Conference Events

Thursday, April 11th, 08:00 ET

Mentor-Mentee Kick-Off

The SANS Trainee Committee will host an icebreaker kick-off event on April 11th, 2024 from 08:00-09:00 for their new Mentor Match Program. We will be serving coffees and pastries for participants. Our goal for the program, and the kick-off event is to provide a mechanism for the SANS community to build new bridges with each other, and more specifically, between the faculty and the trainee communities. Once you receive your pairing (via email), we encourage you to connect in advance (virtually) and then connect in-person at the kick-off event!

Thursday, April 11th, 17:00 ET

Comic SANS

Some scholars say that comedy is a simple equation of tragedy plus time. We disagree and think comedy is purely driven by Social and Affective Neuroscientists. This year, at SANS 2024, we are introducing Comic SANS, a comedy showcase of social/affective neuroscientists and the research topics they love.  Come see some of your favorite scientists perform stand-up and comedic readings, as well as participate in a game-show style “Name that Loose Construct”. 

What do we need from you? Well, your attendance, for one. But ALSO, we know that there are some fantastic (and funny) budding comedians. If you are interested in participating in Comic SANS by preparing a ~5 minute standup routine ( or a “tight five” in the industry) please email us at , and cc Comic SANS organizers Vishnu Murty () and Chelsea Helion (). 

Friday, April 12th, 08:00 ET

BIOPAC Session

Unlocking Virtual Reality for Social and Affective Researchers

Sponsored by:

Join us for an exploration of the immersive world of Virtual Reality (VR) in scientific research, tailored for social and affective researchers with no VR experience. Discover how VR has become an accessible tool for creating innovative experiments in minutes, empowering researchers to delve into novel work without the need for extensive programming knowledge.

  • Learn how advancements in technology have made it possible for researchers, regardless of coding experience, to set up a variety of experiments utilizing VR.
  • Engage in practical, hands-on demonstrations that guide you through the process of using VR technology for physiology data collection and analysis.
  • Learn how to use VR to study physiology—brain, heart, fatigue, stress, confusion, engagement, and workload.
  • See VR scenarios showcasing emotion, affect, stress, social cognition, behavior, etc.
  • Gain confidence in utilizing these tools, unlocking the potential to incorporate VR seamlessly into your own research projects.
  • Live demonstration of immersive experience with physiology data collection and analysis.

Speaker: Vineet Gopal, Canada Account Manager, BIOPAC Systems, Inc.

Bio: Vineet Gopal has a degree in engineering and a post-graduate diploma in business management. He has been a significant contributor to the Indian life sciences research industry and has been with BIOPAC since 2004. He has facilitated various research groups in establishing labs and optimizing research protocols. He has been involved in customizing products for various research applications and acknowledged in several research papers. Presently, he contributes to Canada’s life science research as an account manager with BIOPAC.

Friday, April 12th, 13:00 ET

Round Table Discussion

The SANS EDIJ Committee and Trainee Committee are hosting a joint session. The session will be a small group, round table discussion that will take place on April 12th, 2024 from 13:00-14:00. The goal of this session is to foster discussion around special topics in small groups to provide additional opportunities for building new connections at SANS. Each group will have 1-2 topic leaders to lead the discussion and a group of 4-5 participants. Lunch will be provided for discussion leaders and participants during this session.
Trainees (including postdocs and graduate students), SANS members outside of the academy or in a professional research position, and faculty at any career stage will be able to lead topics. Discussion topics will be finalized ~6 weeks before the meeting.

Saturday, April 13th, 08:00 ET

NIH Roundtable

In this roundtable discussion and open Q&A, staff from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), will highlight research priorities, funding opportunities, resources, and updates relevant to social and affective neuroscience. Research priorities from the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) will be discussed, in addition to NIH-wide training opportunities, policies, toolkits and data repositories, and other relevant updates. 

Kristin Brethel-Haurwitz, Ph.D.

Kristin Brethel-Haurwitz, Ph.D.

Social & Behavioral Scientist Administrator, Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR)

Dr. Kristin Brethel-Haurwitz is a Social & Behavioral Scientist Administrator in the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) in the Office of the Director at the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In this role, she supports the OBSSR mission to enhance the impact of health-related behavioral and social sciences research, coordinate and integrate these sciences within the larger NIH research enterprise, and communicate health-related behavioral and social sciences research findings. Dr. Brethel-Haurwitz’s areas of focus are social processes and contexts that affect health-related behavior and outcomes, and relevant intersections with neuroscience. Prior to OBSSR, Dr. Brethel-Haurwitz was a National Institute of Mental Health Kirschstein National Research Service Award postdoctoral fellow at the University of Pennsylvania, studying the role of empathic processes in social decision-making using behavioral and cognitive neuroscience methods, including transcranial magnetic stimulation. Dr. Brethel-Haurwitz earned a Ph.D. in psychology with a concentration in lifespan cognitive neuroscience from Georgetown University, where she studied emotional processing in altruistic kidney donors using behavioral tasks and functional magnetic resonance imaging.

David Leitman, Ph.D.

David Leitman, Ph.D.

Program Chief, Social Neuroscience and Communication in Adult Psychopathology Program, National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Dr. Leitman is a cognitive neuroscientist interested in social communication, its development, and the auditory processing mechanisms in music and speech who has applied these interests to the study of neurodevelopmental and psychiatric illnesses. Most of his work has focused on vocal emotion as conveyed through intonation change (prosody) using psychophysics and multimodal neuroimaging( EEG, MEG, MRI). Dr. Leitman received his Doctorate in Cognitive Neuroscience at the City University of New York. Before joining NIMH was an Assistant Professor at the University of Pennsylvania and a Visiting Scientist at the Centre de Recherche en Neurosciences de Lyon (INSERM) France. Dr. Leitman’s program at NIMH supports interdisciplinary research on the biological and behavioral underpinnings of social processes and their abnormalities in psychiatric disorders. This program aims to characterize the mechanisms that cause impairment in social cognition, communication, and social functioning in mental disorders and develop and test novel interventions for these impairments.

Liz Necka, Ph.D.

Liz Necka, Ph.D.

Program Director, Behavior Change and Behavioral Interventions/Family and Interpersonal Relationships Portfolios, Individual Behavioral Processes Branch, Division of Behavioral and Social Research, National Institute on Aging (NIA)

Dr. Elizabeth (Liz) Necka received her PhD in Psychology from the University of Chicago, and completed her postdoctoral fellowship at the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. Her research focused on the role of social and interpersonal factors on health and cognition and on psychophysiological regulation of social behavior. Prior to joining the Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR) at the National Institutes on Aging (NIA), Dr. Necka was a AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow and served as a program officer in the Division of Translational Research at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), where she managed a portfolio of grants on the behavioral science of mental disorders and aging. Dr. Necka has served as a representative to the Office of Basic and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) and the Basic Behavioral and Social Science Opportunity Network (OppNet) and coordinator of the NIH Intramural Affective Neuroscience Seminar. At NIA, Dr. Necka directs a portfolio of basic and translational research focused on interpersonal relationships in aging and well-being, with particular emphasis on dyadic interactions and informal caregiving for people living with Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias (AD/ADRD). Her portfolio also includes research on aging-related processes in pain, social disconnection, and social cognition.

Matt Sutterer, Ph.D.

Matt Sutterer, Ph.D.

Program Director, Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience Branch, Division of Neuroscience, National Institute on Aging (NIA)

Dr. Matt Sutterer is a Program Director in the Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience Branch, where he manages a portfolio of research on neural mechanisms underlying cognitive and emotional changes and/or stability with age. Dr. Sutterer also represents the institute on trans-NIH efforts including the NIH BRAIN Initiative Neuroethics Team. Dr. Sutterer earned his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Iowa where he conducted research looking at plasticity in brain networks related to emotion and decision-making following focal brain injury or surgical intervention. After his Ph.D., Dr. Sutterer completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Iowa examining aging-related changes in brain networks important for executive functions. Prior to joining NIA in 2018, Dr. Sutterer was an AAAS Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Institute of Justice (NIJ). At NIJ, Dr. Sutterer provided his expertise in cognitive neuroscience to research questions facing the criminal justice research community.

Saturday, April 13th, 19:00 onwards ET

Joint SANS & CNS Social

Rec Room Toronto Roundhouse

SANS & the Cognitive Neuroscience Society are pleased to announce a joint social. Join your colleagues from SANS & CNS at the Rec Room Toronto Roundhouse, for a casual “drop-in” style evening of fun and entertainment. This meet-up is open to both SANS and CNS attendees. Food, beverage, and gaming credits are available for purchase. Meet and share ideas with colleagues from both societies, while playing arcade games! Please wear your conference name badge to assist in finding your colleagues!

Thank You to Our 2024 Sponsors & Exhibitors!