People

Researchers

Principal Investigator

Mahesh Srinivasan, Ph.D. [CV] [Research Statement]

I am an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and a member of the Cognitive Science Faculty at the University of California, Berkeley. Previously, I was a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, San Diego. Before this, I received a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Harvard University in 2011, and received a B.S. in Symbolic Systems from Stanford University in 2005. Using empirical methods from developmental psychology and psycholinguistics, our lab's research explores how linguistic, cognitive, and social abilities arise and interact with one another during human development and across different cultures.

Lab Manager

Emily Chau

Hello and welcome! I’m a recent Berkeley graduate interested broadly in how people weigh competing sources of information to reach a goal they might have. I'm excited to explore this further in the intersection of language and cognition as I'm fascinated by how words in itself act as information units, often without needing to be explicitly told their meaning. If you have any questions about the lab—whether it be working in it or participating in one of our studies—please feel free to reach out.

Post Doctoral Researchers

Ye Rang Park, Ph.D.

I’m a postdoctoral researcher supporting the Psychology and Economics of Poverty Initiative at the Center for Effective Global Action with Dr. Mahesh Srinivasan and Dr. Supreet Kaur. I completed my PhD in human development and family studies at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, focusing on resilient parenting in the context of poverty. I am interested in how parents navigate financial hardships and how we can empower parents to help their children develop important early skills for later adaptive cognitive and socio-emotional outcomes. My current research examines how financial scarcity affects family dynamics, including parent-child interactions, inter-parental relationships, and early childhood developmental outcomes.

 

Paul Haward, Ph.D.

I’m a postdoctoral researcher working with Dr. Mahesh Srinivasan. Previously, I completed my graduate training with Dr. Susan Carey at Harvard University. My research focuses on the structure of human concepts. Humans are the only species to acquire such a vast stock of concepts—concepts like table, tiger, artist, universe, democracy, and hexagon. The concepts we possess have a profound impact on the way we think. They frame our interpretation of the external world, and we combine them together to produce complex, intricate thoughts using natural language. My research investigates the structure of these concepts, how that structure then skews the way we see the world around us, and the role it plays when concepts are combined.

 

Jenny Lu, Ph.D.

I’m a postdoc working with Dr. Mahesh Srinivasan at UC Berkeley and Dr. Terra Edwards at UChicago. Influenced by my PhD work at UChicago working with Susan Goldin-Meadow, I investigate how we develop the ability to communicate in a variety of social environments and modalities. My current work focuses on how DeafBlind children develop the ability to coordinate and establish joint attention with others within the tactile modality. The second aspect of my research asks how our specific world experiences and learning biases influence the structure of our language on different timescales. To answer these questions, I examine how constellations of signs and their meanings within homesign systems and an emerging sign language within the DeafBlind community, protactile language, are developed over time.

Graduate Students

Monica Ellwood-Lowe

As a graduate student working in the LCD Lab and the Building Blocks of Cognition Lab, I am interested in how children’s early experiences shape their linguistic and cognitive development. Why do some children seem to thrive in school, while others don't? My research integrates what we know about the structure of society with what we know about children's brain development to understand the barriers some children face to success, and how they are able to adapt and thrive in the face of these barriers. I use behavioral, psychophysiological, and neuroimaging methods to help answer these questions. My graduate research is generously supported by the NSF GRFP and the UC Berkeley Chancellor's Fellowship.

 

Antonia Langenhoff

I am fascinated by the development of normative and linguistic cognition, and how these cognitive abilities interact with our uniquely human social reasoning skills. As a graduate student, I explore the role that engaging in social discourse and argumentation plays for children’s developing cognitive skills. Specifically, I investigate the role of disagreement as a potential mechanism for cognitive development.

 

Roya Baharloo

I am interested in social cognition in childhood. I am fascinated by how children—even as early as infancy—reason and make sense of our complex social world. Further, I am curious about how this reasoning is shaped by our environment. My current research investigates how children conceptualize and make inferences about social groups. For example, when do children start to endorse common racial stereotypes? I hope my research sheds light on how we can reduce harmful intergroup phenomena, such as bias and prejudice.

 

Victoria Keating

As a graduate student working in the LCD Lab and the Mind and Society Lab, I am interested in how the people and cultures children are exposed to affect how they think about the world and others. My current research interests are focused on how children learn to think about those that are different from themselves. For instance, how does the way we communicate about race with children shape their concepts of their own race and others? Additionally, I am curious about the multiple ways we can think about diversity and its various impacts.

 

Sophie Regan

I am broadly interested in how children learn to communicate using language, especially how their burgeoning language skills interact with their developing understanding of the social world. My current research interests focus on the development of pragmatic reasoning, specifically how children learn to integrate information about specific speakers when interpreting and producing utterances. I am also interested in how language shapes the formation of different category representations and in adaptation and convention formation in conversation.

 

Collaborators

Hugh Rabagliati, Ph.D.

I am a Chancellor's Fellow in the Department of Psychology at the University of Edinburgh. I became interested in the science of child development as an undergraduate, spent many years training in developmental psychology in America, and returned to the UK to start the RabLab in 2013. I like hiking, pasta, and noodling around the ancient world with my classicist fiancée Monica. I dislike cutting my hair.

 

Nadya Vasilyeva, Ph.D.

I am a postdoctoral researcher working across three labs (Dr. Mahesh Srinivasan's Language and Cognitive Development Lab, Dr. Alison Gopnik's Cognitive Development Lab, and my primary advisor Dr. Tania Lombrozo's Concepts and Cognition Lab). In my research I explore connections between explanation, inductive inference, and causal reasoning. At the LCD lab, I am currently working on a project on contrast inference (exploring pragmatic inferences about unmentioned categories and attributes) and preparing a study examining structural explanations of speech injustice.

 

Audun Dahl, Ph.D.

I'm an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Santa Cruz. Most of my research investigates early moral development. I'm especially interested in how young children begin to help others and come to see it as wrong to harm others. Combining naturalistic and experimental methods, we are studying how these developments take place through social interactions in everyday life.

 

Yang Xu, Ph.D.

My research concerns the intersection of semantics, cognition and computation. I am particularly interested in how word meanings vary over time and across different languages, and a computational account of these phenomena that explains the underlying cognitive principles.

 

Alex Carstensen, Ph.D.

I’m a postdoctoral researcher in the Language and Cognition Lab at Stanford University. I completed my PhD in psychology at UC Berkeley and postdoctoral research at Radboud University in the Netherlands, focusing on the nature of category systems across languages: how these semantic structures vary, evolve, and influence thought. My current research examines the joint roles of language and culture in the development of abstract reasoning. I’m collaborating with the LCD lab to study contributions from language to children’s changing conceptualizations of space.

 

Katharine Tillman

I'm a graduate student from the Language and Development Lab at UC San Diego. I'm interested in how children acquire an adult-like concept of time, and roles that language and spatial cognition play in this process. I also study how kids learn abstract words in general, including time words, number words, and color words. Prior to starting my graduate work at UCSD, I received my BA in Psychology from NYU, where I conducted research on visual perception. Outside the lab, I enjoy creative writing, meditation, and trying to keep up with my 2-year-old daughter.

 

Andrew Bartnof

I studied English and Philosophy at Pitzer College, lived in Indonesia for a year as a Fulbright Scholar, and spent some time working in the maple forests in Québec. I then worked as a translator, and as a dubbing coordinator at a post-production facility. Now I am a doctoral student at Northwestern University. I love studying the processes that drive language acquisition!

 

Kelsey Moty

I graduated from UC Berkeley with a B.A. in Psychology and Linguistics and a minor in Polish Language and Literature, and am currently a graduate student at New York University. My research interests revolve around the following questions: 1) How does the language we speak influence how we think about and perceive the world? 2) How do children and adults learn language? and 3) How do children and adults form and revise categories? Currently, I am exploring how children use categories across different domains to make inferences, how they integrate information from multiple sources to form coherent categories, and how they make use of pragmatic information to learn language.

 

Rachel Jansen

I am a Ph.D. student in the Computational Cognitive Science Lab, advised by Tom Griffiths and Anna Rafferty. I am passionate about employing methods from machine learning and probabilistic modeling to the study of mathematics cognition and education. I am specifically interested in understanding more about how people learn math so that I may work towards improving both teaching practices and online educational tools. One branch of my research is centered around math learning in adults using an online algebra tutor developed by me and my advisors. I am using this tool to explore ways in which we can influence motivation and alter students' perceptions of mathematics, to ultimately remove emotional and psychological barriers so that more people may appreciate and excel at the subject. I am fortunate to be funded by the UC Berkeley Chancellor's Fellowship and NSF GRFP.

 

Ariel Starr, Ph.D.

I am currently an assistant professor at the University of Washington in the Department of Psychology. I was previously a postdoctoral researcher in the LCD Lab and in Dr. Silvia Bunge's Building Blocks of Cognition Lab. My research investigates how children create new knowledge from existing representations. I’m particularly interested in how language interacts with other cognitive abilities over development to give rise to uniquely human abilities. My lab uses behavioral and eye-tracking methodologies with infants and children to answer questions about the development of memory, language, numerical cognition, abstract concepts, and other topics.

 

Lena Luchkina

I am currently a postdoctoral researcher in Sandra Waxman's Infant and Child Development Center at Northwestern University. I was a visiting researcher in the LCD Lab and in Dr. Fei Xu’s Berkeley Early Learning Lab from fall 2018 - summer 2019. I received my PhD from Brown University in December 2018, doing my dissertation work with Drs. James Morgan and Dave Sobel. My research focuses on how children learn words and use their social knowledge to make inferences about word meanings. Aside from word learning, I study speech sound categorization in individuals with Autism Spectrum Disorders. As an undergraduate, I studied management and finance but later decided to become a cognitive scientist.

 

Estelle Berger

I am originally from Portland, Oregon and was previously a student in the Psychology Post-Baccalaureate Program and working in the LCD Lab as a research assistant. Currently, I am working in Ron Dahl's lab in the Institute of Human Development here at Berkeley. Before arriving at UC Berkeley, I attended Brown University and graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Urban Studies. Now, I am very interested in exploring how early life experiences and environments shape one’s sense of identity, cognitive development, and overall wellbeing. My current research focuses on how a child's home environment affects learning and attention.

Research Assistants

Hunter Cross

Hi! My name is Hunter and I’m a fourth year studying Music and Cognitive Science. The intersection of linguistics, cognitive science, and music is a very fascinating and nebulous subject that has always interested me. Particularly, I enjoy looking at the way children acquire language and are able to develop their understanding of concepts in their native language, and how that might be affected by environmental factors. In my free time, you can probably find me playing my saxophone on and off campus, or just hanging out with my friends at some boba shop!

 

Nicole Ru

Hello! I'm Nicole, a third year undergraduate at UC Berkeley majoring in Psychology and hopefully minoring in French. As a language enthusiast, I'm especially interested in how children acquire languages and how multilingual environments can affect the process. I’m also fascinated by the general relationship between language acquisition and cognitive development as a whole, and I’m really excited to learn more about these concepts through working with the LCD Lab. In my limited free time, I enjoy reading, writing novels, playing the clarinet, crocheting, taking long walks, and playing board games with my friends!

 

Prisciella Janet

Hello! My name is Prisciella, and I am a fourth-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley majoring in Psychology. As a multilingual international student, I have always been intrigued by the fascinating process of language acquisition. Additionally, I am excited to explore how different languages influence the cognitive and social identity of a particular person or society. I am super thrilled to be a part of the LCD Lab and learn about languages alongside others who share similar interests. Outside of the lab, I enjoy watching foreign TV shows, cooking savory dishes, and dancing or singing to upbeat pop songs. I am also a huge fan of Disney and Nintendo’s Mario and the Legend of Zelda series!

 

Aneesa Conine-Nakano

Hi! My name is Aneesa and I am a fourth-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley majoring in psychology! I am interested in how language and cognitive processes in childhood interplay with the development of prejudice and bias. Specifically, how do prevalent stereotypes about different social groups shape speech and social interactions? I hope that research in this area can lead to more informed and effective anti-bias interventions. In my free time, I enjoy hiking, film photography, and playing the ukelele!

 

Isabel Rangel

Hello! My name is Isabel and I am a fourth-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley majoring in psychology. I’m very fascinated by language acquisition and how it relates to development. I’m very ecstatic to be able to work at the lab in this area. Outside of the lab and completely separate from my major, you will catch me working at a local optometry. And in my free time, I love to go on hikes with my dog, paint, and garden.

 

Selina Rae Torres

HI! I’m Selina (she/her) and I’m a third-year Psychology major who’s hopefully minoring in Early Development and Learning Science in the future. I have always been interested in studying the brain — particularly interested in looking at how language is acquired and how language acquisition processes differ in individuals with developmental disabilities. I am also interested in looking at how developmental disabilities alter motor skills and hope to work as a Developmental Occupational Therapist in the future. In my spare time, I enjoy binge-watching TV shows and learning new recipes!

 

Aylen Bonel

Hello! My name is Aylen, and I'm a fourth-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley majoring in Psychology and minoring in Education. I love working with children and I'm captivated by the ability they have to acquire information so quickly. I'm very interested in learning how children imagine concepts and cultivate language. Also, I want to be more knowledgeable about how the differences in the environment affect development in children gradually. I'm very grateful to be part of the LCD Lab and I'm excited to gain more experience in the research process for children. In my free time, I enjoy painting, meditating, listening to music, watching nostalgic movies, and trying new things.

 

Ren Weber

Hi! My name is Ren and I’m a third-year Psychology student at UC Berkeley. I'm very excited to develop a deeper understanding of how children acquire language in the hopes that we can eventually learn more about why some children do not ever verbally communicate. I am especially interested in how childhood development relates to neurodiversity, and have been an intern at two companies that work with and empower people on the autism spectrum. In my free time, I enjoy writing poetry and fiction, oil painting, and graphic design.

 

Emily Chun

Hi! My name is Emily and I’m a third-year undergraduate at Berkeley majoring in cognitive science with an intended double major in data science. I am interested language acquisition, particularly in regards to how children learn the meanings of novel words. This will be my first semester working in the LCD Lab, and I’m excited to learn about cognitive research. In my spare time, I love playing casual video games and trying new places to eat with my friends.

 

Chelsea Jimenez

Hi! My name is Chelsea and I am a third-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley majoring in psychology! I am interested in becoming informed about how different social environments affect language development. In addition, I am also intrigued to learn more about how social abilities arise in children. I am very excited to have this opportunity to join the LCD lab and expand my knowledge about child developmental psychology! In my spare time, I love to explore new music, visit new cities, and go thrifting.

 

Lina Bae

Hello! My name is Lina and I am a third-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley majoring in Economics and potentially double-majoring with Cognitive Science. I have always been interested in cognitive development processes especially in babies and infants so I am thrilled to join this lab as a research assistant this semester! In my free time, I love to travel, go on food-journeys (finding good restaurants!) with friends, and zoom-call with friends and family!

 

Hannah Hermann

Hi y'all! I'm a third-year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley majoring in Psychology and Media Studies. I love looking at how language influences our cognition and helps shape how we see certain aspects of the world. Furthering this interest while working with children is a dream come true. Academically, I've enjoyed getting to take so many fascinating psychology classes including Dr. Srinivasan's very own Language Acquisition class! When I'm not holdup in the library you can find me studying at Strada or Milano sipping on a blended mocha.

 

Christian Burke

I am a fourth-year undergraduate majoring in Cognitive Science and French, with a minor in Global Poverty & Practice. I focus on gendered language in early childhood development and how social roles are taught, learned and perpetuated, beginning in this formative period. This will be my first semester at the LCD Lab and I feel very fortunate to be part of such an incredible team with so many diverse interests. Outside of the lab, I watch anime religiously, write poetry, sketch, paint and sculpt. I also love reading and discussing anthropology, sociology and philosophy.

 

Carol Chen

Hello! My name is Yihan Chen, and you can call me Carol. I am a second-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley majoring in Psychology. I have always been intrigued by how language development can reflect so much about the mysteries of the human mind, and I enjoy Professor Srinivasan’s Language Acquisition course very much, so I’m so excited to join the LCD Lab this semester! In my free time, I’m a huge fan of the Middle Earth, and I love dancing, watching figure skating, and musicals.

 

Bri Larson

Hi, my name is Bri and I’m a second-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley with a double major in psychology and sociology. My current goal is to pursue a clinical Ph.D. but developmental research is another interest of mine that I wanted to explore more this year. This will be my first semester in the lab and I’m very eager to learn from everyone! Outside of the lab, I might be working on a case for the student advocate’s office, working out, or cooking. I also love to bake and hike.

 

Stephanie Kwan

Hi there! I'm a fourth-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley majoring in Cognitive Science and Linguistics. I am interested in the underlying mechanisms of language acquisition and cognitive development in early childhood. I am especially excited to get hands on and learn more about how various social factors might impact children’s linguistic and cognitive development here at LCD lab! In my free time, you will probably find me hanging out with my friends in a boba shop near campus. I also enjoy trying new recipes from the internet, hiking and playing field hockey!

 

Yvonne Guu

Hello! My name is Yvonne (she/her) and I am a first-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley majoring in Cognitive Science, with minors in Data Science and Linguistics. I love learning new languages and familiarizing myself with other cultures in the world. This is my first semester working with the LCD and I couldn’t be more excited to learn more about the nuanced nature of language development. In my free time, I love visiting new cities, baking desserts, learning new songs on the ukulele, and taking long strolls around campus.

 

Eli Cruz

Hi! My name is Eli. I am a third-year undergraduate double majoring in psychology and linguistics. I am incredibly interested in the overlap between these two fields and how they play into child development. I come from a big family with about twelve (and counting) cousins under the age of twelve so I have been around children my whole life. I hope my work in the LCD lab will help me pursue my research interests relating to language acquisition and children's ability to understand conceptual language. In my free time I love going to the movies to watch the latest indie film or finding a nice, shady spot in the park to read.

 

Anirudh Kothapalli

Hey all! My name is Anirudh, and I am a third year majoring in Computer Science and minoring in Data Science. I personally have a fascination with cognitive development processes and am very excited to join LCD Lab this semester!! I will be focusing more on the Machine Learning aspect of figuring out word meanings based on context use. During my free time, I love to catch up on latest movies, TV shows and also explore various food places around me!

 

John Seo

Ahoy! My name is John and I'm a third year student studying Psychology. It's an awfully broad field, but I'm particularly interested in the development of biases and their application in the legal realm. I also love discussing the differing cultural approaches associated with individualist vs collectivist communities. In my free time, you can find me bouldering at Ironworks, experimenting with culinary fusions, and drinking tea.

 

Sooyeon Kim

Hello! My name is Sooyeon (she/her) and I am a second-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley majoring in Cognitive Science and an intended minor in BioEngineering. I am interested in learning about the mechanisms behind language acquisition and how social environments can impact cognitive development. This will be my first semester as a research assistant in the LCD lab and I am very excited to grow my knowledge in developmental psychology. In my free time, I enjoy painting, spending time outdoors, playing guitar, thrifting, and curating spotify playlists.

 

Priscilla Niayesh

Hello! My name is Priscilla and I am a second-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley majoring in psychology. I am passionate about learning how language acquisition develops within children, and also viewing how different social situations can affect children’s development. I am very excited to be a part of this lab and further my knowledge in the realm of developmental psychology! In my free time I love baking desserts, playing with my puppy, and spending time with my friends and family.

 

Jenny Brown

Hi! I’m a second-year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley majoring in statistics. I am interested in the intersection of statistics and the development of linguistic cognition. Specifically, how data can be used optimally to investigate the influence of social factors on linguistic development, interpretation and word choice and the effects of language on our outlook and ways of thinking. I am excited to explore these questions while working with children. In my free time, I love playing with my dog, cooking, and exploring new cafes!

 

Emily Wu

Hello! My name is Emily and I am a third-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley majoring in Cognitive Science. I really enjoy working with children and I'm excited to learn more about them and their development through research. This is my first semester in the LCD lab and I'm excited to be a part of and learn a lot from this team. In my free time, I enjoy walking along the beach, swimming, baking, and reading!

 

Fiona Mei

Hello! My name is Fiona and I am a second-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley majoring in psychology and data science. I am interested in how different language systems can affect people's performances and characteristics. I am excited to learn more in this field with LCD this semester! In my free time, I love traveling, listening to Kpop and dancing.

 

Enoch Du

Hello! I am Enoch Du, a first-year at UC Berkeley majoring in Nutritional Sciences - Toxicology. I am interested in psychological development with a combination of philosophy and religion. I enjoy practicing martial arts and Muay Thai, Wushu, and boxing in my free time. I also enjoy watching shows such as Avatar: The Last Air Bender and Mini-Ninjas.

 

Mishel Tsoy

Hello! I am a third-year international student from Kazakhstan majoring in Psychology and Biology at UC Berkeley. As a multilingual, I am interested in the process of language acquisition in children in various cultures. My native language is Russian and I am curious about whether the process of acquiring a language is universal or unique for each language and culture. My hobbies are tennis, photography and 3D-design!

 

Shaunelle Casey

Hello! I am a Post Baccalaureate researcher from the University or Cincinnati where I majored in Psychology. I am interested in the development of cognitive abilities in children. Specifically, I enjoy examining the way constant distractions such as technology inhibit their cognitive development. For fun, I enjoy going off the grid on hikes, surfing, and reading. I also love to run!

 

Katalina Peterson

Hi there! I'm a rising senior at Scripps College, where I will be completing an honors thesis in Linguistics and Spanish. I have always been interested in how children interact with their diverse linguistic environments to make sense of the world around them. I am especially interested in questions of bilingualism, cultural impacts of language use, and linguistic activism. I am excited to explore these interests from a developmental perspective with the lab this summer. In my off-time, I like to explore museums, curate new playlists, travel, and spend time with loved ones.

 

Emma Chang

Hi! My name is Emma and I am a third-year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley studying Cognitive Science. I love working with children and am interested in learning about human development and how children acquire such complex skills like language and other cognitive functions. I’m really looking forward to working in the LCD lab and am super grateful for this opportunity! In my free time, I enjoy reading, baking, watching TV, playing piano as well as playing badminton.

 

Jessica Ramos

Jessica Ramos was raised in Oakland, California, and alumni of OUSD schools. She is a first-gen Latina student and is in her second year at UC Berkeley. Jessica is an active organizer in her community focusing on education and was a voice for students. Jessica was a finalist for California Student Board Member and served on the Oakland Unified School District School Board. During her free time, she enjoys traveling and learning more about children.

 

Rachel Arakawa

Hi, my name is Rachel Arakawa and I am a second-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley majoring in Molecular and Cell Biology and minoring in Early Development and Learning Science. I really enjoy working with children and I am interested in how social interactions during their early years affect their cognitive and emotional development. I look forward to working with the LCD Lab and learning more about research in developmental psychology! In my free time I love hiking, playing basketball, going to the beach, and watching movies!