Pearl Chiu, an assistant professor at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute, recently presented her research to the advisory council of the National Institute of Mental Health. She was selected, along with two others, from several researchers who had previously received funding from Biobehavioral Research Awards for Innovative New Scientists, also called the BRAINS program. The National Institutes of Health started the initiative to support early career investigators and their neuroscience research.

Chiu was invited by Tom Insel, the director of the National Institutes of Mental Health, to present her research at the 241st open policy meeting of the National Advisory Mental Health Council in Bethesda, Maryland.

“As expected, Pearl wowed the council with her innovative work on understanding how social information is integrated with individual preferences to guide behavior in the presence of a social nudge,” said Michael Friedlander, executive director of the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute. “Her research is providing new mechanistic brain-based insights into how peer pressure influences behavior in education, and how financial markets can be affected by herd mentality, with potentially profound implications for understanding human behavior across a wider range of contexts.”