MADLAB is a vertically-integrated, interdisciplinary laboratory, co-directed by Phil Costanzo (Psychology and Neuroscience), Walter Sinnott-Armstrong (Philosophy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics), and Stephen Vaisey (Sociology). Lab members include:


Aaron Ancell

Aaron Ancell is a PhD student in philosophy. His interests are primarily in ethics very broadly construed, especially in political philosophy, metaethics, and moral psychology. He is in the initial stages of his dissertation research, which is focused on questions about political disagreement. He hopes that by bringing together elements from several different (and thus far largely disconnected) literatures on the topic of disagreement, including those in psychology, epistemology, political philosophy and metaethics, he will be able to contribute to a more complete and empirically informed understanding of political conflict.

Jana Schaich Borg

Jana Schaich Borg is a Postdoctoral Associate in the Laboratory for Psychiatric Neuroengineering in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Duke University and in MADLAB at the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. She received her Ph.D in neuroscience from Stanford University and her BA in the philosophy of neuroscience from Dartmouth College. She works with both human and animal participants to study how and why we make social decisions, including moral decisions.

Rebecca Brenner

Rebecca Brenner is a junior pursuing a B.S. in Neuroscience, a B.A. in Philosophy, and a minor in Chemistry. She is interested in medical ethics and the neural circuits involved in moral reasoning. As part of a Bass Connections team that studies moral judgments by and about stimulant users, Rebecca focuses on how long term Adderall use, beginning in childhood, affects risk-taking behavior in both zebra fish and humans. Her honors thesis will use this research to examine the ethics of making medical decisions on behalf of children.

Lauren Bunch

Lauren Bunch is a graduate student in philosophy. Within the MADLab, she is primarily interested in philosophical and empirical investigations of character and the moral virtues. She has additional interests at the intersection of ethics and philosophy of mind and is especially interested in normative questions related to collective memory.

Daryl Cameron

Daryl Cameron earned his BA in psychology and philosophy from the College of William and Mary, and his Ph.D in social psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Daryl was previously a Post-doctoral Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics and is currently appointed as Visiting Assistant Professor at the Stanford University Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education (CCARE). His first line of research focuses on causes and consequences of compassion. This research also examines the consequences of compassion regulation for moral identity and moral behavior. His second line of research applies constructionist models of emotion to human morality: for instance, he has found that people who have highly differentiated emotion concepts can prevent incidental affect from shaping their moral judgments. His final line of research uses process dissociation to decompose the role of automatic and controlled processes in moral judgment among student and clinical populations. His research has been funded by the National Science Foundation.

Beatrice Capestany

Beatrice Capestany

Beatrice Capestany is a PhD student in Psychology and Neuroscience, in the social psychology program. Her interests involve motivated social cognition and justice. She hopes to understand how the relation between person, group, and system related cognitions affect laws and policy. As a social psychologist, she believes that, “social life is moral life and moral concerns pervade social conduct…” (as B. Weiner wisely stated).


Vlad Chituc

Vlad Chituc is Research Associate in the Center for Advanced Hindsight in the Social Science Research Institute, where he works with Dan Ariely and Nina Strohminger. He received a B.S. in Psychology from Yale University, and his research interests broadly encompass moral decision-making. He is specifically interested in charitable behavior, disgust, and the psychology of deontological and consequentialist thinking.

Clara Colombatto

Clara Colombatto

Clara Colombatto is a senior pursuing a double major in Neuroscience and Philosophy. Before joining MADLab as a lab manager, she worked in Dr. Mitroff’s Visual Cognition Lab researching the influence of cognitive loads on multimedia multitasking behavior. Clara is now working on a double honors thesis with Walter Sinnott-Armstrong and Scott Huettel, investigating the relationship between pattern recognition and intentions ascription in legal and moral decision-making.


Philip Costanzo

Philip Costanzo is Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience and Senior Fellow at the Kenan Institute for Ethics. His research interests include the development of children’s ideas and beliefs about the social environment (including an interest in the underlying socialization processes that mediate the development of moral emotions, moral cognition and susceptibility to peer pressures); the relationships between values, motivations and depressive states in both adolescents and adults; psychological and social concomitants of obesity and eating disorders; and prevention research on adolescent and adult problems of alcohol and drug abuse.


Alexandra DeForge

Alexandra DeForge is a first-year PhD student in philosophy. Her broad area of interest is ethics, with a current focus in political philosophy, philosophy of law and philosophy of punishment.


Dustin Hadfield

Dustin Hadfield is a sophomore undergraduate student at Duke University pursuing a double major in Public Policy and Psychology, along with a minor in Education. His research interests include the effects stimulants have on moral decision making, as well as the impacts of social stigmas and governmental policy on stimulant usage. Dustin is also avidly involved with Duke’s Center for Sexual and Gender Diversity, the Duke Center for Leadership Development and Social Action, Duke Student Government, and the Duke Chorale.
Ellie Hanna

Ellie Hanna

Ellie Hanna is a PhD student in Psychology and Neuroscience. She double-majored in Psychology and Anthropology at UNC Chapel Hill, and worked afterwards with children and adults with developmental disorders, in the context of both direct care and clinical neuroscience research. She is broadly interested in the cognitive neuroscience of social emotions, and her research program encompasses questions about basic affective science as well as about the interaction of emotion with other cognitive-affective processes, such as moral judgment and emotion regulation (particularly in the context of psychiatric disease). She enjoys hanging out with lemurs.

Joey Heffner

Joey Heffner

Joey Heffner is a Project Manager in the Kenan Institute for Ethics where he works with Walter Sinnott-Armstrong. He received a B.S. in Psychology and a B.A. in Philosophy at UNC Chapel Hill where he developed an interest in moral philosophy working under Keith Payne and Daryl Cameron. He is currently working on a project funded by a Duke Incubator Award to develop a variety of tests designed to measure implicit moral attitudes.


Paul Henne

Paul Henne is a PhD student in philosophy at Duke University. Before attending Duke, he received his MA from Arizona State University and his BA from Lake Forest College. His primary interests in philosophy are in experimental metaphysics and in moral philosophy and psychology, particularly absences, omissions, and nothingness. He is, for instance, curious about the gap between our causal judgments about omissions and their relation to the world.


Hyo-eun Kim

Hyo-eun Kim is a research professor at Inje University in Korea. She received her MA at PNP program at Washington University, and her Ph.D. at Ewha University in Korea. Her main interests are consciousness, emotion, and pain. As part of the Joint research program funded by the National Research Foundation of Korea, she is conducting a cross-cultural study on the philosophical intuitions of the relation between pain and moral judgments.


Kristie Kim

Kristie Kim is a senior pursuing a major in Neuroscience. She is very interested in research on neural pathways for moral decision-making.  Currently, her research project with Walter Sinnott-Armstrong focuses on social conformity and humility in moral judgment among stimulant users.

Vijeth Iyengar

Vijeth Iyengar is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience. He is interested in using functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) to study the neural mechanisms support successful memory in younger and older adults. Complementing this is his interest in examining the neural correlates underlying evaluations of moral violations corresponding to the moral foundations theoretical framework. Lastly, he is interested in examining how these neural correlates may differ as a function of political ideology.


Victoria Lee

Victoria Lee is a social psychology graduate student in Psychology & Neuroscience. She is interested in how decisions are influenced by the presence or absence of another person, the psychological processes that make something uniquely social, and the neural mechanisms that differentiate social from nonsocial decision-making. She utilizes social psychological theory to guide her research examining how social cognition and person perception affect economic decisions.

Ed Levin

Ed Levin is a Professor of Psychiatry & Behavioral Sciences, School of Medicine for the Duke Institute for Brain Sciences (DIBS).  He conducts research concerning the neurobehavioral bases of cognitive, emotional and addictive function in rat, mouse and zebrafish models. The basic focus of his research is to understand the functional interactions of cholinergic systems with brain stem monoaminergic projections to the limbic system, cortex and thalamus, with recent forays into analysis of GABA/glutamate interactions as well.
Christine Lillie
Christine Lillie is a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Psychology & Neuroscience. Her research projects include her MADLAB project on Intellectual Humility and Legal Biases with Lasana Harris and Phil Costanzo, a study of Propaganda, Psychology, and the International Law of Incitement to Commit Genocide, and soon will also include work on Neurological Correlates of Dehumanization in Police Officers’ Decision to Shoot.

Lauren Miranda

Lauren Miranda is a junior majoring in Psychology with two minors in Neuroscience and Philosophy. Her research interests include but of course aren’t limited to personality, self-perception, influence, and moral/social behaviors. She is a varsity rower who enjoys music, reading, and as an upstate New York native, winter sports.


Joseph Nelson

Joseph Nelson is Ph.D student in philosophy, interested in moral intuition and the links between moral reasoning and emotion.


Lawrence Ngo

Lawrence Ngo is currently an MD/Ph.D student who is interested in the neural mechanisms of social interactions in the context of morality, and how understanding these mechanisms can inform how researchers approach the diagnosis and treatment of mental disorders.


Anthony Oliveri

Anthony Oliveri is a PhD student in the Pharmacology graduate program in the Department of Pharmacology and Cancer Biology, as well as the Integrated Toxicology and Environmental Health Program in the Nicholas School of the Environment.  He received his B.A. in Biology and Neuroscience from Grinnell College. His primary research interests concern neurobehavioral teratology, wherein he utilizes the zebrafish animal model to examine whether early-life or developmental exposures to pharmaceuticals, drugs of abuse, and environmental contaminants impact an organism’s neural development in a way that alters behavior and cognition throughout the lifespan.

Keith Payne

Keith Payne is an associate professor of Psychology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. He has a Ph.D. in psychology from Washington University and a B.A. in psychology and philosophy from Western Kentucky University. He studies social cognition, especially automatic and unconscious thought. Payne’s research has won the International Social Cognition Network Early Career Award and the SAGE Young Scholars Award. His research has been covered in a variety popular outlets including Blink, Scientific American Mind, Ladies Home Journal, and National Public Radio. 

Dimitri Putilin

Dimitri Putilin is a Ph.D student in psychology and neuroscience. His primary interest is in exploring the human potential for exceptional mental health, well-being, and life satisfaction, focusing on personality and lifestyle characteristics which serve to promote it. He is also interested in the predictors of healthy psychosocial development throughout childhood and adolescence.
Tim Ryan

Tim Ryan

Tim Ryan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at UNC, Chapel Hill. He has a number of research interests related to public opinion and political psychology. Some draws on cross-disciplinary findings that highlight the distinctiveness of human moral psychology and examines the role it plays in politics. He has a number of papers that elaborate on these concepts more fully, a few being: Reconsidering Moral Issues in PoliticsNo Compromise: Political Consequences of Moralized Attitudes and Unthinkable! How Citizens with Moralized Attitudes Process Political Arguments.

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong

Walter Sinnott-Armstrong is the Chauncey Stillman Professor in Practical Ethics in the Department of Philosophy and the Kenan Institute for Ethics at Duke University. He has served as the co-director of the MacArthur Law and Neuroscience Project and co-investigator at the Oxford Centre for Neuroethics. He has worked on ethics (theoretical, applied, and empirical), philosophy of law, epistemology, philosophy of religion, and informal logic. He has received fellowships from the Harvard Program in Ethics and the Professions, the Princeton Center for Human Values, the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, the Center for Applied Philosophy and Public Ethics at the Australian National University, and the Sage Center for the Study of the Mind at the University of California, Santa Barbara. Sinnott-Armstrong earned his bachelor’s degree from Amherst College and his doctorate from Yale University. His current work is on moral psychology and brain science as well as the uses of neuroscience in legal systems.

Jesse Summers

Jesse Summers is a Post-Doctoral Fellow in Philosophy. His research agenda is focused on understanding irrationality and its moral implications. His dissertation was on the topic of addiction, specifically on how addictions should be distinguished from ordinary appetites, habits, and passions. His current research projects are on anxiety, especially whether anxious reasoning is like moral reasoning, on when being in conflict with ourselves is better than being wholehearted, why compulsions are intractably impossible to explain, and what role rationalization plays in our moral lives. With Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, he is working on an extended project on Scrupulosity, a religious or morality-focused form of OCD.
Peter Ubel

Peter Ubel

Peter Ubel is the Madge and Dennis T. McLawhorn University Professor of Business, Public Policy and Medicine at Duke University. His research explores controversial issues about the role of values and preferences in health care decision making, from decisions at the bedside to policy decisions. He uses the tools of decision psychology and behavioral economics to explore topics like informed consent, shared decision making and health care cost containment.

Elizabeth Victor

Elizabeth Victor is a Ph.D student in the clinical psychology program. Her primary research focus is adolescent and young adult sexual risk behavior. She has two lines of research interests: the role of physiological arousal in young adult risky sexual decision-making and the role of moral identity as a potential self-regulation process for preventing health risk behavior. She has conducted both online surveys and experimental (lab) studies using physiological measures. She hopes to eventually move her experimental paradigm into the fMRI scanner to determine individual differences in amygdala and prefrontal cortex functioning in predicting and understanding sexual risk behavior. Her primary research mentors in the psychology department are Dr. Robert Thompson and Dr. Ahmad Hariri. She also works with Dr. Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Dr. Phil Costanzo, and Dr. Steve Vaisey on projects pertaining to adolescent and young adult sexual risk behavior, moral identity, and moral worldviews.