profile picture

Taylor W

- Research Program Mentor

PhD at University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill)


Social Psychology, Positive Psychology, Emotions, Health, Well-being, Meditation, Social Relationships, Prosocial Behavior, Culture, Social Class, Economic Inequality, Political Polarization


I am originally from Phoenix, Arizona and completed my BS and Master's degree in Psychological Sciences at Northern Arizona University. Following two 'gap' years teaching English abroad, I moved to North Carolina where I am now a doctoral student in Social Psychology at UNC Chapel Hill. My primary research interest is in human well-being and the conditions which make us thrive and bring out the best in people-- as well as how this may vary across a range of environments (e.g., class, culture). I also study barriers to human well-being, such as rising economic inequality, political polarization, and chronic inflammation. I primarily study well-being through the lens of emotion science, and how these emotions contribute to our social connections (with close others or complete strangers), our mental and physical health (e.g., loneliness, inflammation, gene expression), and our behavior toward others (e.g., kindness, altruism, humility toward diverse political points). One way I have studied emotions is also through different forms of meditation training (mindfulness & loving-kindness). My favorite part of mentoring students is getting them excited about research and the scientific process! In my free time, I like to read, travel, and be outside. But mostly, I do research on whatever is interesting to me - which I truly love.

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.

When and how is social media associated with social connection and loneliness?

Young adults are increasingly lonely, yet use social media more than ever. How might social media contribute to the current loneliness epidemic? Can social media be used to increase positive connection on AND offline? In this project, we will investigate the state of the research on social media and social connection. We can then design an experiment to test a hypothesis, write a review, synthesize the literature to create blogposts, or create a social media campaign to increase connection!

Positive Psychology & Psychoneuroimmunology

Research is just tapping into how social behavior and inflammatory processes influence one another. In this project, we will dive into this new cutting-edge area of research at the cross between social psychology, psychoneuroimmunology and positive psychology to understand how inflammation can shape our emotions and social relationships.

How is human behavior shaped by societal factors?

How do societal factors - from culture and class, to economic inequality and political polarization - shape human behavior? In this project, you will pick one societal factor you are interested in and do a "deep dive" into how it shapes psychological processing and how people interact with one another. Together, we can explore a range of questions that most interest you, from how do romantic relationships differ across culture or class, to how does economic inequality influence perceptions of trust and competition? This project can either be a scientific review paper or the product of a secondary analysis of data from publicly available sources.

Coding skills


Teaching experience

- With Polygence, I have mentored 4 students through complete projects. - In the University setting, I have taught students for several years in introductory and social psychology courses. - I mentor a team of undergraduate students in my lab, including undergraduate honors thesis projects. - I served as a co-mentor to two students in the National Science Foundation (NSF) Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU) program. - Before starting my PhD program, I worked for two years as a Freelance English teacher in Germany, mostly teaching private lessons.



Northern Arizona University
BS Bachelor of Science (2016)
Psychological Sciences
Northern Arizona University
MA Master of Arts (2017)
University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill (UNC Chapel Hill)
PhD Doctor of Philosophy

Completed Projects

Interested in working with expert mentors like Taylor?

Apply now