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Centre for Music and Science



Erica's research interests are in the arts, health, and civil society. She is a second-year PhD candidate at Cambridge University's Centre for Music and Science. Her MPhil and PhD studies are funded by Gates Cambridge Scholarships.

Her PhD project examines civic engagement and social connectedness through Humans in Harmony, a 501(c)(3) arts nonprofit organization she co-founded in 2017. Her research uses methods from psychology, sociology, and public policy. She is currently conducting field research with Humans in Harmony in NYC.

Erica graduated with a B.A. in Psychology summa cum laude and a Certificate in Musical Performance from Princeton University. Her medical training is at Columbia University Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.


Key publications: 

Cao, E.L., Lotstein, M., & Johnson-Laird P.N. (2014). Similarity and families of musical rhythms. Music Perception, 31(5), 444-469. doi:

Cao, E. & Gowda, D. (2018) Collaborative songwriting for health sciences interprofessional service learning.  Medical Education,

Cao, E., Blinderman, C. D. and Cross, I. (2021, in press). Reconsidering empathy: an interpersonal approach and participatory arts  in the medical humanities. In press with Journal of  Medical Humanities.

MPhil student 2013-14
PhD student 2017-21
Not available for consultancy