Neuroeconomics draws on a number of disciplines and attracts people from all fields. The Huettel Lab is comprised of people from varied backgrounds, all with a unique perspective influenced by their respective academic backgrounds. Ranging from economics to biology, the Huettel Lab has a broad, diverse collection of researchers working in an open, collaborative lab to try and help further our understanding of human decision making.


Principal Investigator

Scott is a Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience, with secondary appointments in the Departments of Psychiatry and Neurobiology. His research uses a combination of behavioral, genetic, physiological, and neuroscience techniques to discover the neural mechanisms that underlie higher cognition, with a focus on economic and social decision making. Much of his research – which includes collaborations with neuroscientists, psychologists, behavioral economists, and business and medical faculty – falls within the emerging interdiscipline of neuroeconomics, where he is a Past-President of the Society for Neuroeconomics. He is an author of more than 140 scientific publications, including articles in Science, Nature Neuroscience, Nature Reviews Neuroscience, Neuron, Psychological Science, and other top journals in several fields. His research has been featured in CNN, Newsweek, Money Magazine, NPR Science Friday, and many other media outlets. He is lead author on a primary textbook in neuroscience, Functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging, and is a co-editor of the textbook Principles of Cognitive Neuroscience. Dr. Huettel has won the Dean’s Award for Excellence in Mentoring from the Duke University Graduate School, and has been recognized as one of the top 5% of undergraduate instructors at Duke. He was the founding Director of the Duke Center for Interdisciplinary Decision Sciences (D-CIDES), which brings together faculty and students from throughout campus for interdisciplinary research and educational programs.

Scott Huettel

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Vicki is a social psychologist who is broadly interested in how decisions are influenced by the presence of another person and the psychological processes that make something uniquely social. Her current work in the Huettel lab examines the influences of group identity and humanization on decision-making.

Victoria Lee

Nitisha is a current Post-doc in the Huettel lab. She obtained her Ph.D. from Ohio State University and did her undergraduate studies at UNC-Chapel Hill. She uses computational modeling and process-tracing techniques, such as eye-tracking and mouse-tracking, to understand the social decision-making process.You can reach her at:

Nitisha Desai

Abby joined the lab as a graduate student in the Fall of 2017. She studies how curiosity and intrinsic motivation impact learning and memory.

Abby Hsiung

Graduate students

Deborah is a recent graduate from Columbia University, where she majored in Neuroscience & Behavior. There, she conducted her honors thesis in the Higgins Lab exploring the motivational determinants of moral judgment. She is interested in understanding the neural mechanisms of moral judgments and decisions, as well as the development of moral standards.

Deborah Cesarini

Jade is a Ph.D. student in the Psychology and Neuroscience Department. In May 2022, she obtained her M.S from Arizona State University where she used neuroimaging to investigate functional differences within the dopaminergic pathways. She is currently studying trauma and its influence on decision-making. She likes to cook, watch documentaries, do DIYs, and hike in her spare time.

Jade Terry

Paul is a Ph.D. student in the Cognitive Neuroscience Admitting Program. Co-mentored with Walter Sinnott-Armstrong, Paul’s research explores the neural mechanisms underlying moral judgments and decision making, social decision making, and other higher cognitive functions. Paul utilizes behavioral tasks, neuroimaging, and machine learning to investigate these areas. He also works with Jana Schaich Borg and Felipe De Brigard. Prior to coming to Duke, he served from 2013 – 2018 as a Marine Corps Machine Gunner before receiving a B.S. in Psychology from Southern Connecticut State University in 2021.

Paul McKee

Lab Managers

Clara received her B.S. in Neuroscience & B.A. in Studio Art from Bucknell University in 2020. She is broadly interested in the cognitive underpinnings of complex social behavior and decision-making. Her work explores how cognitive processes such as empathy/theory of mind, sensory perception, attention, memory, and imagination impact subjective representations as well as affective and behavioral manifestations within social contexts. She is especially interested in leveraging neuroimaging and eye-tracking methods to investigate the neural dynamics underlying prosocial behavior (or lack thereof) towards human outgroups, animals, and artificial intelligence.

Clara Sandu

Derrick is a graduate student with the Duke Bioethics and Science Policy program under the Duke Graduate School and the current Lab Manager for the Huettel Laboratory.Before Duke, he was a Neuroscience major at Michigan State University under the Mastercard Foundation Scholars program. His pastimes involve Non-profit work, cooking, and photography.

Derrick Dwamena



Lab Alumni

Lab Alumni


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