Lab Director

Rob Chavez, Ph.D.
Assistant Professor of Psychology
email | personal website | Google Scholar | CV | GitHub

Ph.D. Cognitive Neuroscience, 2015 – Dartmouth College
B.S. Psychology, 2008 – University of New Mexico

Rob Chavez joined the faculty at the University of Oregon as an Assistant Professor of Psychology in 2017. He is interested in how our brains build representations of our sense of self and the social environment and how we use these representations to guide our behavior in the real world. He is also interested in predictive modeling and computational methods for digital social science.


Postdoctoral Scholar

Alison Mattek, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Fellow
email | personal website | Google Scholar | CV

Emotion and motivation influence behavior: people tend to pursue activities that give them pleasure and avoid activities that cause them pain. I am interested in understanding how the brain learns and predicts this motivational value. The “self” is just one prominent aspect of our world that carries motivational value. The brain theoretically defaults to assigning a positive value to the self, and in turn, people are motivated to approach and learn about themselves (know thyself). However, if the brain assigns a negative value to the self, this in theory should motivate self-avoidance behavior, which is ultimately contradictory. How does the brain represent and resolve this contradiction when it arises, and how might this contradiction influence other important motivational processes?


Graduate Students

Taylor Guthrie
2nd Year Ph.D. Student in Social-Personality Psychology
email | personal website

One of the most remarkable qualities of human kind is our ability to navigate our immensely complex social environments. Our brain has evolved the capacity to build a rich model of the self which in turn has become an essential tool that we use to understand our social situations and our place in society. I wish to understand how this concept of self is built and how it is represented and encoded in the distributed networks of the brain.  I want to know how these distributed patterns of self change from individual to individual and how they differ across cultures. Through the use of various multimodal imaging methods and multivariate machine learning techniques, I hope to probe the depths of these various processes and uncover the structure that underlies their ultimate purpose and function.


Moriah Stendel
2nd Year Ph.D. Student in Clinical Psychology
email | Google Scholar | GitHub

Moriah Stendel has an interdisciplinary academic background, having received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology & Art History and a Master of Science in Psychiatry. Her interests lie in the vast possibilities of human phenomenological experiences and their complex relation to the brain. Accordingly, Moriah’s research has explored consciousness, culture, hypnosis, and selfhood. During her doctoral work, she plans to focus her research on the entwined relationship between self, brain, and psychopathology.

Research Staff

Dale Tovar
Lab Manager & Scientific Programmer
email | personal websiteGitHub

I am interested in how structure relates to function in the brain and how structural and functional networks mutually constrain one another. The pluripotency and degeneracy of brain networks render the relations between cognitive functions and neural structures as many-to-many. I aim to investigate these relations using predictive models on large fMRI and DTI datasets.


Angela O’Neil
Study Coordinator & Data Analyst

Angela brings a multidisciplinary background in performing arts, design, and human physiology. She is interested in studying how perceived similarities and differences moderate empathy, how personality relates to a stable or dynamic sense of self, how physical and mental health challenges affect personality, and how these individual differences are represented in the brain. She is currently working as project coordinator for the round robin study and on her honors thesis in the lab. She will soon pursue Ph.D. programs.


Research Assistants

Undergraduate research assistants are recruited on an ongoing basis. Please see our Diversity & Values page for more information about our commitments to and information about opportunities for BIPOC students and other underrepresented minorities. Given the multidisciplinary nature of our work, we welcome students from all fields of study including but not limited to Psychology, Computer & Information Science, Mathematics, and Biology. If you are interested in joining the lab as an RA, please email Dr. Chavez with inquires and specific information about your interests in joining us.


Youri Benadjaoud

Youri is a junior majoring in psychology and human physiology. Post-graduation, his dream is to attend medical school and work in public/global health. He would like to further aid those in impoverished communities, especially by building further infrastructure so that all humans may receive access to healthcare. Youri says that psychology helps him understand humans and manners in which to better the world.


Faith Collins

Faith currently holds a post-baccalaureate position to further develop familiarity in the skills used to evaluate the self-other distinction. She is interested in using multimodal imaging and computational methods to look at the dynamics and physiological differences in how our brains distinguish and represent the concept of self from other individuals. She plans on pursuing a PhD in the field of Social Cognitive Neuroscience, is often found in a coffee shop, and is obsessed with finding waterfalls.


Louis Kerner

Louis is a post baccalaureate student who is studying chemistry at the University of Oregon. He is a student veteran and his first degree is in Social Science from Western Oregon University. His primary goal is medical school specializing in primary care. His research interests include: self, meaning, decision making, and psychopathologies.


Ryan Conaghan

Ryan is a junior pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Psychology and a minor in Business Administration at the University of Oregon. He has a broad array of interests across the domain of psychology, focusing on the links between self-reflection, personality, and psychopathology. He is interested in further understanding the roots that underlie mental and behavioral disorders. In the future, he plans to attend graduate school in pursuit of a career in clinical psychology.



Elliot Berkman – University of Oregon
Kate Mills – University of Oregon
Carolyn Parkinson – UCLA
Michael Posner – University of Oregon
Dylan Wagner – The Ohio State University