through a literature review. If you are interested in a topic and want to take a deeper dive in knowing more about it, I can help you find scientific articles and write a review paper that lets other people know what has been researched on a certain topic. We can craft a scientific story together and publish the work online as a review article or a blog post. This is also helpful if you want to pursue your own, independent research and don't know where to start. It also is a great way to practice your writing skills.

Coding skills

Matlab, R, SPSS

Languages I know

Japanese, conversational

Teaching experience

I have been a private music teacher for the past 15 years. I was trained in music pedagogy while at Northwestern University with the Northwestern Strings Program. I have taught beginning, intermediate, and advanced violinists from ages 5-17. While a graduate student, I was also a part-time dance instructor at multiple competition dance studios in the Las Vegas metropolitan area. I taught 4 classes a week of beginning, intermediate, and advanced tap dance students ranging in ages from 3-18. I have also taught beginning and intermediate adult tap classes. Also during graduate school, I taught multiple sections of undergraduate General Psychology. At my current position at USC, I also guest lecture for a Music, Mind, and the Brain undergraduate seminar class about the mechanisms of hearing and hearing loss.


Work experience

University of Southern California, Keck School of Medicine (2023 - Current)
Postdoctoral Scholar
Think Now, Inc. (2013 - 2015)
Senior Research Coordinator
Northwestern University, Auditory Neuroscience Lab (2010 - 2013)
Research Assistant


Northwestern University
BMus Bachelor of Music (2011)
Violin Performance and Psychology (Dual Degree B.A./B. Mus)
University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV)
MA Master of Arts (2018)
Cognitive Psychology
University of Nevada Las Vegas (UNLV)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy (2021)
Experimental Psychology

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