National Endowment for the Arts Research Lab at UCLA

Meet our Team

Robert M. Bilder, Ph.D.

“Principal Investigator

Dr. Bilder has more than 30 years’ experience in research on brain-behavior relations, with expertise in clinical neuropsychology,neurophysiology, structural and functional neuroimaging, and genomics strategies as these are applied to the study of both healthy people and those with various neurological and psychiatric syndromes. He is particularly interested in dimensional approaches to understanding mental processes, and in understanding the biological underpinnings of creative cognition. He directs the Tennenbaum Center for the Biology of Creativity and the Mind Well program of the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative.

Armen Arevian, MD, PhD

Assistant Professor-in-Residence

Dr. Armen Arevian is Assistant Professor-in-Residence in the Department of Psychiatry at UCLA; Director of the Innovation Lab at the Semel Institute at UCLA; Director of the Translational Technology and Communications Core at the California Center of Excellence in Behavioral Health; and Director of the Consultation-Liason and Telepsychiatry at the UCLA Santa Monica Hospital. He received his medical degree from the University of Pittsburgh/Carnegie Mellon University through the Medical Scientist Training Program and his PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Pittsburgh.

Daniel Seeff

West Coast Director

Daniel Seeff is the program director of the Herbie Hancock Institute of Jazz Performance at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music. He also directs the Institute’s Los Angeles public school outreach programming, including Jazz in the Classroom and BeBop to Hip-Hop, and serves as an associate producer of the Institute’s annual International Jazz Competition. Seeff coordinated the Institute’s summer jazz colony for six years and has produced dozens of Institute educational concerts in Los Angeles. He is the host and producer of the hip-hop and jazz radio show ExcursionsRadio on KJazz in Los Angeles. Seeff is also a bassist and guitarist who has toured internationally and performed on many major label albums with artists such as Eminem, Jay-Z, Drake, Kendrick Lamar, and Cypress Hill. He co-wrote and played bass on the number 6 Billboard hit song “The Man” by Aloe Blacc and wrote music for and played on Grammy-nominated albums by Anderson .Paak, Ledisi, and the soundtrack to the Oscar-winning animated feature film Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

Ariana Anderson, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor In-Residence, Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences

Dr. Ariana E. Anderson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA, and the Director of the Laboratory of Computational Neuropsychology in the Medical Psychology- Neuropsychology Division. She received her B.S. in Mathematics and her Ph.D. in Statistics followed by a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences at UCLA. She develops algorithms to identify and treat disease using all data modalities, from behavioral assessments to neuroimaging. She is a recipient of the Burroughs Wellcome Fund Career Award at the Scientific Interface, as well as a K25 Career Award from the NIA on neurovascular correlates of dementia. Her baby monitor for Deaf parents, ChatterBaby, was awarded first prize in MHealth Apps in UCLA's 2016 Code for the Mission competition. She has served as a reviewer for both the NIH and the NSF, and has published on a broad range of neuropsychiatric disorders.

Sophie Lawrence

Research Lab Coordinator

Sophie (she/her) is a recent UCLA graduate with a B.A. in psychology and a minor in education. She has worked alongside Dr. Robert Bilder in researching the impact of the arts on well-being since 2021. She firmly believes in the potential of art to serve as a versatile and effective means to heal and help people thrive. In the future, Sophie plans to earn her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology and immerse herself in the realms of teaching, research, and patient care. She aspires to ignite a passion for psychology in her students, as a dedicated teacher did for her. Ultimately, her goal is to make a meaningful impact on the field and on the lives of those she encounters.

Diana Hereld, Psy.D.

Research Advisor

Dr. Diana Hereld (she/her) is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Clinical Neuropsychology at UCLA Semel Institute. She received her Psy.D. from Pepperdine University where her dissertation explored the use of clinical music interventions with adolescents experiencing trauma. She holds an M.A. in Music and Integrative Studies from the University of California, San Diego where she examined the use of musical intensity in affect regulation for reducing self-destructive behavior. Diana has studied vocal performance internationally and continues to enjoy singing, playing the piano, and collaborating with local bands in Los Angeles. Her research interests involve the use of music interventions in emotion regulation and neuropsychological rehabilitation.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Emily Vu

Research Assistant

Emily (she/her) is a fourth-year student at UCLA majoring in Physiological Sciences and minoring in Film, Television, and Digital Media Studies. She cites her favorite art forms as being movies and musical theater. She especially appreciates these mediums because they combine the visual artistry of cinematography with the musicality of a soundtrack or score for a multi-sensory experience that she loves to share with her friends and family. During her time at the NEA Research Lab at UCLA, Emily is most excited to explore how the arts can be integrated into future care systems and specifically, the role cinema may play in promoting patient wellness. Emily hopes to attend medical school after receiving her undergraduate degree and potentially pursue a career in family medicine or orthopedics.

Hailey Miranda

Research Assistant

Hailey (she/her) is a second-year student at UCLA. She is currently a Pre-Human Biology and Society major who hopes to pursue a minor in Biomedical Research. Her favorite forms of art are music and vinyasa yoga, and she is excited to explore her passions at the NEA Research Lab at UCLA. Hailey's future goals include attending graduate school and becoming a healthcare professional who views treatment from a holistic perspective. More specifically, she intends to study the intersection of endocrinology and the arts in order to rewrite the healthcare narrative from a standpoint overlooked by medicine. Until then, her current goal is to conquer the very tiresome, uphill walk back to her dorm after a long day of classes.

Emiliano Jasis

Research Assistant

Emiliano Jasis (she/they/he) is a second-year student at UCLA majoring in Psychobiology and pursuing a minor in Anthropology. Her favorite forms of art include music and street art, as these mediums provide outlets for self-expression and social commentary. An LA native, Emiliano grew up observing the importance of personal art for individual and communal well-being. They are most interested in exploring the intersection between artful expression and neuroscience as a means of promoting wellness for all. In the future, Emiliano hopes to attend graduate school to continue his research in mental and physical health.

Grace Swenson

Research Assistant

Grace Swenson (she/her/hers) is a first-year Physiological Sciences major at UCLA who hopes to pursue a minor in Art History. Her preferred visual arts medium involves portrait drawing because it requires her to connect with individuals outside of her typical environment. Grace also enjoys folding origami, which she has implemented in nursing homes to benefit resident motor coordination. With the NEA Lab, Grace is intrigued to continue investigating how the arts can improve geriatric mental and physical wellness. Grace’s professional plans include practicing cardiothoracic surgery, supporting older demographics, and further uncovering intersections between art and medicine.

Ansh Purohit

Research Assistant

Ansh (he/him) is a second-year student at UCLA double majoring in Cognitive Science and Economics. An ardent explorer of diverse academic disciplines, he harbors a deep fascination for the intricacies of human creativity, curiosity, and rationality. In addition to his academic pursuits, Ansh's life is heavily influenced by a rich tapestry of performing arts, from the melodious strains of Indian classical music to the electrifying rhythms of 80s rock bands. This cultural backdrop infuses his perspective and fuels his drive to understand how these artistic forms foster creativity and contribute to overall well-being. His aspirations are firmly grounded in a desire to harness the power of the arts to enhance well-being and healthcare, envisioning a world made better by the fusion of technology and the arts. Through the NEA Research Lab, he seeks to find innovative and arts-based solutions to promote the welfare of individuals and communities alike, and leverage the performing arts to create a brighter future where the human spirit is enriched through the harmony of creativity and rationality.

Katie MacDonald

Research Assistant

Katie (she/her) is a third-year student at UCLA pursuing a major in Psychology and a double minor in Musicology and Spanish. Her favorite art form is music, as it has always been an integral part of her life growing up in a family of musicians. She enjoys playing music (guitar, piano, and singing) and listening to a wide variety of styles from classical to psychedelic rock. She is very excited to be a part of the NEA Research Lab at UCLA because it perfectly combines her two greatest passions and areas of expertise–psychology and music. She is also passionate about mental health advocacy, and she loves how the lab not only examines the intersection between engagement with the arts and mental health, but also seeks to use this as evidence to provide holistic treatment that is accessible to all. After graduation, Katie hopes to do something with a similar mission to the NEA Lab and use psychology and music to help people

Alumni Lab Members

Marissa Stinnett

Research Assistant

Austin Ma

Research Assistant

Havish Gattu

Research Assistant