Emily R.D. Murphy, PhD, JD
Professor of Law, Harry & Lillian Hastings Research Chair

University of California, College of the Law, San Francisco


I'm a law professor and a behavioral neuroscientist. My research focuses on the intersection of neuroscience, behavioral science, and law. My current research agenda is focused on developing a concept I call collective cognitive capital, which makes the case for analyzing policies based, to a substantial extent, on their effects on the collective brain functioning of people in society. Put simply: it is good for human flourishing when our brains work well and work together.

I also write about the use of neuroscience as evidence and how neuroscience and behavioral science should shape public policy and legal systems. My work has been published in Stanford Law Review, The Journal of Law & the Biosciences, Connecticut Law Review, William & Mary Law Review, Law & Psychology Review, Psychology Public Policy & Law, and Science.

I studied for my PhD in behavioral neuroscience and psychopharmacology at the University of Cambridge, as a Gates Cambridge Scholar, right after my undergraduate degree in Psychology/Mind, Brain, Behavior from Harvard. A planned career as a basic research scientist took a hard interdisciplinary turn, and I accepted a postdoc with the Program in Neuroethics at the Stanford Center for Biomecial Ethics, before moving to concurrent postdoc positions at Stanford Law School’s Center for Law and the Biosciences as well as the MacArthur Foundation’s Law and Neuroscience Project. 

Then, deciding that being a law professor was the best possible interdisciplinary academic career, I went to Stanford Law School for my JD. Following law school, I clerked for the Honorable Richard A. Paez of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and was a litigator for several years at Munger, Tolles & Olson LLP in Los Angeles. Prior to joining UC Law SF (then known as UC Hastings) in 2017, I spent a year as a fellow in the Program in Understanding Law, Science, and Evidence at UCLA Law School where I taught a new course in Neuroscience & Law.