Meet our

cognitive scientists,
   emotion specialists,
      educators, & artists

Founder Ilya smiling to camera

Ilya Lyashevsky, PhDFounder & CEO

Founder Mel smiling to camera

Melissa Cesarano, PhDFounder & President

Team member Mercer giving thumbs up

Mercer CookEditorial

Team member Emily with hands over heart

Emily CandauxCurriculum

Team member Juan Felipe smiling

Juan Felipe RendonCreative

Learn more about
       our founders,
            Ilya & Mel

Movies and TV have the power to reflect our human condition with such emotional force.  As cognitive scientists specializing in emotion, we know our feelings can be studied both subjectively and objectively.

It turns out science and storytelling are perfectly compatible vehicles for understanding consciousness – and when you combine them, well, magic happens!

Mel & Ilya
on the motivation behind
founding ThinkHumanTV

Closing quotation marksOpening quotation marks
Ilya, our smiling founder, wearing glassesMel, our smiling founder, with her hand outstretched

As leaders in the field of emotion science, founders Mel & Ilya have spent decades building the foundation for ThinkHumanTV in the world’s leading educational and professional institutions. They are both ivy-league trained scientists, storytellers, professors, and National Science Foundation grant winners.


did you


Ilya (he/him)

Mel (she/her)

Terminator 2
(& as a father,
all pixar films!)

(& a24’s entire filmography)

co-founded tech  
nonprofit to alleviate

performed improv & sketch comedy for almost 15 years

creative fiction writer (published!)

yoga & aerial silks artist, poetry writer

Two smiling children from Luca movieTwo sisters from FrozenTwo animated characters from Elemental

Did you know...

Our founders also co-created the nation’s first graduate course on the cognition of Social Emotional Learning, which they currently teach at Columbia University.

Columbia University Logo

Our board of advisors

George Cigale
President, Littera Education,
Previously Founder

Susan Fuhrman, PhD
President Emerita
at Teachers College,
Columbia University

Jo Schneier
CEO of,
3x founder

Richard Lane, MD, PhD
Prof. of Psychiatry,
Psychology & Neuroscience,
U of Arizona

Joseph with hands crossed over chestRichard smiling headshotSusan smiling headshotGeorge smiling headshot

Interested in joining our team?

Even if we are not actively hiring on our jobs page, we review resumes & reach-outs sent to

send your resume
A brightly lit movie marquee showing ThinkHuman tag line


the SEL be
with you