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.

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

Minh-Tuyet Nguyen

Minh-Tuyet was born in Vietnam but has lived in California for the majority of her life. She currently is a senior attending UCSD, and is majoring in Cognitive Science Behavioral Neuroscience with a minor in Psychology. Currently she is studying clinical neuropsychology and neurobiology. Minh-Tuyet is planning on going to graduate school for psychology or cognitive science and in our lab, she is interested in how the brain processes pain and pleasure or lack thereof for some. In her free time, she enjoys reading novels, watching tv series and cooking new recipes.

Jenna Nhean

Jenna is a proud Long Beach native. She is currently a third-year student at UCSD where she studies Clinical Psychology. Jenna acknowledges mental health as a large public health concern and is interested in the development of effective prevention and treatment programs. In our lab, Jenna is also intrigued by research relating to social touch technology and its potential to reproduce the benefits of affective touch. In her spare time, Jenna loves to read, listen to music, and try out new coffee shops.

Affiliated 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 major