Faculty & Staff


Headshot of John MonterossoJohn Monterosso
Associate Professor

John Monterosso studies mechanisms underlying human self-control success and failure from the combined perspectives of behavioral economics and cognitive neuroscience. He has co-authored more than 100 journal articles and book chapters. His research is primarily applied to the problem of addiction and obesity, and it is currently supported by the National Institute of Health.


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Graduate Students

Headshot of Milad Kassaie

Milad Kassaie

I am a PhD student in the Brain and Cognitive Science area of USC Psychology program. I am interested in human motivation and decision making, and the contextual factors that influence them. I use neuroimaging, physiological measurements, and computational modeling to tackle issues of interest in these fields. I have previous experience in using non-invasive brain stimulation(TMS, tES)  and fMRI to study value-based decision making and food craving.



Headshot of Shuning Wang

Shuning Wang

I am a PhD student in BCS. I am interested in self-control, addiction, motivation, decision-making, and behavioral economics. I find it both fascinating and entertaining to utilize my own human brain to study the brains of others. During my leisure time, I enjoy reading novels or philosophical books, exercising, and traveling.





Natalia “Natalie” Peraza headshotNatalia “Natalie” Peraza

Natalia’s research interests include investigating the relationship between substance use and psychological vulnerabilities to better understand and reduce affect-driven substance use among underserved and vulnerable populations. She is also interested in understanding the abuse potential and therapeutic effects of drugs to inform public health policy.




Project Assistants

Veronica West headshot

Veronica West

I am a full-time research assistant working in the Addiction and Self-Control Laboratory at USC. Currently as part of the vape brain study, I ensure that participants’ needs are met at all times from the initial stage of recruitment through the completion of the study. Additionally, as a certified Level II MRI operator I run the individual fMRI sessions for the 32 participants in our study. Outside of the study, I am passionate about mental health, and I look forward to pursuing my Master’s in Marriage and Family in the near future.


Research Assistants

Headshot of Ashwin Balaje Ashwin Balaje

I am an undergraduate studying Computational Neuroscience. As a part of the study investigating Oral Nicotine Products, I am exploring the perception of these ONPs in comparison to other nicotine products, specifically the relative appeal and abuse liability of these products, which are rapidly growing in popularity and usage across the country. Outside of this research, I am interested in exploring ways to improve healthcare through new technologies and research. In my free time, I love to play Ultimate Frisbee, box, and am an avid sports fan.



Headshot of Paul Martines.Paul Martines

I am a progressive degree student working towards my bachelor’s degree in Health and Human Sciences and a Master of Public Health degree. My research interests include appeal and marketing of nicotine and tobacco products as well as substance use disparities among vulnerable populations. In my free time, I enjoy going to concerts, exploring LA restaurants, and reading a book at the beach.


Addiction & Self Control Lab

3620 South McClintock
SGM 501
Los Angeles, CA 90089