Department of Psychology to welcome three new Assistant Professors

Aug. 13, 2021

Rebecca Carey


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Rebecca Carey joined Princeton this month as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology. Carey received a Ph.D. in Psychology from Stanford University in 2018 after receiving a B.A. in Psychology and Chinese from Trinity University.

At Princeton, Carey will launch the Adversity and Relationships in Context (ARC) Lab. Research in this lab will focus on understanding and addressing inequality in society through two broad questions. First, how does adversity shape relationships and, second, how can close relationships mitigate or exacerbate adversity? To date, Carey’s research has focused on social class as a powerful and pervasive source of adversity in everyday life. For example, her research has examined how lower social class contexts can shape the form and function of social networks as well as the meaning of relationships; how supportive and trusting relationships can mitigate social class disparities in health and well-being; and how cross-class interactions can foster positive academic outcomes for first-generation, low-income college students.

Carey’s research leverages an interdisciplinary and multi-method approach, integrating perspectives from cultural psychology, sociology, relationship science, and intergroup dynamics. She is consequently interested in exploring a wide range of topics (e.g., health and well-being, self and identity, morality, social networks, behavior, intergroup interactions) using a diversity of methods (e.g., experimental studies, field studies, daily diaries, cultural products analysis, qualitative analysis).


Erik Nook


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Erik Nook will join the Department of Psychology as an Assistant Professor beginning July 2022 after completing a 1-year postdoctoral scholarship at Yale University. Nook is currently a clinical psychology Ph.D. student at Harvard University, and he is completing his predoctoral clinical internship at Weill Cornell Medical College. Before commencing his Ph.D. studies, Nook completed his undergraduate degree in Psychology at Columbia University and worked as a laboratory manager at Stanford University.

Nook will lead a laboratory focused on advancing both basic and translational understanding human emotion. Nook’s research integrates developmental, translational, and neuroscientific tools to clarify how language shapes emotion. For example, he has studied how language helps or hinders efforts to regulate one’s emotions, how children and teenagers learn to identify their emotions using words, and how neuroscience can shed light on the affective mechanisms underlying why we conform to social norms. His laboratory will address these and other questions with the aim of producing knowledge that can ultimately improve psychological health and well-being.


Natalia Vélez


Photo of Natalia Vélez

Natalia Vélez will join the Department of Psychology as an Assistant Professor beginning August 2023. Vélez completed her Ph.D. in Psychology at Stanford University and her undergraduate degree in Brain and Cognitive Sciences at MIT. She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at Harvard University, where her work is funded by an NIH DSPAN F99/K00 Award.

Vélez’s research examines the cognitive foundations of human collaboration. Her work examines collaboration at two scales: how individuals learn from and about their collaborators, and how communities self-organize for effective collaboration. She uses a combination of computational, developmental, and neuroimaging methods. Outside of the lab, Natalia is passionate about science communication; she has drawn hundreds of portraits of scientists alongside their science, under the moniker of “the Science Sketcher.”