Lab Members

Lab Director, Dr. Lara Aknin

Hello! I’m Lara Aknin, an associate professor of Social Psychology at Simon Fraser University and former fellow at the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research. My research interests lie at the intersection of social psychology, positive psychology, economics and judgement and decision making. My research questions often include the study of what makes people happy, the emotional consequences of kind or generous behavior, and the well-being outcomes of specific spending choices. Most of the research I have conducted thus far examines people’s perceptions of the money and happiness relationship and whether people reap greater happiness from spending money on others (i.e. prosocial spending) than when spending the same amount of money on themselves.

Lab Manager, Emily Thornton

Hi! My name is Emily, I am currently completing my B.A. (Hons) in Psychology. My honours thesis involved assessing the validity of a novel measure of implicit prosocial orientation. Additionally, I am the lab coordinator for the Helping and Happiness Lab, directed by Dr. Lara Aknin. In the future, I hope to complete a graduate program in clinical psychology. My research interests include developmental psychopathology, attachment, and prosociality.

Paper I published with Lara: Thornton, E. M., Aknin, L. B., Branscombe, N. R., Helliwell, J. F. (2019) Prosocial perceptions of taxation predict support for taxes. PLoS ONE 14(11): e0225730. https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0225730

Graduate Student, Tiara Cash

Hi! My name is Tiara Cash. I am an incoming graduate student at SFU where I plan to work with Dr. Aknin on intersections of transitions, pro-social behaviors, and well-being outcomes. I hold a Master’s Degree (M.S.) from Western Illinois University where I studied Sport Psychology. There, my research focused on student-athlete retirement and the psychosocial factors related to the quality of well-being post-play. Previously, I earned a B.S. at Arizona State University in Exercise and Wellness. In addition to being a graduate student and researching in the lab, I own an organization focused on mindfulness, meta-awareness, and meaning where I conduct presentations, workshops, and consultations through an emerging framework: Equitable Mindfulness. My career interests include working with underrepresented and underserved populations, resilience training, and research on life transitions.

Alyssa Greco

Hi, my name is Alyssa Greco. I’m a third year student attending Simon Fraser University, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Counselling and Human Development. In addition to being a research assistant in the Helping and Happiness Lab, I also volunteer in the UBC Women's Sexual Health Lab. My future education goals include attending graduate school to further my education in the field of Psychology.

Angie Fan

Hello! My name is Angie Fan, I am a volunteer research assistant in the Helping and Happiness Lab at Simon Fraser University. I am a third year student majoring in Psychology. I hope to work in the field of sport psychology in the future as a mental performance consultant. I currently work as a figure skating coach, combining my passions for psychology, teaching, and sport.

Armaghan Aliabadi

Hi! My name is Armaghan Aliabadi and I have been a volunteer research assistant at Simon Fraser University’s Helping and Happiness lab for the past two and a half years. I finished my bachelor of Psychology in 2016 and currently I am pursuing a degree in Gender, Sexuality, and Women Studies. In the next two years, I hope to complete my LSAT and apply for law school.

Jason Roh

Hi! My name is Jason Roh and I have been a Research Assistant at Simon Fraser University's very own Helping and Happiness Lab for the past two years under the supervision of Lara Aknin. This amazing research lab has allowed me to converge my passion for helping others and excitement for learning through conducting experimental research and data collection. As a fresh Psychology graduate, I plan to pursue my Masters Degree in Occupational Therapy in the near future. I highly encourage you to apply to this research lab as it will provide immense benefit to your future academic pursuits, provide a sense of community, and prove to be an unforgettable experience during your SFU undergraduate career.

Graduate Student, Jason Proulx

Hello! My name is Jason Proux. I am a Master’s student working with Dr. Aknin at SFU where I investigate how various interpersonal factors influence charitable behaviours and the downstream emotional consequences of giving. I completed my B.A. (Hons.) at the University of British Columbia on the social and emotional consequences of using smartphone technology; I am currently involved in several ongoing projects at UBC investigating the motivational role of shame in promoting self-change behaviours in clinical and non-clinical samples as well as the role individual differences play in impacting researchers’ statistical analyses. Additionally, I conduct research for a local charitable foundation, CHIMP (Charitable Impact) alongside an interdisciplinary team of researchers from Harvard Business School, UBC, and the University of the Fraser Valley. At CHIMP, I am investigating the longitudinal, causal impact of CHIMP’s community-based charitable education programs on students’ and youth athletes’ generosity, character development, and happiness. Beyond my current projects, I am generally interested in the role that technology and various social factors play in developing, enhancing, or hindering prosocial behaviours and emotional well-being. Relatedly, I am interested in using psychological science to inform the design and evaluation of interventions aimed at promoting prosocial behaviour or enhancing emotional well-being for people of all ages.

Angela Starnaman

Hi! My name is Angela Starnaman and I am a volunteer research assistant in Dr. Lara Aknin's lab. I am currently completing my B.A. in Psychology, with a minor in Counselling and Human Development. After I graduate, I intend to do a year of travelling and then potentially go to school to become an art therapist. Some fun facts about me: I am currently working as a pharmacy assistant; my favourite hike ever was Garibaldi Lake because I got to hold a chipmunk; and I have numerous vivid (and verified) memories from before the age of four.

Cassidy Ouldtata-Allan

Hello, my name is Cassidy Ouldtata-Allan. I am a volunteer research assistant at Simon Fraser University’s Psychological Foundations lab and Helping and Happiness lab. I am a fourth year student pursuing a Psychology major and a Counselling and Human Development minor. In the future, I am hoping to complete a PhD in Clinical Psychology.

Burdett Kwon

Hello, my name is Burdett Kwon and I am completing my last semester for my BA in Psychology. I am currently a research assistant for the Helping and Happiness Lab and the Relationship and Wellbeing Lab. In the future, I am hoping to complete a graduate program in experimental psychology. My research interests include developmental psychology, cultural psychology, and abnormal psychology.

Connor MacMillan

My name is Connor MacMillan. I am a fourth year undergraduate student majoring in psychology, with an interest in Social Psychology, and minoring in Sociology. I am a project manager and research assistant in Dr. Lara Aknin’s Helping and Happiness Lab at Simon Fraser University. I hope to pursue both a masters in the fall of 2020 and subsequently a PhD in sociology.

Nava Ashley Kasiri

My name is Nava Ashley Kasiri. I am a volunteer Research Assistant at Simon Fraser University’s Helping and Happiness Lab. Currently, I am a Project Manager for one of the graduate level studies taking place in the lab, as well as a Directed Studies student with Dr. Aknin. I am finishing up my Bachelors of Art in Psychology, with a minor in Counselling and Human Development. In the future I would love be a counsellor, exploring the quality of life, productivity, and happiness in young adults.