Lab members

Lab director

Sam and Mozzi

Samuel Johnson

Sam is the Director of the DICE Lab. After his PhD from Yale and post-doctoral training at University College London, Sam worked at Bath and Warwick Universities in the UK before his appointment as Assistant Professor of Psychology at Waterloo. Sam is interested in issues at the nexus of psychology, economics, and philosophy and eager to explore methods and ideas from all of these disciplines.

Outside (and sometimes inside) the lab, Sam enjoys classical music, science fiction novels, and tabletop games.

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Mozzi is the Chief Mascot of the DICE Lab. Hailing from British Columbia, Mozzi’s research is broadly situated around the detection and (aspirationally) the destruction of small- and medium-sized land mammals. After his doctoral work on squirrels, Mozzi relocated to southern Ontario where his interests have become increasingly eclectic; after an unsuccessful but instructive experiment with skunks, he has turned his attention to raccoons, rabbits, and cats.

In his spare time, Mozzi enjoys belly rubs, treat-tasting, and listening to music, particularly 19th century chamber music and early-21st century pop (Schubert and Spears, respectively, being favorites).

Graduate students

Aaron Shine

Aaron Shine

Aaron is currently pursuing a PhD in consumer judgment and decision-making at the University of Bath.  He is interested in the concept of altruism; specifically, the motivations behind helping others, but also its effect on observer judgements. His current research focuses on the ways in which companies support social causes, and how that impacts consumers’ choices.

Being from the UK, he is a big football fan, and he also loves playing snooker – it’s like pool but much more frustrating!

Dogukan Demiriciogulu


Dogukan is a Ph.D. student in Cognitive Psychology. His background also includes cognitive science and philosophy. His research centers around emotions, motivated reasoning, and decision-making, with a specific focus on understanding the psychological mechanisms behind people’s economic preferences. Recently, he has been exploring how people’s intuitive theories of emotion and cognition impact their risky and intertemporal choices.

When Dogukan is not researching, he finds joy in swimming, running, and doing yoga. 

Jordan Sheen

Jordan Sheen

Jordan is a first-year graduate student in cognitive psychology. They are primarily interested in how the psychology of markets, meaning, and decision-making interact with cognition, personality, and evolutionary psychology.

Outside the lab, Jordan is obsessed with competitive games, whether it be board games, mind games, or just plain game theory.

Kristina Wu

Kristina Wu

Kristina is a second-year graduate student in cognitive psychology. Her work focuses on task prioritization strategies, examining the heuristics people use to select tasks from a larger task list. Beyond this, she is also interested in how people value their attention within the scope of the current attention economy.

In her free time, Kristina likes to run, climb, and crochet.

Neil Wegenschimmel

Neil Wegenschimmel <>

Neil is a second-year graduate student with a background in sociology. He is broadly interested in cultural and social change, political psychology, personality, meaning and belief in different contexts (religion, extremism, polarization, and nihilism), media and information consumption, and the effect of digital social life on what we see as being real or true. He is currently researching how perceptions of societal extremism might influence social norms.

Outside of psychology, Neil reads and writes widely while maintaining a life-long love of music-making, vinyl records, literature, travel, and history. 


Lab managers

Adrienne Richter Powell


Adrienne is a 4th year student in Honours Psychology with a research-intensive specialization. Currently, she is working as the lab manager for the DICE lab and helping out on research papers. She spends most of her days managing the lab's schedule, making sure things flow right, and working on research with other lab members.

When not working in the DICE lab you can find Adrienne creating new creations in the kitchen or at the pool.

Jai V. Gulati


Jai is a third-year undergraduate psychology major with a research-intensive specialization. He's actively involved in the development of the lab website, aids Adrienne in administrative tasks, contributes to paper appendices, and has also conducted a couple of literature reviews on topics related to the attention economy.

Fun Fact: He has shifted around 9 times between 3 countries so far! He's also very interested in cooking and learning about new cuisines!

Honour thesis students

Baanshi Thaker


Baanshi is a psychology student in her fourth year, currently working on an undergraduate research project. The project aims to investigate the bounded rationality that underlies procrastination.

Fun Fact: Baanshi has a "Movie Bucket List" with all the films she wants to watch before she graduates, and she's ticking them off one by one.

Brandon Lam

Brandon Lam

Brandon is a thesis student for the fall and winter term, he was also a volunteer undergraduate RA working under Kristina Wu.

Fun fact: Brandon worked on the animation for Waterloo’s steel bridge team which received third place nationally and fourth place overall honours at the Canadian National Steel Bridge Competition

Research assistants

Laviessha Puviraj


Laviessha is currently in her third year of completing a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a Human Resources Management Minor. As an undergraduate research assistant at DICE Lab, she has been working alongside Kristina and looking into task management. She has been working on a literature review on this topic and is really excited to see what the lab will uncover! 

Fun Fact: Laviessha loves travelling to new places and she has been to 11 different countries so far!

Leah Kim

Leah Kim

Leah is an undergraduate student at the University of Waterloo, majoring in BSc Psychology. Her main interest is in Criminal Psychology, in which she is curious about how developmental factors affect one's behaviour or mental state in the future, and how they affect the conscious or subconscious decisions people ultimately make. Currently, she works as a Research Assistant at the DICE Lab, helping with coding simulations that the participants will interact with.

A fun fact about Leah is that she enjoys listening to music and gaming in her free time!


Ariel Burbano


Ariel is an Honours thesis student in the lab. Her research looks at charitable transactions and the moral reputations of donors and charitable organizations. She is a psychology major and biology minor student in my last year at UWaterloo.

One fun fact about Ariel is that she likes to paint by numbers.

Prarthana Sembakutti

Prathana Sembakutti

Prarthana is working towards a BSc in Honours Psychology with a minor in Biology. She is currently completing an undergraduate honours thesis under the supervision of Dr. Sam Johnson where she is exploring how prosocial behaviour is perceived. She has a strong interest in both cognitive and I/O Psychology. When she’s not in the lab, Prarthana can be found reading a good book or spending time with friends and family.

A fun fact about Prarthana is that she loves watching movies on the big screen, she saw Top Gun: Maverick more than three times in theatres!

Zarema Khon

Zarema Khon

Zarema is a postdoctoral scholar at the Nazarbayev University Graduate School of Business, Kazakhstan. She obtained her Ph.D. in Marketing from the University of Bath, UK. Her research interests lie at the intersection of psychology and consumer behaviour. Currently, she is interested in how consumers form their beliefs and what effects these beliefs have on their behaviour (for instance, 'Why do many people think that profit-making companies do more harm than good?', 'What do consumers think about marketing persuasion tactics and what effects do these beliefs have on consumers' attitudes towards firms using these tactics?').

Fun fact: if Zarema wasn't a researcher, she would have been an SFX makeup artist!

External Collaborators

Chris Dawson


Chris's research is positioned in the general area of behavioural economics. he is particularly interested in how optimism, overconfidence and anticipatory emotions influence decision-making. His most recent work advocates being realistic as a route to better decision-making and happiness. 

Yvetta Simonyan

Yvetta Simonyan

Yvetta Simonyan is a Senior Lecturer/Associate Professor in Marketing at the University of Bath. She competed her PhD in Marketing at London Business School and MBA at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. Yvetta’s industrial experience includes working with pharmaceutical companies, healthcare organizations and US Department of Agriculture, and her research focuses on consumer judgement and decision making applied to branding, charitable giving and marketing ethics