Greater Good Science Center

Greater Good Science Center

The Greater Good Science Center at UC Berkeley turns science into action.

Founded by acclaimed social psychologist Dacher Keltner in 2001, the GGSC is unique in its commitment to both science and practice: Not only does it sponsor groundbreaking scientific research into social and emotional well-being, it also helps people apply this research to their personal and professional lives.

For more than a decade, it has been at the fore of a new scientific movement to explore the roots of happy and compassionate individuals, strong social bonds, and altruistic behavior. And it has been without peer in its award-winning efforts to translate and disseminate this science to the public, particularly through its popular online magazine, Greater Good.

The New York Times has called the GGSC “the epicenter for research on happiness and gratitude” while Daniel Goleman, Ph.D., psychologist and bestselling author of Emotional Intelligence, says Greater Good magazine has “the best coverage anywhere of the emerging science of empathy, altruism, and compassion.” 

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Dacher Keltner, Ph.D, is a founder of the Greater Good Science Center and its director. After receiving his Ph.D. from Stanford University, Dacher has devoted his career to studying the nature of human goodness, conducting ground-breaking research on compassion, awe, laughter, and love. He is also a leading expert on social intelligence, the psychology of power, and the emotional bases of morality. He has written more than 100 scientific papers and two best-selling textbooks, Social Psychology and Understanding Emotions. More recently, he is the author of the best-selling book Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, and a co-editor of the Greater Good anthology, The Compassionate Instinct.

Dacher is an outstanding speaker who has received several national research and teaching awards. Wired has rated the podcasts of his “Human Emotion” course as one of the five best academic podcasts in the country. He has twice presented his research to His Holiness the Dalai Lama as part of a continuing dialogue between the Dalai Lama and scientists, and his work is featured regularly in major media outlets, including The New York Times, CNN, and NPR. In 2008, the Utne Reader named him as one of 50 visionaries who are changing our world

Jesse Antin is the Development Director at the Greater Good Science Center. He brings a background in arts and conservation fundraising and is grateful now to understand the psychology behind why giving feels so good. Prior to joining the GGSC, Jesse was a fundraiser for the environmental law non-profit Earthjustice. This followed a career in classical music during which he won a Grammy as a countertenor with the vocal ensemble Chanticleer. Jesse graduated from Brown University and now lives in Oakland with his wife and two young sons.

Juliana Breines, Ph.D., is a Senior Fellow at the GGSC, a contributing writer for the GGSC’s websites, Greater Good and Greater Good in Action, and a course assistant and data analyst for the GGSC’s online course, The Science of Happiness. A postdoctoral fellow at Brandeis University, Juliana’s research examines the influence of self-compassion on psychological and physical health. She is the author of the Psychology Today blog “In Love and War” and co-author of the blog “Psych Your Mind.” She received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, and her Ph.D. in Social and Personality Psychology from UC Berkeley. She currently lives with her husband in Boston.

Emily Campbell, the GGSC’s Education Research Associate, is a current Ph.D. student in Human Development and Education at UC Berkeley, where her research interests include moral development and education; social-emotional learning and positive psychology; and parenting/family socialization across cultures. Before coming to Berkeley and the GGSC, she graduated from Stanford with a degree in Human Biology, worked at an elementary school in East San Jose through the City Year program, and spent two years teaching English at a high school in Japan.

Christine Carter, Ph.D., Senior Fellow at the GGSC, is a sociologist and the author of the popular books The Sweet Spot and Raising Happiness. A sought-after keynote speaker, Christine talks to to executives, general audiences, and parents about how to live life from our “sweet spot”—that place of both power and ease. She has been quoted or featured in many major media outlets, including The New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, the Washington Post, the Oprah Winfrey Show, the Dr. Oz Show, the TODAY show, the Rachael Ray Show, and PBS, as well as NPR and BBC Radio. Christine received her B.A. from Dartmouth College, where she was a Senior Fellow, and her Ph.D. in sociology from UC Berkeley. She has also worked as an innovation consultant for Fortune 500 companies.

Mariah Flynn is the GGSC’s Education Program Coordinator, where provides administrative support for GGSC education initiatives including the Summer Institute for Educators. Before joining the GGSC, Mariah worked with the Schools of Hope (SOH) Project in Madison, Wisconsin. Serving first as an AmeriCorps member and later as a SOH staff member, she coordinated volunteers and early literacy resources at low-income Madison preschools and provided support to volunteer tutors and AmeriCorps members as they navigated the world of working with elementary-aged students. Prior to her time at SOH, Mariah earned her B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of Wisconsin, Madison.

Jason Marsh is Director of Programs and Editor-in-Chief of the Greater Good Science Center’s award-winning online magazine, Greater Good. He oversees the production of all editorial content, curates the “Science of a Meaningful Life” event and video series, and coordinates the public education efforts at the GGSC, where he has worked for more than a decade. In that time, Jason’s writing has explored everything from the psychology of the bystander to the reasons why he should finally start meditating. Jason is also a co-editor of two anthologies of Greater Good articles: The Compassionate Instinct and Are We Born Racist?. Before coming to the GGSC, Jason was the managing editor of the political journal The Responsive Community. He has also worked as a reporter and producer at KQED Public Radio in San Francisco, as a documentary producer, and as a kindergarten teacher. His first documentary, Unschooled, a profile of three families practicing the controversial homeschooling method known as “unschooling,” debuted at the Big Sky Documentary Film Festival in Missoula, Montana. A graduate of Brown University and the UC Berkeley Graduate School of Journalism, Jason lives in Berkeley with his wife and daughter.

Rodolfo Mendoza-Denton, Ph.D., professor of psychology at UC Berkeley, serves as GGSC’s Faculty Adviser. Mendoza-Denton’s research focuses on the interface of culture, social cognition, and intergroup processes. He is interested in understanding how marginalization of one’s social group affects basic processes related to social identity and intergroup relationships. Rudy writes for Greater Good about cross-group relationships and the psychology of prejudice, and he is a co-editor of the Greater Good anthology, Are We Born Racist?. He served as interim director of the GGSC from 2013-2014.

Kira M. Newman is Editor and Web Producer at the Greater Good Science Center. She writes, edits, and produces content for all of the Greater Good Science Center’s websites, from the magazine to Greater Good in Action to the Science of Happiness MOOC, for which she’s served as course assistant for three semesters. Offline, she is the creator of CaféHappy, a Toronto-based meetup that gathers monthly to discuss how to be happier. Kira comes to GGSC from the world of tech journalism, where she was published in outlets including Social Media Monthly and Tech.co. 

Hong Nguyen is the Director of Operations at the GGSC and keeps the center running. She has worked at UC Berkeley since 2000, most recently at the Center for Risk Management. She grew up in Cincinnati, Ohio, and has raised three kids.

Elise Proulx is the Marketing Director of the Greater Good Science Center. Previous to joining GGSC, Elise was marketing and development director at San Francisco’s beloved literary festival, Litquake, and ran Kidquake in the Schools, a program that brought children’s book authors to public schools in San Francisco. She spent more than a decade in the worlds of book publishing and news media in both New York City and California. She was awarded a bachelors degree from UC Berkeley and a Master of Information and Library Science from San José State University, and lives in Berkeley with her husband and son.

Emiliana R. Simon-Thomas, Ph.D., is the science director of the Greater Good Science Center, where she oversees its fellowship program, Expanding Gratitude project, and is a co-instructor of the GGSC’s “Science of Happiness” online course.

Emiliana earned her doctorate in Cognition Brain and Behavior at UC Berkeley. Her dissertation used behavioral and neuroscience methods to examined how negative states like fear and aversion influence thinking and decision-making. During her postdoc, Emiliana transitioned to studying pro-social states like love of humanity, compassion, and awe. From there, she served as Associate Director/Senior Scientist at CCARE (the Center for Compassion and Altruism Research and Education) at Stanford University, focusing on how compassion benefits health, well-being, and psychosocial functioning.

Today, Emiliana’s work spotlights the science that connects health and happiness to social affiliation, caregiving, and collaborative relationships, as she continues to examine the potential for—as well as the benefits of—living a more meaningful life.

GGSC Editor and Web Producer Jeremy Adam Smith edits the GGSC’s online magazine, Greater Good, and helps launch new products like Thnx4.org and Greater Good in Action. He is the author or co-editor of four books: The Daddy Shift, Rad Dad: Dispatches from the Frontiers of Fatherhood, Are We Born Racist?, and The Compassionate Instinct.

Jeremy’s coverage of racial and economic segregation in San Francisco schools has won numerous honors, most recently the 2014 Sigma Delta Chi award for investigative reporting and John Swett Award from the California Teachers Association, and his articles and essays have appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle, Utne Reader, The Nation, Mindful, Shambhala Sun, Wired, and many other periodicals, websites, and books. Jeremy has also been interviewed by The Today Show, the New York Times, USA Today, Salon.com, Working Mother, Nightline, ABC News, NBC News, the Globe and Mail, and numerous NPR shows about parenting and education. Before joining the GGSC, Jeremy was a 2010-11 John S. Knight Journalism fellow at Stanford University.

Jill Suttie, Psy.D., is Greater Good’s Book Review Editor and a regular contributor to the magazine. She received her Psy.D. from the University of San Francisco, where she studied depression and body image issues in new mothers. Prior to joining Greater Good, Jill has worked as a psychologist in private practice, a college counselor and administrator, and a biochemist. She is also a musician who recently released her first CD of original songs. Jill lives with her husband and two children in Berkeley.

Vicki Zakrzewski, Ph.D., is the Education Director of the Greater Good Science Center. Her articles (GGSC Magazine, Huffington Post, Edutopia, and ASCD’s Educational Leadership), talks, workshops, and GGSC Summer Institute for Educators around the world provide science-based ideas for promoting the social and emotional well-being of students, teachers, and administrators, as well as methods for creating positive school cultures. Examples of her recent consulting work for incorporating the life-enhancing science of compassion, empathy, gratitude, awe, and other social-emotional skills include: Futures Without Violence, the Mind and Life Institute (of which she is a fellow), the Jim Henson Company on a new television show for preschoolers, the International School of Brussels on the Common Ground Collaborative character curriculum, and Pixar/Disney on The Emotions Survival Guide — a follow-up book for children based on the movie Inside Out.

A former teacher and school administrator, Vicki earned her Ph.D. in Education and Positive Psychology from Claremont Graduate University. In her doctoral research, Vicki spent two months in India at a school awarded the Peace Education Prize by UNESCO and the Hope of Humanity Award by the Dalai Lama, researching their methods for developing teachers’ ability to create caring relationships with students.