illustration: Your Brain on the Greater GoodThe annual Hornaday Graduate Fellowship offered by the Greater Good Science Center awards students $3,000-$10,000 to complete research related to social and emotional well-being. This year, five fellows from diverse academic backgrounds will carry out projects that focus on behaviors and feelings such as happiness and compassion.

  • Mara Chavez-Diaz, 5th year Ph.D. student in Education
  • Hooria Jazaieri, 2nd year Ph.D. student in Psychology
  • Jasmite Mote, 4th year Ph.D. student in Psychology
  • Josh Neff, 2nd year student in the UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program
  • Andrew Peckman, 4th year Ph.D. student in Psychology

Fellows are expected to complete research that reflects their interests. This year’s proposals range from studying healing processes for traumatized urban youth to implementing a structural competency curriculum for medical residents. For his project, Andrew Peckman is trying out a new intervention for people with bipolar disorder. “The goal is to test the benefits of teaching positive emotional skills like savoring, gratitude, and mindfulness.” His attraction to the fellowship reflects his decision to enroll at Berkeley: To learn from world-class researchers studying cognition, mental illnesses and emotions.

Fellows also have the opportunity to write for the center’s online magazine, Greater Good. Hooria Jazaieri publishes new research findings on the site in addition to working on her project, which examines whether compassion can improve relations towards members of stigmatized groups.

She plans on testing her hypothesis with a sample of adults by examining their interactions, studying their diary responses about exchanges with other groups, and holding a laboratory experiment to collect behavioral and physiological measurements of compassion. “I hope that the findings from this research will be of direct benefit to people on a very practical level and a step in the direction of understanding and reducing the self vs. other distinction,” Jazaieri says.

The Greater Good Science Center offers many programs and events for people interested in social-behavioral sciences. To learn more about the center and the Hornaday Graduate Fellowship, visit The Greater Good Science Center website.