Diversity. Collaboration. Engagement.
From left to right:
Diego Guevara Beltran
Athena Aktipis, Ph.D
Lab Director & Principal Investigator
Athena Aktipis is an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at Arizona State University, co-Director of the Human Generosity Project and Director of Human and Social Evolution and co-founder of the Center for Evolution and Cancer at the University of California, San Francisco. Dr. Aktipis completed her BA at Reed College (Psychology), her PhD at University of Pennsylvania (Psychology) and post-doctoral work at University of Arizona (Ecology and Evolutionary Biology). She is a cooperation theorist, theoretical evolutionary biologist, and cancer biologist who now works at the intersection of these fields. Dr. Aktipis is the author of the forthcoming book from Princeton University Press "Evolution in the flesh: Cancer and the transformation of life." Curriculum Vitae. For more information about Dr. Aktipis, please visit her website.
Jessica Ayers, M.A
Jessica obtained her bachelor’s degrees in psychology and anthropology and her master’s degree in experimental psychology from California State University, Fullerton. She is broadly interested in the behavioral manifestations of genetic conflict in humans. Currently, Jessica's research projects focus on documenting differences in friendship rules, understanding differences in cooperation and conflict with kin and affines, and explaining how maternal-fetal conflict during pregnancy can manifest as pregnancy complications. Learn more about Jessica by visiting her website.
Diego Guevara Beltran, M.A
Diego received his bachelor’s degrees in psychology and evolutionary anthropology from the University of New Mexico, and his master's degree in social psychology from Arizona State University. His work focuses on how and why people feel empathy for each other and how sources from the environment such as the availability of resources and predictability of challenges influence people's willingness or ability to mirror other’s emotions. He also works on how feeling empathy sometimes increases our motivation to help others; and at other times, hinders our motivation to do so. His research also looks for environmental and social sources of prosociality more broadly. Learn more about Diego by visiting his website.
Steffi Kapsetaki, Ph.D
I’m Steffi. People also call me Stephanie, or Stefania, as written in my passport. This is how I go through life, by changing identity and crossing barriers. I’m a (r)evolutionary scientist, classical music performer, and…
...a twin. I have a lifetime companion, but also... a food-absorbing friend! Coming out lighter than my sister was not easy! This may have triggered my interest in conflict and cooperation across life. Through my education at Oxford, I mastered the fields of social evolution and the evolution of multicellularity. Inside my multicellular body, I see identical cells sometimes fighting foreign cells for food. When foreign cells live with me forever, I’m called a chimera. Did I mention that I might be in my twin?! When they divide faster than other cells, they may possibly become cancer. As a Postdoctoral Researcher at Arizona State University, I’m testing this possibility in every creature on our planet. Learn more about Steffi on her website.
Angelo Fortunato, Ph.D
Assistant Research Professor
Dr. Fortunato’s research focuses on cancer evolution, cancer biology, evolutionary biology and molecular genetics. He is working on human cancer and development of novel model organisms in cancer research.
To learn more about Dr. Fortunato, visit his webpage.
Pamela Winfrey, MA, MFA
Scientific Research Curator
Pamela explores the relationship between the arts, the humanities, and the sciences by curating and creating artworks, experiences, and exhibitions. Her background is in new media, performance, and installation art and she is also a working playwright, novelist, and screenwriter. Learn more about Pamela by visiting her website.
Cristina Baciu, M.Ed
Research Program Manager
Cristina is a research program manager working with interdisciplinary teams at the intersection of cooperation and cancer evolution research. She holds two bachelor's degrees (economics and psychology), and a master of education in educational leadership. In addition to her work at ASU, Cristina is currently pursuing a doctorate in education, with a focus on educational leadership in higher education. Learn more about Cristina by visiting her website.
Gissel Marquez is an undergraduate student at Arizona State University, majoring in Biomedical Sciences. She works in the Cooperation and Conflict lab, studying how Kombucha works and the potential benefits it may have.
In the future, Gissel plans to continue pursuing science and building her wet lab skills. Eventually, she wants to attain her Ph.D. and start conducting research of her own.
Nicole helps to organize and manage the undergraduate lab. In addition, she provides support to groups of interdisciplinary researchers working to understand complex social phenomena such as coordination among human groups and complex biological phenomena such as why we develop cancer. Her current research interests include competition behaviors and how we can utilize evolutionary perspectives to understand and mitigate their negative impact on group successes in addition to individual mental health.
Amy Boddy, Ph.D
Assistant Professor, University of California, Santa Barbara
Amy Boddy was a post doctoral fellow in the Aktipis Lab between 2014-2016. She received her Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Genetics from Wayne State University, School of Medicine. Dr. Boddy works on the applications of life history evolution to cancer. This includes both cellular evolution in neoplams and the role of life history evolution in cancer suppression. She is now an Assistant Research Professor at the Biodesign Institute at Arizona State University. Learn more about Dr. Boddy by visiting her website.
Helen Wasielewski, Ph.D
Former Post-doctoral Fellow
Dr. Wasielewski earned her Ph.D. in Evolutionary Anthropology from Rutgers University and works on understanding the relationships between human gut microbiota and eating behavior. She specializes in using laboratory experiments to understand food choice and intake given the evolutionary interests of gastrointestinal endosymbionts and their human hosts. Her work focuses on understanding the health implications of the bidirectional relationships between gut microbiota and behavioral variables including dietary intake, eating behavior, and social transmission. Dr. Wasielewski’s orientation to these topics is informed by work in evolutionary biology, non-human primate social behavior, and hominin evolution. Learn more about Dr. Wasielewski by visiting her website.
Daniel Sznycer, Ph.D
Assistant Professor, University of Montreal
Dr. Sznycer was a post doctoral fellow on the Human Generosity Project, in the Aktipis Lab. He received his PhD from University of California, Santa Barbara and is an evolutionary psychologist conducting research on the psychology of sociality. He combines methods, theories, and concepts drawn from the cognitive sciences and evolutionary biology to explore and map the evolved design of social emotions and their underlying motivational systems. He has multiple lines of cross-cultural evidence on shame, pride, compassion, and envy, and their roles in altruism, cooperation, social exclusion, and conflict. The methods he uses include experimental economic games, decision-making tasks, priming methods, cross-cultural and ethnographic data collection, large-scale representative surveys, and Anthropometry. Learn more about Dr. Sznycer by visiting his website.
Marco Campenni, Ph.D
Research Fellow, University of Southampton
Dr. Campenni was a Ph.D. fellow on the Human Generosity Project in the Aktipis lab. He received his Ph.D. in Cognitive Sciences from the University Tor Vergata, Rome, Italy. His work is centered on modeling the evolution of cooperative behavior, using different modeling techniques and tools (agent-based modeling, evolutionary game theory, GIS data). His research activity is focused on both theoretical and data informed models of social behaviors and dynamics of animals from an evolutionary and cross-species perspective. Learn more about Dr. Campenni by visiting his website.
Alex May, M.S
Alex is an evolutionary biologist with an interest in examining the emergence of cooperation and how it can break down across multiple systems, including microbes, plants, and cancer. His previous work included elucidating the role of cheating bacterial symbionts in the rhizobia-legume mutualism, examining the benefits of multicellularity in cancer cell clusters via artificial selection, and is currently developing the fermented drink ‘Kombucha’ as a model of social behavior in yeast and bacteria.He received his B.Sc. of Biology from McMaster University in Canada, and his M.Sc. in Ecology and Evolution from the Free University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands.
University of Auckland
Scott is a doctoral student at the University of Auckland where he is studying how individual differences such as religiosity, political beliefs, and life-history correlate with cooperative behavior and the costly punishment of free-riders.
Scott was a visiting scholar and completed a five-month internship with the Human Generosity Project. To learn more about Scott, visit his website.
Washington University in St. Louis
James was a research assistant in the Aktipis Lab between 2015-2016. He received his bachelor's degree with majors in biology and neuroscience from Oberlin College in 2015 and is now a doctoral student at Washington University in St. Louis in the The Queller/Strassmann Research Group.
Olmo van den Akker
Olmo van den Akker is currently doing his Research Master in Psychology at the University of Amsterdam. As part of this degree, Olmo has completed a research internship at the Human Generosity Project. In addition, Olmo is in the process of finishing his master’s degree in Behavioral Economics and Game Theory (also at the University of Amsterdam). His interests include evolutionary psychology, human cooperation, scientific methodology, and network analysis.
Former Graduate Student
Andres was a Graduate Student Researcher in the Department of Psychology at Arizona State University. He obtained his bachelor’s degree with a major in psychology and a minor in political science
from DePauw University. He is broadly interested in integrating an evolutionary framework with cognitive science methodologies to address
questions about human social cognition and behavior. Specifically, Andres is investigating the cognitive mechanisms underlying cooperation, rule-breaking, and risk management.
Former Research Technician, Kombucha Project
Shrinath received a bachelor degree (B.Tech) in Biotechnology from Anna University and a master degree in Cell and Molecular Biology from University of Texas at Dallas, and he is trained as a molecular biologist.Ph.D.During his masters, he worked with Dr.Nikki Delk on examining the effects of cytokines on breast cancer cells with respect to its receptor status. Since then, he has started to develop strong interests in the evolutionary perspectives of cancer development and multicellularity.