Retreat 2014

Language and Cognition Lab Fall 2018

Principal Investigator

baby Mike
Michael C. Frank (blog, twitter)
Mike did his undergraduate degree at Stanford in Symbolic Systems and his PhD work at MIT. He is broadly interested in the relationship between language and cognition, especially as it relates to children's early language development.


Abdellah Fourtassi
Abdellah did his undergraduate work at Ecole Polytechnique and his graduate work at Ecole Normale Superieure in Paris, France. He is interested in early word learning and how it relates to the broad context of cognitive development.
Bria Long
Bria did her undergraduate work at Stanford, and is happy to be back on campus. She spent two years at École Normale Supérieure before doing her graduate work at Harvard University. She is broadly interested in the interface between visual perception and cognition – how do we know a cup is a “cup”, and how does a baby learn what is – and what isn’t – a cup? Currently, she’s exploring if early word learning impacts how infants represent object categories.
Manuel Bohn
Manuel studied Psychology at the University of Vienna and New York University. He did his PhD at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig, Germany. He’s interested in the psychological processes enabling human communication. Before coming to Stanford, he studied how these processes enable non-verbal communication in human children and great apes. Now he is looking at how they allow children to learn language.
Alex Carstensen
Alex did her 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. Her current research examines the roles of language and culture in children’s early reasoning about abstract ideas like causes, relations, and space.
Judith Fan
I received my PhD in cognitive psychology from Princeton University in 2016, and my AB in neurobiology from Harvard College in 2010. My research seeks to understand the tools we have discovered to amplify human cognition. As a central case study, my current work seeks to understand how producing graphical representations supports communication and learning. This domain encompasses behaviors from informal sketching to formal scientific visualization, and its applications to education, user interface design, and assistive technologies. After spending the 2018-2019 academic year here at Stanford, I will be starting my own lab in the UC San Diego Department of Psychology.
Pooja Paul
Pooja Paul received her B.A. in Linguistics and Cognitive Science from Pitzer College, and in 2018 she received her Ph.D in Linguistics from Harvard University, along with a secondary degree in Mind/Brain/Behavior. Her work investigates the interface between the compositional machinery of language and non-linguistic domains of cognition in the human mind (eg. social, event, quantitative reasoning). Her approach combines insights and methodologies from psycholinguistics, developmental psychology, and linguistic theory.
Yang Wu
Yang received her B.S. degree in Psychology from Peking University in 2012, and her Ph.D. degree in Cognitive Science from MIT in 2018. She is interested in how infants and children reason about others’ emotional displays. She is currently looking at how such ability supports their language acquisition and their understanding of the world broadly.

Graduate Students

Erica Yoon
Erica completed a B.A.Sc. in Cognitive Science at McGill University. She is currently interested in looking at adults' and children's understanding and production of polite speech.
Ben Peloquin
Ben graduated with B.A. in Cognitive Psychology from Pitzer College before completing an M.S. in Symbolic Systems at Stanford. Before returning to Stanford for his PhD, Ben worked as a Machine Learning Engineer at Roam Analytics implementing NLP systems for medical data. Ben is primarily interested two questions: (1) What is the impact of language on cognition? (2) What is the impact of cognition on language? While the first question is concerned with *representation* -- how the information encoded in language influences the way we understand and perceive the world, the second is concerned with *design* -- how distributional properties found in natural languages emerge from local interactions between speakers and listeners. He focuses on computational approaches to these questions using tools from Bayesian cognitive modeling, agent-based simulation, and machine learning.

Research Staff

George Kachergis
George is a Research Scientist in the Language and Cognition Lab. He did his undergraduate work in Computer Science and Cognitive Studies at Carleton College, and then his PhD in Cognitive Science and Psychology at Indiana University on modeling word learning. After a postdoc at Leiden University teaching robots how to make pancakes and studying human learning of sequential action, he did a postdoc at New York University with Todd Gureckis and Marjorie Rhodes looking at how children actively select information and acquire concepts. After a stint teaching in the AI Department at Radboud University and doing research in the Donders Institute, he is excited to again be studying aspects of early language learning, including how infants actively structure their learning environment guided by curiosity and nascent knowledge.
Benny deMayo
Benny is the current lab manager. He received his B.A. in Psychology from Stanford University, where he did his senior thesis in the Language and Cognition Lab. He is interested in how children adjust their social interactions to guide their own learning.
Vivian Zhang
Vivian graduated from UC San Diego majoring in Cognitive Science June 2018, and joined the lab as a Research Coordinator. She is interested in how social interactions with caregivers shape infant's language development, and wants to learn computational approaches to study that.
Sabina Zacco
Sabina is in her final year of undergrad at Santa Clara University, where she is a student in the disciplines of psychology, public health, and Italian language. Her research interests broadly include bilingualism and its impact on early cognitive development, though she also is interested in the neurological underpinnings of attentional disorders in young children.
Megan Merrick
Megan graduated with a B.A. in Interdisciplinary Studies (Cognitive Development & Society) from UC Berkeley in 2018. During her undergrad career she served as research assistant in the Language and Cognitive Development Lab, as well as the Language and Development lab at UC San Diego. She enjoys research in language development but is also interested in Educational Psychology. Megan’s honors thesis was a cross cultural analysis of how young elementary school children in California and England judge their peers based on academic intelligence. She hopes to use these research experiences to pursue a PhD in Educational Psychology.

Lab Alums

  • Kyle MacDonald (Graduate Student) - Postdoctoral Scholar, UCLA
  • Tom Hardwicke (Postdoctoral Scholar) - Postdoctoral Scholar, Meta-Research Innovation Center, Charité – Universitätsmedizin Berlin
  • Alessandro Sanchez (Research Assistant) - Software Engineer, Atomwise
  • Emily Hembacher (Postdoctoral Scholar) - Data Scientist, Nextdoor
  • Danielle Kellier (Research Assistant) - Medical Student, University of Pennsylvania
  • Gabe Doyle (Postdoctoral Scholar) - Assistant Professor, San Diego State University
  • Veronica Cristiano (Research Assistant) - Grad student, Gallaudet University
  • Molly Lewis (Graduate Student) - Postdoctoral scholar, University of Chicago
  • Dan Yurovsky (Postdoctoral Fellow) - Assistant Professor, University of Chicago
  • Rose Schneider (Research Assistant) - Grad student, UC San Diego
  • Mika Braginsky (Research Assistant) - Grad student, MIT
  • Ann Nordmeyer (Graduate Student) - Assistant Professor, Southern New Hampshire University
  • Sarah James (Research Assistant)
  • Andrew Weaver (Research Assistant)
  • Alexandra Horowitz (Graduate Student) - UI Researcher, Facebook
  • Ally Kraus (Research Assistant) - Analyst, Education Elements
  • Janelle Klaas (Research Assistant)
  • Theresa Hennings (Research Assistant) - Grad student, University of Washington
  • Stephan Meylan (Research Assistant) - Grad student, UC Berkeley
  • Chigusa Kurumada (Graduate Student) - Assistant Professor, University of Rochester
  • Marisa Casillas (Graduate Student) - Junior Investigator, Max Planck Institute for Psycholinguistics, Nijmegen
  • Alex Stiller-Shulman (Master's Student) - Assistant Professor, San Diego Miramar College

Former Honors Students

  • Allison Dods (2016) - Symbolic Systems
  • Sarah Lucy Case (2015) - Human Biology
  • Rachel Chung (2015) - Science, Technology, and Society
  • Nicholas Moores (2015) - Linguistics
  • Elise Sugarman (2014) - Symbolic Systems
  • Laura Soriano (2014) - Human Biology
  • Kaia Simmons (2013) - Human Biology
  • Stephanie Muscat (2013) - Human Biology
  • Rebecca Chung (2012) - Symbolic Systems