Hi, I'm Emily Towner

I’m Emily Towner and I am a 2nd year PhD Student in Psychology at the University of Cambridge and a Gates-Cambridge Scholar.

My research focuses on adolescence and the brain. My interests include learning, mental health, and understanding the impacts of stress and social interactions during development.

To find out more about my work, connect, or chat send me an email or follow me on Twitter!


About Me


I am currently pursuing my Ph.D. in the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Lab led by Professor Sarah-Jayne Blakemore. My Ph.D. research focuses primarily on social isolation in adolescents - where I am investigating the effects of isolation on fear learning. Through the use of high definition magnetic resonance imaging I am exploring structural associations between brain structure and one's response to social isolation. In addition, I seek to examine whether virtual social interactions (such as the use of smartphones and social media) might mitigate or exacerbate the effects of social isolation.

Before beginning my Ph.D. at Cambridge, I was lab manager and research associate in the Brain and Body Lab in the Psychology Department at UCLA where we investigated how early experiences influence the brain and body - including the gut microbiome. In 2019, I graduated from UCLA with a Master’s Degree in Social Science where I completed a project examining the interaction between early and current life stress on adolescent mental health. Before UCLA, I completed a postbaccalaureate program in psychology at Columbia University, a Bachelor’s Degree in Communications and Media from the City University of New York, and an Associate's Degree in Applied Science from the Fashion Institute of Technology in Advertising and Marketing Communications. In addition to my studies, I have worked as a journalist and held several positions among major news outlets.

I am passionate about open science and science communication, and hope to disseminate research findings to a wide audience, including young people - particularly young women and girls - who might be interested in STEM careers.

Originally, I am from the U.S. and grew up in a small town in Georgia before moving to New York City where I lived for 10 years and worked as a fashion model. After New York, I moved to Los Angeles for two years before settling in Cambridge, U.K. to pursue my Ph.D. In my spare time I love to workout, travel, try not to kill my houseplants, and explore the pubs and restaurants around Cambridge. I have a four year old rat terrier named Maggy - who currently resides in Florida with my mother - whom I am trying to import as soon as possible.

Get in touch at et467@cam.ac.uk