Our Team

René Weber

Principal Investigator

René Weber received his Ph.D. (Dr.rer.nat.) in Psychology from the University of Technology in Berlin, Germany, and his M.D. (Dr.rer.medic.) in Psychiatry and Cognitive Neuroscience from the RWTH University in Aachen, Germany. He is a Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of California in Santa Barbara and director of UCSB’s Media Neuroscience Lab. He was the first media psychology scholar to regularly use fMRI to investigate a series of various media effects, from the impact of violence in video games to the effectiveness of anti-drug PSAs. He has published four books and more than 130 journal articles and book chapters (April, 2020) His research has been supported by grants from national scientific foundations in the United States and Germany, as well as through private philanthropies and industry contracts. He is a Fellow of the International Communication Association.

Frederic R. Hopp


Frederic is a PhD candidate in the Department of Communication at UCSB. His research explores media processes and effects from cognitive and neuroscientific perspectives. Specifically, his current research investigates the cognitive, neural, and behavioral outcomes of morally-laden narratives on various audiences. This work advances techniques for the computer-assisted extraction of latent moral content and moral conflict, establishes computational models for predicting large-scale sociopolitical events and narrative performance (e.g., movie script success), and illuminates the neural representations that undergird moral message processing. Frederic holds a Bachelor of Arts in Media Psychology with a minor in Political Science from the University of Mannheim and a Master of Arts in Communication from the University of California, Santa Barbara.

Jacob T. Fisher


Jacob is a graduate student at the University of California, Santa Barbara, a researcher in the Media Neuroscience Lab, and a trainee of the National Science Foundation IGERT in Network Science and Big Data. He researches multimedia processing and media multitasking from a network neuroscience perspective. His current work investigates how certain digital environments can modulate attentional networks in the brain, and how these modulatory effects can be harnessed to develop novel treatments for cognitive processing disorders like ADHD.

Musa Malik


Musa is a graduate student in the Department of Communication at the University of California, Santa Barbara, and a researcher in the Media Neuroscience Lab. He is passionate about the development of algorithmic tools that facilitate research in computational communication science. He is currently interested in exploring the relationships between content features extracted from global news-narratives and regional indicators that measure socio political phenomena such as inequality and conflict. Besides Python, R, and Javascript, Musa can fluently communicate in English, Urdu, and Hindi. He is intermediately proficient in Mandarin and hopes to master Polish in the coming years. Musa holds a BS in Neuroscience from New York University.