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

Grace Horton

Hello and welcome! I’m a recent Berkeley graduate and have been working with the Language and Cognitive Development lab for many years as a research apprentice—now I'm managing it! I find language development in children fascinating and unique, and love learning about how children navigate word polysemy—when words have multiple distinct meanings—as well as how different types of speech input can affect speech development in young children. 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.

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.

 

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!

 

Jayde Barber

Hi there! My name is Jayde and I am a psychology major and sociology minor at Berkeley City College (with hopes to transfer to UC Berkeley in the near future!). I have been very fascinated by childhood cognitive development for a while as I have experience working with children through babysitting, assistant teaching, and working as a behavior specialist for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder. I began working with the LCD lab in fall of 2020 and have thoroughly enjoyed learning so much about the research process and the different aspects of a child’s life that contribute to their language development. Outside of work and school, I enjoy working on a mental health podcast that I host, going on road trips and hikes, and doing yoga!

 

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!

 

Maayan Ziv

Hi there! I am a fourth year psychology major at Barnard College, but Berkeley is home for me. I am interested in how children’s social environments and access to resources impact cognitive development, and particularly, the influences of ACES on early development. This is my second semester working in the lab, and I am enjoying learning about how children develop social attitudes through language. In my free time, I love to cook, swim, and spend time outdoors!

 

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.