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

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.


Marina Ortega Andrés, Ph.D.

I am a postdoctoral researcher from the Basque Government at the University of the Basque Country (UPV/EHU) and a visitor researcher at the Department of Psychology in the University of California. I work on polysemy and language development with Dr. Mahesh Srinivasan. I also work at the Lindy Lab on language processing in the ASC population. I finished my PhD in June 2020 at the University of the Basque Country. My thesis was about theoretical issues on polysemy and copredication. I am also interested in other fields like Feminist Philosophy, Social Identity, and Epistemic Injustice.

Graduate Students

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.


Nina Schoener

My primary interest lies in exploring the many different factors that influence word learning, particularly in early childhood. Specifically, I’m curious about how aspects of childrens’ cultural, linguistic, social, and economic environments interact to facilitate language acquisition. My research also focuses on identifying the specific learning mechanisms that underlie the acquisition of semantic knowledge, in order to better understand the types of input that foster word learning.



Monica Ellwood-Lowe, Ph.D.

I am currently a postdoctoral researcher in The Changing Brain Lab at the University of Pennsylvania, but recently finished my PhD, 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 was generously supported by the NSF GRFP and the UC Berkeley Chancellor's Fellowship.


Ruthe Foushee, Ph.D.

I am currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and Director of the Center for Human Language & Development at The New School for Social Research, but was a former graduate student in the LCD Lab as well as the Berkeley Early Learning Lab.


Ye Rang Park, Ph.D.

I am currently a senior research and policy associate at the Early Childhood Education Institute at The University of Oklahoma, Tulsa, but was 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.


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.


Ny Vasil, Ph.D.

I am currently an assistant professor in the department of psychology at CSU East Bay, but was 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.


Katharine Tillman, Ph.D.

I'm currently an assistant professor of psychology at The University of Texas at Austin. 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.


Rachel Jansen, Ph.D.

I am currently a researcher at NASA Ames Researcher Center, but was 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.


Elena Luchkina, Ph.D.

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.


Aneesa Conine-Nakano

I'm the lab manager of the Social Learning Lab at Stanford University. I completed my B.A. in Psychology at UC Berkeley in 2022, and my work with the LCD lab investigates how language and cognitive processes in childhood interplay with the development of stereotypes. I am interested in how children use cues, such as emotion and language, to make inferences about people and their environment. In my free time, I enjoy hiking and photography!


Chelsea Jimenez

Hi! My name is Chelsea and I am a recent psychology UC Berkeley graduate! 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.

Research Assistants

Rachel Skwersky

Hi! My name is Rachel (she/her) and I am a third-year undergraduate student majoring in cognitive science pursuing a double minor in linguistics and data science. I am fascinated by language acquisition from a humanistic and computational perspective, and my focus is currently on how sign language phonology and semantics influence vocabulary development. This is my first semester with the LCD and I'm so excited to grow my knowledge and work with other passionate individuals. In my free time, I love reading on the beach and going to cafes.


Ananya Sharma

Hi! I’m Ananya. I’m a fourth year undergraduate majoring in Psychology and Data Science. I am interested in how social contexts influence the cognitive development of individuals, particularly children. I am also highly interested in research that focuses on populations which don’t fall into the WEIRD category. I am excited to learn more about Cognitive Development, particularly focusing on the Indian population during my time at LCD. In my spare time, I enjoy creative writing, reading and playing badminton.


Mitchell Chan

Hello all! My name is Mitchell and I am a fourth-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley majoring in Psychology. My hope is to eventually be working in the clinical setting, although many of my interests lie in studying how children develop language, and how this may provide some insight into effective language learning strategies in adults. This is my first semester being a part of the LCD lab and I'm super excited to learn as much as I can! When not swamped with school, I love to dance, learn languages, and rock climb!


Harry Cox

My name is Harry Cox, and I am from Gold Coast, Australia, and I'm a recent UC Berkeley Cognitive Science graduate. I have a fascination into developmental psychology and language acquisition, particularly second language acquisition/ learning, and how current research can be used to maximise rates of retention and use of the language. I also am intrigued into how our acquisition and use of language influence our view of the world. In my spare time I love cooking, surfing, and fishing.


Sini Patra

Hi! My name is Sini and I'm a second year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley majoring in Cognitive Science and Psychology. I am excited to work at the LCD lab and learn more about linguistic and cognitive development. I have always been really intrigued by the brain, which is technically just a blob of flesh but also, the mastermind behind everything we see today, from simple ancient stone tools to complex modern-day AI computational systems. I mostly enjoy reading fantasy books and watching TV in my free time. I am very passionate about feminism; I love ice cream; I hate bananas; and I can solve the 3x3, 4x4, and 5x5 rubik's cubes 🙂


Katalina Peterson

My name is Kat and I recently graduated from Scripps College with a B.A. in Linguistics and Spanish. I am interested in the environmental factors that affect language and cognitive development in children, and have been working on a project with Monica in the LCD lab that explores this topic. I am passionate about the accessibility of academic research to general audiences, so I am excited to work this summer on a blog series that includes participants' perspectives. I look forward to beginning my graduate studies in Speech Language Pathology in Fall 2024.


Rachel Li

Hello! My name is Rachel (she/her), and I am a second-year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley! I’m majoring in Cognitive Science and intend to minor in Data Science. I am strongly interested in research on cognitive development through social interactions of external and internal influences, specifically children! I am super excited to work alongside passionate researchers at the LCD Lab, where I can expand my curiosities and knowledge! In my free time, I love to Facetime with my cat, crochet stuff animals, and play tennis!


Jordan Bermender

Hello! My name is Jordan (he/him) and I am a third year undergraduate majoring in Psychology with a minor in Disability Studies. I am personally very interested in studying how disability intersects with psychology, and am fascinated by language and communication differences that may be present between disabled and abled populations. This is my first semester with LCD and I'm very excited to be joining this team. In my free time, I enjoy listening to music and spoiling my 2 year old cat.


Ayah Aldajani

Hi! My name is Ayah (she/her) and I am a third-year at Berkeley majoring in Psychology and Social Welfare while minoring in Education. I’m also a preschool teacher, so I spend most of my time working with very young children. Since I am Palestinian, I grew up speaking English and 2 dialects of Arabic. Mostly, I am interested in research on socioemotional development in early childhood, but ultimately I hope to pursue graduate school and become a school psychologist. I am super excited to work alongside and learn from the researchers at the LCD lab! In my free time, I enjoy crocheting, printmaking, and sewing.


Thresia Jijen Vazhaeparambil

Hello! My name is Thresia (she/her), and I am a second-year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley double majoring in Psychology and Legal Studies! I'm incredibly interested in expanding my knowledge about cognitive development in children and how their social dynamics, family life, and surrounding environment affect them, but I am also fascinated with learning about the intersection between psychology and law as a whole. I am so excited to be a part of the LCD lab and work alongside and learn from the other passionate researchers on the team! In my free time, I love to hang out with my friends, watch cheesy rom coms, and listen to music!


Nishad Kalluri

Hello! My name is Nishad, and I am a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Political Economy. Along with my studies, I also work as a tennis coach, specifically with junior players who compete in tournaments. I believe that working with the LCD lab will help me gain a deeper understanding of children's cognitive development, which I can use to improve as a coach. In my free time, I enjoy going on road trips and exploring national parks.


Ari Harkavy

Hi! My name is Ari and I am a second-year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley majoring in Nutritional Sciences and pursuing a minor in Health and Wellness. I'm eager to explore how socioeconomic status impacts the relationships between children and parents, and how that affects a child's ability to be successful in academic settings. I am so excited to be a part of the LCD lab and to learn from inquisitive and creative researchers. In my free time, I love to dance, read, hike, and spend time with family and friends!


Nino Shen

Hi! I'm Nino. I'm a third-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley majoring in Psychology and Data Science. I'm interested in the design of context-aware language models to explore how they can adapt to linguistic abilities and cognitive processes across different developmental stages. This is my first semester with LCD and I'm super excited to meet and work with the team. In my spare time, I love going to cafes and jamming with my band.


Helen Jin

Hi! I'm a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Molecular and Cellular Biology and Psychology. As an international student, I grew up surrounded by a multitude of languages and cultures, so I was always curious about how people might think and/or feel differently depending on what language they speak! I would love to discover more about how our cognitive and social skills adapt to surrounding linguistic environments and subsequently, how people's expression of themselves develops over their lifetime. If not studying at a cafe, I'll be playing volleyball, going to the gym, baking, or finding things to do with my friends! Excited to join the LCD Lab!


Nayoon Bae

Hi! My name is Nayoon, and I am a first-year undergraduate student majoring in Psychology. I am particularly interested in cognitive development, language acquisition, and the workings of the human brain and its impact on our daily lives. In my free time, I love to go stargazing, ice skating, and bowling with my friends. I am beyond excited to learn and contribute to the LCD lab!


Emily Zhuo

Hi! My name is Emily (she/her), and I am a third-year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley majoring in Psychology with minors in Clinical Psychology and Data Science. I'm interested in studying how socioeconomic status and family origin can affect a child's emotional well-being and development. I am also interested in how being multilingual can affect their cognitive development. During my free time, I love to dance, try out new restaurants with friends, listen to music, and do my own acrylic nails. This is my first semester with LCD and I am excited to learn and contribute to the lab!


Somara Oliva

Hello! My name is Somara Oliva (she/her). I am a second-year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley, intending to major in Psychology and Social Welfare. My personal experiences have led me to develop a fascination in further investigating how socioeconomic status plays a role in children’s cognitive, social, and language development. I am passionate about learning how this may shape a child’s future and personality. Some things I enjoy most are visiting my family in El Salvador, building LEGOS, going on road trips, and sharing meals with friends. I am very excited to be part of the LCD Lab, and I look forward to expanding my knowledge and connecting with others!


Ellie Miller

Hello! My name is Ellie, and I am a fourth-year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley majoring in Psychology with a minor in History. I am interested in researching how cognition and emotion can interact to shape developmental trajectories and influence overall well-being in children. This is my first semester with the LCD Lab, and I look forward to learning from such a wonderful group of researchers. Outside of my studies, I spend my time reading, making floral arrangements, riding horses, and hanging out with my cats.


Asim Wahab

Hi! I'm Asim, a third-year undergraduate at UC Berkeley, double majoring in Psychology and Molecular and Cell Biology. My research interest lies in unraveling the intricate interplay of social, cultural, and economic factors and their profound impact on children's language and cognitive development. I'm keen to explore how these factors influence intergenerational poverty transmission and shape attitudes and behaviors. I'm thrilled to be part of the LCD Lab and look forward to working alongside passionate individuals. In my spare time, you'll find me enjoying a game of basketball, delving into psychology literature, and cherishing quality moments with my niece.


Siclali Morales-Cruz

Hi! My name is Siclali (She/her), and I am a third-year undergraduate student at UC Berkeley majoring in Psychology and Social Welfare. I am passionate about understanding how socioeconomic status, culture, immigrant parental status, and language expressions influence different facets of children's developmental trajectories. I'm particularly interested in exploring how these factors impose various aspects of patterns or coping mechanisms, especially in children from disadvantaged backgrounds. I am thrilled to join the LCD lab and collaborate and learn from fellow researchers who share my passion for understanding child development! In my free time, I love to explore public transportation, make jewelry, and cook with friends!