The lab's PLEEPle
Lab Founder: Robert Kurzban
Lab Co-Directors: Robert Kurzban & Coren Apicella
Senior Researchers: Roger Koppl, Sheen Levine, & Jason Weeden
Current Graduate Students: Fatima Aboul-Seoud, Kristopher Smith, & Megan Williams

Interested in PLEEP? Click on the "Working at PLEEP" link, at the top of the page.

Robert Kurzban, Professor, Dept. of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania

             For additional information, see this page

Coren Apicella, Assitant Professor, Dept. of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania

Coren Apicella is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. She studies both hunter-gatherers and Westerners to explore the proximate and evolutionary origins of behavior. Her work specializes in mate selection and attraction, behavioral endocrinology, behavior genetics, sex  differences, behavioral        economics, and social networks and the evolution of cooperation. 
Fatima Aboul-Seoud, Graduate Student, Dept. of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania

Fatima Aboul-Seoud has a BA in Psychology from SUNY Albany. She plans to pursue a PhD in evolutionary psychology. Currently, she is working on projects concerning the moralization of sexual acts and the alliance hypothesis of human friendship, and is interested in attempting to use the study of emotion to better understand the modularity of the brain.
Kristopher Smith, Graduate Student, Dept. of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania

Kristopher Smith studies social cognition and decision-making with an emphasis on evolutionary function. He focuses on moral condemnation: Why do people judge others’ actions to be wrong and deserving of punishment? His work not only draws from evolutionary theory, but criminal law as well. Example topics include why are attempted violations punished less than completed ones and does moral condemnation have features that make effective at deterring. Other interests include cooperation, hormones and economic preferences, and role of emotions in decision-making.
Megan Williams, Graduate Student, Dept. of Psychology, University of Pennsylvania

Megan Williams received her BS in Evolutionary Anthropology and her BA in Psychology at Rutgers University prior to joining the PLEEP lab in 2015 as a PhD student. She is interested in human behavioral endocrinology, olfaction, mate selection, mate guarding and aggression. Her work with Dr. Apicella concentrates on male behavioral, perceptual and hormonal shifts in the presence of ovulatory secretions.
Roger Koppl, Professor of Finance, FDU

Contact Information: phone: (973) 443-884; fax:(973) 443-8377

Roger Koppl is the Director of the Institute for Forensic Science Administration (IFSA) of Fairleigh Dickinson University, where he is also a Professor of Economics and Finance. He has served on the faculty of the Copenhagen Business School, Auburn University, and Auburn University at Montgomery. He has held visiting positions at George Mason University, New York University, and the Max Planck Institute of Economics. He is a past president of the Society for the Development of Austrian Economics.  He edits Advances in Austrian Economics. He is the book review editor for the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization and a member of the advisory board of Review of Political Economy. Koppl conducts research in forensic science administration, which studies how error rates in forensic science may be affected by institutional and organizational structures. His homepage and online CV have more information on his professional activities.

Sheen Levine, Singapore Management University

          Contact Information:

Trained at The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, Dr. Sheen S. Levine is a professor at Singapore Management University and a senior researcher at The University of Pennsylvania. He also held visiting positions at Emory University,Copenhagen Business School in Denmark, and the University of Torino in Italy. Interested in the connections between disciplines, he acquired academic degrees in Management Science and Applied Economics, Sociology and Anthropology. Dr. Levine is a winner the Organization Science VIP Award, US Dept. of Education CIBER Fellowship, and The Bentley College/HEC Paper Award from the Academy of Management.

Jason Weeden, Fulbright & Jaworski LLP

Dr. Weeden received his PhD in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania after receiving a JD from the University of Texas School of Law.  His research relates to mating and fertility choices, and how differences in competing reproductive lifestyles lead to differences in religiosity and in opinions on “family values” political issues like abortion and marijuana legalization.

Whatever Happened to...? (Recent Lab Alumni)

Molly Elson, Undergraduate Student, School of Arts and Sciences, University of Pennsylvania

Molly Elson studies Psychology with minors in Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies and Science, Technology, and Society. She is interested in the evolution of morality as well as female intrasexual conflict and cooperation.

Jaimie Krems, Arizona State University

Jaimie Krems is now a graduate student at Arizona State University. She studied archaeology, three assorted and less than practically useful minors and psychology at Bryn Mawr College. After a chain of what could only be termed fated events, she found evolutionary psychology and was enamored with the way the field could explain all sorts of behaviors. From then on -- through a master's at Penn, writing about music for Spin and traveling to just about anywhere she could find someone to go with her -- she could be found with an evolutionary psychology book or article on one hand and a pen in the other, and that's just for fun. Which is why she can tell you this: The first documented appearance of the word "nerd" comes from a book by Dr. Seuss.

Hugo Mercier, L2C2

Hugo is now a CNRS researcher at the L2C2. After completing a PhD in the Institut Jean Nicod, under the supervision of Dan Sperber, Hugo joined the Philosophy, Politics and Economics Program at the University of Pennsylvania as a postdoc. Next, he went on to complete a postdoc at the University of NeuchâtelEven though he has mostly worked in philosophy labs, he's a cognitive psychologist by training. His work focuses on developing an evolutionary account of reasoning according to which reasoning evolved for social, argumentative purposes. Main hobbies: playing squash and buying too many books.

Ewa Szymanska, SingTel

Ewa Szymanska studied psychology and romance languages at the Central Washington University, WA. She then worked as a reporter and a translator at the press center in Poland, and then a graduate student in psychology at the University of Pennsylvania studying decision processes. She is currently a Behavioral Analytics Manager at SingTel. She is interested in the interplay between reasoning and moral intuitions in individual decision making and political judgment. In her research she builds on the experimental studies of decision making in the hypothetical situations, following a tradition of evaluating decisions against the normative standards of coherence and utility maximization, while, at the same time, drawing on evolutionary theory to generate hypothesis regarding her research questions.


John Christner, Washington University

John is interested in evolutionary psychology as an approach to understanding the mind and behavior. How is the mind designed to generate behaviors that would have solved adaptive problems in an ancestral environment? While this approach can be applied to any domain, John finds religion, sexuality/mating, and morality particularly fascinating. Currently John is working on projects concerning male choosiness in short term mating contexts, environmental cues that humans track to determine ownership and property rights, evolutionary explanations for supernatural beliefs and religion, and morality as a system to avoid third party punishment. 

Danny Fein, Litographs

Danny Fein is currently living in Boston and runs a firm named Litographs, which prints entire books on portraits, t-shirts, and tote bags.

Christine Stanik, Penn State University

Christine is a post-doctoral researcher in the Human Development and Family Studies program at Penn State University. Her interests lie broadly in the area of romantic relationships and include: sexual satisfaction and relationship stability, gender role dynamics in married and dating couples, within sex variation in romantic partner preferences, cues people use when assessing potential romantic partners, and dynamics in the formation of long-term committed partnerships.

Athena Aktipis, Arizona State University

                             Athena Aktipis is an Assistant Professor at Arizona State University in the Department of Psychology and co-Director of The Human Generosity Project. She                                     studies cooperation across systems from human sharing to cancer.


 Peter DeScioli, Stony Brook University

Peter DeScioli is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Political Science at Stony Brook University. His research aims to understand how the human mind uses principles of strategy to solve problems in the social world. Much of his work focuses on moral condemnation, especially the functions of third party judgment, moralistic punishment, and moral impartiality. Another research program examines the functions of friendship by looking at how people distribute loyalties across close friends (friend ranking) and how people try to obscure their loyalties (rank masking). He has also been investigating the psychological foundations of property and ownership by using a virtual environment to observe resource disputes in the laboratory.

Alex Shaw, Chicago Booth

Alex Shaw recently completed his PhD at Yale, in the Dept. of Psychology. He is now a postdoctoral fellow at Chicago Booth. Broadly he is interested in how human beings navigate the complex social world by tracking each others' reputations and by signaling to others. More specifically, he studies the development of fairness in children. His fairness research is focused on differentiating fairness from other forms of niceness, exploring the reputational motives that may underlie fairness, and how fairness may relate to our alliance psychology. He also researches intellectual property in children and is investigating  whether part of our concern with people stealing ideas is based in not liking others garnering a false reputational advantage. He is also interested in the computations people perform to decide how and when to fight over resources, track others' reputations, and learn to properly discount others' self-promotional strategies. 

 Kelly Asao, University of Texas

Kelly entered the BussLab in the fall of 2011 after completing her B.A. with distinction in psychology from The University of Pennsylvania. She became fascinated with the field of Evolutionary Psychology under the tutelage of Dr. Robert Kurzban. While at Penn, Kelly’s research focused on mate choice copying and moral decision-making. Currently, she is interested in mate choice, flirting, friendship and morality from an evolutionary perspective. She is particularly fascinated by how status and reputation influence human decision-making.

   Kendall Hoechst is at large.
   Skye Gilbert is a Program Officer on the Vaccine Delivery team in the Gates Foundation’s Global Development Program.

Craig Bergman graduated with Honors from the Department of Psychology. His thesis investigated the link between leadership and moralistic punishment.

Jessamyn Haupt was an invaluable source of energy and ideas for two years in the PLEEP lab, and has now gone on to advanced study.

Amy Starosta graduated in 2007, and worked on a project on flirting; she published a paper in the undergraduate journal, Perspectives in Psychology. She is currently pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology at SUNY Albany at the Habits and Lifestyles Laboratory.

Marc Egeth was the first graduate student to complete his PhD in the PLEEP lab under the supervision of Dr. Kurzban. Marc won a highly prestigious APA Dissertation Award. His disseration was entitled "Representing Metarepresentations: Is there a Theory of Mind Module?" Dr. Egeth finished in the Spring of 2007.

Alex Chavez worked in the PLEEP lab as an undergraduate, and still collaborates with people in the lab, and received his PhD from the Department of Psychology at the University of Michigan. He is currently a Senior Data Scientist at SOCURE.

Erin O'Brien, who won a Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowship Naussau award, worked in the PLEEP lab, and worked on experiments surrounding "third party punishment."

Amelia Fong did some research in the PLEEP lab that focused on how a male's method of resource acquisiton influences a woman's desirability for him. Amelia graduated in 2006.

Danielle Trief, who won a Center for Undergraduate Research and Fellowship Thouron award, worked in the PLEEP lab, and went on to study at Oxford.

Diana Zarzuelo won the John P. Sabini Undergraduate Award for the Study of Emotion, Character, and Responsibility for her work. She was the first recipient of this prize, which will be awarded annually in memory of John Sabini. Diana, who graduated in 2006, did research that focused on the reputational effects of engaging in moralistic punishment.

Erik Malmgren-Samuel worked at PLEEP and is now at large.

Are you a PLEEP alum and want to be listed on our page? Just let us know.