The Team

Mia Borzello

A native of Northern California, Mia Borzello received her B.A. in Cognitive Science from the University of California, Berkeley in May 2011. While there, she pursued her interest in neuroscience by working under the auspices of Dr. Walter J. Freeman III, one of the world’s leading neuroscientists. Her fascination with the field of neurology has brought her to the Boston area, where she will continue brain research, specifically looking at epileptogenesis, at Massachusetts General Hospital. Her involvement in the Pursuit of Happiness project stems from her interest in understanding a subjective and emotional state- happiness- from a more objective, scientific, and physiological perspective.

Paul Desan

Paul Desan, MD, PhD, is Director of the Psychiatric Consultation Service for Yale New Haven Hospital. He obtained an A.B. in psychology at Princeton University, a Ph.D. in neurobiology at Harvard Medical School and an M.D. at Yale University School of Medicine. His present research interests include mood disorders, particularly Seasonal Affective Disorder or S.A.D., and how S.A.D. can be used as a model to measure the interaction of psychological factors such as stress and cognitive style, and biological factors including seasonal cues. One focus of interest is the question of how a resilient individual can regulate mood and maintain life satisfaction in medical illness and existential loss.

Allison A. Holzer

Allison A. Holzer, M.A.T. & C.P.C.C., coaches teachers and students on how to cultivate personal, emotional, and professional growth. With her combined education research, program management, and classroom teaching experiences, Allison has learned how to translate research into practical resources and evidence-based tools. Her blogs for the Pursuit of Happiness translate her expertise into simple, concrete, user-friendly tips that anyone can use to enhance positive emotions and contentment in their daily life. Allison completed her Masters of Art in Teaching at American University and a BA in Psychological and Brain Sciences, with an emphasis on learning, from Dartmouth College.

Emily Joy

Emily Joy MBChB, MRCGP is a family doctor who works in the Highlands of Scotland trying to spread a happiness epidemic amongst her patients. Happy patients are healthier patients, even when they are ill! She is the author of The Accidental Optimist’s Guide to Life, where her search for the meaning of life is constantly thwarted by her three children, her job and the series of accidents that go to make up real life. Her first book, Green Oranges on Lion Mountain is a rather different story of her two years as a young single doctor working in an upcountry hospital in Sierra Leone at the outbreak of civil war, but is still filled with optimism, hope and happiness. Her conclusions are that as a cossetted middle class Western woman, she still has a lot to learn, and to that end is delighted to join the Pursuit of Happiness tean to take a light hearted look at some of the happiness literature.

Todd B. Kashdan

Todd B. Kashdan, Ph.D., is Associate Professor of Psychology at George Mason University. Receiving his Ph.D. in 2004 from the University at Buffalo, State University of New York, Dr. Kashdan has published over 80 articles in peer-reviewed journals, including many of the eminent outlets in clinical, abnormal, social, and personality psychology, and given over 100 presentations at national and international conferences. In 2009, he published Curious? Discover the Missing Ingredient to a Fulfilling Life (William Morrow) to promote the science of well-being for a general audience, is an author of the forthcoming book Designing the Future of Positive Psychology (Oxford University Press), serves as associate editor of the Journal of Positive Psychology, and is on the advisory board for the Templeton Flourishing Children Project. To date, his research has mostly focused on anxiety, positive emotions, gratitude, purpose in life, how personal strengths operate in everyday life, social relationships, and how to foster and sustain happiness and meaning in life. For the past 10 years, he has been teaching college courses on the science of happiness. He is regularly invited to give talks and workshops to business executives, schools, parents, retirees, scholars, and health professionals. His research has been featured in several popular media outlets including the New York Times and The Washington Post. More information can be found at:

Debra Park

Debra Park has taught at West Deptford High School in Westville NJ, for 31 years and is currently the Social Studies Department chairperson. She is past-chair of the Teachers of Psychology in Secondary Schools, a committee of the American Psychological Association, has served on the Coalition for Psychology in Schools and Education, and is currently on APA’s National Standards Working Group revising the high school standards for psychology. She was recently elected to serve on APA’s Membership Board from 2009 – 2012. She is also a Part-Time Lecturer in the Teacher Preparation Program at Rutgers University -Camden campus for the past 8 years. Ms. Park has received many honors including N.J. Gloucester County Teacher of the Year (1999-2000), Rutgers University Public School Educator of the Year (2004), and APA Award for Excellence in Teaching Psychology (2006).

Mark Setton

Mark Setton, D.Phil., has studied and published works on East Asian philosophy for the past 30 years. He earned his B.A. and M.A. at Sungkyunkwan University, the only Confucian university in Asia. He has taught at the State University of New York at Stonybrook, the University of California at Berkeley, and Oxford University, where he earned his doctorate. He is presently teaching East Asian philosophy and world religions, as well as his favorite course “Perspectives on Happiness,” at the University of Bridgeport. He recently received an award for his work comparing philosophical and psychological perspectives on Subjective Well-Being.

John Wright

John Wright has developed curricula for elementary, secondary and university programs in the areas of philosophy for children and civic engagement. He received his B.A. in Cultural Studies and Comparative Literature from the University of Minnesota and studied photography at The Maine Media Workshops. He is currently pursuing his own happiness as a freelance designer near the Mississippi where he spends most of his time chasing two adorable imps and playing on the computer. You can see more of John’s designs at