Our Team

Principal Investigator

Laura Case PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Dept. of Anesthesiology at UC San Diego. She received her PhD in Psychology and Cognitive Science from UC San Diego in 2013 and completed a postdoctoral fellowship studying affective touch and pain with Dr. Catherine Bushnell at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH), NIH. Laura’s research uses brain imaging, noninvasive brain stimulation, and pharmacologic manipulation to test brain mechanisms involved in painful and pleasant touch perception in healthy individuals and individuals with chronic pain. Other research interests include psychological and neural mechanisms of mind-body therapies and placebo.


Benedetta Albinni

Benedetta, is a cognitive neuroscientist from the 'Vanvitelli University' in Caserta, Italy, where she earned a PhD in mind sciences. Her principal interests revolve around the behavioral physiology, unraveling the mysteries of physiological models, and deciphering their relation with behavioral manifestations. In her youthful days, she fearlessly tackled rugby on the field, but now, her pastimes have gracefully transitioned to the realm of movies and the captivating world of televised sports.

Research Coordinators

Marisa Zimmerman

Marisa is originally from Santa Clarita, California and obtained her B.S. in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience and a minor in Law and Society from UC San Diego. She is very interested in the neural mechanisms of neurological disorders and how they affect behavior and cognition. Marisa plans to pursue a PhD in Neuroscience in the future. In her free time, she likes to read, play music, and go to the beach.

Vincent Alasha

Vince comes to us from the East Coast, born and raised in Maryland. He obtained an A.A. in Psychology from Carroll Community College and a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Maryland. He has studied a range of topics including identity, social support, paranoia, and psychosis. Vince plans to pursue a PhD and is interested in working with novel technologies and methodologies in our lab to study the link between perception and sensation. In his free time, he enjoys fitness, music, and exploring San Diego.

Volunteer Research Assistants

Jacob Ross

Jacob Ross is a 4th year neurobiology undergraduate student at UCSD, currently finishing up his B.S. and beginning his M.S. through the BS/MS program. His research interests include  the investigation of non-pharmacological and alternative treatments for chronic pain and neuropsychiatric conditions including depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. When not working in either of two labs or in class, Jacob can be found striving to reach the top of the leaderboard in Peloton classes, making beer in his garage, or distributing harm reduction supplies in the local community through a student organization he co-founded at UCSD. 

Jeffery Lewis

Hailing from Albuquerque, New Mexico, Jeffery Lewis is an undergraduate student at UC San Diego and is currently obtaining his B.S. in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. He has diffuse interests in sensory neuroscience, cognitive disorders, and developmental neurobiology and behavior. After university, Jeffery plans to obtain an M.D. His other interests include reading, playing ultimate frisbee, fitness, and photography & graphic design.

Leyla Ozdoyuran

Leyla is originally from Istanbul, Turkey. She is an undergraduate student in the department of Psychology at UC San Diego. Currently she is studying clinical psychology and neuropsychology. Leyla is planning on going to graduate school for psychology and has a strong interest in mental illnesses and the neurobiological mechanisms behind them. In her free time, she likes to travel, read, and cook. 

Lillian Xia

Lilian comes from Beijing, China. She is a 3rd-year undergraduate student in the Department of Psychology at UC San Diego. She is studying clinical psychology and cognitive science with a specialization in neuroscience. She is passionate about learning neural mechanisms behind clinical disorders and decision-making. After university, she is planning to pursue graduate school in neurobiology and psychology. In her free time, she likes watching musicals, reading, playing badminton, and fitness. 

Collaborating Graduate Students

Michael Haupt

Michael is a PhD student in Cognitive Science at UCSD. He has a masters in Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences from Columbia University and a bachelors in Anthropology and Psychology from the University of Michigan. His research uses social network analysis and natural language processing to trace misinformation spread and emotional contagion across social media platforms. In our lab, Michael is interested in examining how emotional content of natural stimuli such as social media posts impact painful and pleasant touch perception. In his free time, he likes to explore different parts of San Diego, read in coffee shops, and try new sushi restaurants.

Alex Jinich-Diamant

Alex Jinich-Diamant is a PhD student in the departments of Cognitive Science and Anesthesiology at UC San Diego where he studies the neuroscience of mind-body approaches to pain and affect. His work combines insights from complex systems science with brain imaging. Alex holds an honors bachelors degree in Anthropology from Columbia University.

Previous Lab Members

Desiree Quintana

Desiree is a San Diego native who obtained her B.S. in Kinesiology from Cal State San Marcos. During her undergraduate career, she was always fascinated with the ways in which psychological measures could impact one's physiological state. She is a firm believer that your mental and emotional state have a direct influence on your physical being and is excited to explore similar concepts at UCSD. In her free time, she enjoys cooking, trying new restaurants, practicing yoga, and traveling.

Jennifer Baumgartner PhD

Dr. Jennifer (Jenny) N. Baumgartner hails from Chicago IL, where she earned her B.A. in Philosophy and Psychology from the University of Illinois at Chicago. She received her M.S. and Ph.D. in Social/Health Psychology from Wright State University in Dayton, Ohio, where she studied the cognitive, affective, and physiological mechanisms supporting stress resilience. She is a Health Scientist/America Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the NIH Office of Disease Prevention (ODP). There, she supports the ODP-led Prevention Scientific Interests Groups, as well as assists with the implementation, integration, and coordination of collaborative projects to translate NIH-funded prevention research into practice to address health equity. In her free time, she likes to cook, listen to loud music, and immerse herself in nature with her pup, Galileo.

Linda Leija

Linda is originally from the beautiful town of Manhattan Beach, CA. She graduated from University of San Diego, where she is majored in Behavioral Neuroscience. Linda aspires to develop new, more potent treatments for individuals suffering with neurological disorders. She is interested in conducting research related to the mind-body-brain connection, compassion, and pain. In her spare time, Linda enjoys running, hiking, and baking.

Previous Volunteers

Longyue Wang, Clinical Psychology and Molecular Biology

Minh-Tuyet Nguyen, Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience

Jenna Nhean, Clinical Psychology

Benjamin Goldstein, UCSD Medical Student