Georgetown Scientific Research Journal GSR Journal
Skip to main navigation menu Skip to main content Skip to site footer

Student Highlights: Heather Doherty (COL'23)

Heather Doherty is a junior in the College majoring in Psychology and minoring in both Statistics and Education, Inquiry, and Justice. She is an aspiring Ph.D. candidate.

Experience in Research:

As an aspiring Ph.D. candidate, Heather became interested in scientific research early in her academic career. She watched Dr. Abigail Marsh's TedTalk about altruism and was compelled by her mission to destigmatize psychopathy and make research and resources more accessible to non-academia spheres. Heather views research as a tool to understand more about ourselves, and feels a responsibility to translate scientific findings into models that are straightforward and informative for the general public. She believes that research should not be exclusive, especially when its findings can better all people's lives. Because Heather aligned so closely with Dr. Marsh’s mission, she reached out to Dr. Marsh and applied to be a research assistant at her lab, the Laboratory on Social and Affective Neuroscience. She has been working at LSAN since Spring 2021, and since then has had the opportunity to involve herself with projects surrounding personality, psychopathy, empathy, emotional recognition, and much more. Heather hopes to complete her honors thesis under Dr. Marsh's mentorship. 

LSAN as a whole studies the caring continuum, which is the spectrum of empathy. On one end of the spectrum, altruists are people who have high empathy. Heather studies individuals who have donated a kidney to a stranger in this realm. On the other end, individuals with psychopathy are people who have little to no empathy. Heather’s research has focused on this end of the spectrum and has connected psychopathy to personality traits such as charisma and narcissism, and behaviors such as emotional recognition and antisocial behavior. In the Summer of 2022, she conducted a mentored study that investigated the role of charisma as a moderating variable between psychopathy and antisocial behavior. This study also had accompanying follow-up interviews which will be analyzed for non-verbal behaviors and will investigate the relationship between self-report personality measures and direct observation of personality. 


Heather’s first year at Georgetown was completely virtual, and she felt a disconnect between herself, her peers, and her studies. LSAN provided her with a welcoming and supportive community eager to assist her on her academic and personal journeys. Her LSAN family has shown her the importance of collaboration and community in a research team. Heather has been able to apply the learning from her classes directly to her research through project proposals and literature reviews. Additionally, she has been able to explore and expand her research interests and integrate her own passions into the missions of her lab. The dedication of her research team has illustrated how meaningful research can be and how important it is to make research accessible and attainable for all people. In the future, Heather hopes to continue her research in personality and neuroscience in graduate school and beyond.