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Current Researchers

Faculty Sponsors

Kanwaljeet Anand


Dr. Anand is Professor of Pediatrics, Anesthesiology, Perioperative & Pain Medicine at Stanford University School of Medicine. His pioneering research was widely recognized by the Dr. Michael Blacow Award from British Paediatric Association (1986), Pediatric Resident Research Award from American Academy of Pediatrics (1992), the Nightingale Excellence Award (2016) from Stanford Children’s Healthcare, and an Honorary Doctorate from University of Örebro, Sweden (2019), among many other awards. His research team is examining biomarkers of resilience and risk in preschool children.

Penelope Eckert

The goal of my research is to understand the social meaning of linguistic variation. In order to do this, I pursue my sociolinguistic work in the context of in-depth ethnographic fieldwork, focusing on the relation between variation, linguistic style, social identity and social practice.

Michael Frank

Associate Professor

How do we learn to communicate using language? I study children's language learning and how it interacts with their developing understanding of the social world. I use behavioral experiments, computational tools, and novel measurement methods like large-scale web-based studies, eye-tracking, and head-mounted cameras.

Tobias Gerstenberg

Assistant Professor

I am interested in how people hold others responsible, how these judgments are grounded in causal representations of the world, and supported by counterfactual simulations.

Hyowon Gweon

Assistant Professor

I am broadly interested in the representations and inferential processes that underlie learning in social contexts. By using a combination of developmental, neuroimaging, computational, and clinical approaches, my current projects study social evaluations and pragmatic inferences in communicative contexts, neural development of Theory of Mind and its role in social learning, and various factors that affect our decision to teach others and to learn from others.

Ellen Markman


Ellen Markman’s research interests include the relationship between language and thought; early word learning; categorization and induction; theory of mind and pragmatics; implicit theories and conceptual change. She is the Lewis M. Terman Professor at Stanford. She was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 2003 and to the National Academy of Sciences in 2011. She is a recipient of the American Psychological Association’s Division 7 Outstanding Mentoring Award and the American Psychological Society’s William James Lifetime Achievement Award for Basic Research.

Steven Roberts

Assistant Professor

Steven Roberts is an assistant professor of psychology and a co-director of the Social Concepts Lab. He received his A.A. in Liberal Arts from the Borough of Manhattan Community College, B.S. in Applied Psychology from New York University, and M.S. and Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Michigan. Broadly, Steven is interested in how people think about group boundaries.


Carmelle Bareket-Shavit

Lab Manager, Social Concepts Lab
Faculty Sponsor: Steven Roberts

Carmelle received a B.S. in Cognitive Science from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She is interested in implicit biases, intergroup relations and moral reasoning especially in educational contexts. 

Stephen Sanders

Lab Manager, Social Learning Lab
Faculty Sponsor: Hyowon Gweon

I have a background in philosophy and history and an MS in social and cultural psychology. I am generally interested in the phylogeny and ontogeny of distinctly human cognition. I am particularly interested in the development of moral and epistemic intuitions, social learning, and inferential processing. I intend to bolster my background in cognitive developmental neuroscience, and social neuroscience, then pursue a PhD in cognitive science. I love learning and teaching!

Xi Jia Zhou

Research Coordinator, Social Learning Lab
Faculty Sponsor: Hyowon Gweon

I’m interested in human’s learning mechanisms, and I’m excited to see how we can build intelligent machines from understanding babies’ learnings. One day I hope that both the cognitive theories and AIs can be applied to help underprivileged children to learn better.

Mika Asaba

Faculty Sponsor: Hyowon Gweon

Who am I, and how do I know who I am? I am interested in how humans form and update representations of themselves and other people. The complex problem of when, what, and how information becomes incorporated into self- and person-knowledge is incredibly fascinating to me, and I am curious how these abstract representations motivate self-presentational behaviors.

Sophie Bridgers

6th-year PhD student, Psychology
Faculty Sponsor: Hyowon Gweon

I am currently interested in studying how children learn with others in different social contexts, and the implications for basic cognitive processes and learning outcomes. How might the presence of another mind affect the hypotheses a learner considers? Do the socio-dynamics of the environment impact a learner’s representation of the cost of information sharing? How, when, and why do children choose to teach others?

Alex Carstensen

Postdoctoral Scholar
Faculty Sponsor: Michael Frank

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.

Emily Lake

4th-year Ph.D. Student, Department of Linguistics
Faculty Sponsor: Penelope Eckert

I am a sociolinguist in the PhD program at Stanford University and a Ric Weiland Graduate Fellow. My dissertation work explores what socially meaningful linguistic variation looks like for preschool-age children and how social meanings and linguistic styles develop among this age cohort.

Bria Long

Postdoctoral Scholar
Faculty Sponsor: Michael Frank

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.

Pooja Paul

Postdoctoral Scholar
Faculty Sponsor: Michael Frank

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.

Grace Tam

Clinical Research Coordinator, Pain & Stress Neurobiology Lab
Faculty Sponsor: Kanwaljeet Anand

Grace graduated from Stanford University in 2017 with a B.S. in Biology. Her current work explores potential biomarkers of resilience and risk in preschool children. She hopes to pursue a career as a physician in the future in the field of child and adolescent medicine.

Natalia Vélez

6th-year PhD student, Psychology
Faculty Sponsor: Hyowon Gweon

Humans are efficient and adaptable learners, but we don't have to learn everything from scratch – some tasks, such as learning to drive a car or finding foods that are safe to eat, would be difficult, even dangerous, to do without gathering information from other people. My research explores how children and adults exploit the rich structure of the social world to decide when to learn from others and whom to learn from.

Yang Wu

Postdoctoral Scholar
Faculty Sponsor: Hyowon Gweon

Emotional cues are abundant in our daily lives. How do young children make sense of these cues? In my research, I study how infants and children use observed emotional signals to reason about the unknown world and to guide their learning and exploration. These abilities, I propose, are supported by an intuitive theory of emotion that is connected to children’s knowledge of the physical and social world broadly. The work spans methods from infant looking time measures to computational models. It advances our understanding of the remarkable human capacities to learn in social contexts, and bridges gaps across disciplines including developmental, cognitive and affective sciences.

Marianna Zhang

2nd-year PhD student, Psychology
Faculty Sponsor: Ellen Markman

I'm a graduate student in developmental psychology at Stanford University. I'm broadly interested in our representations of categories, and how those representations interface with language over the course of development. Other interests of mine include metaphor, non-literal language, and pragmatics, as well as how we usually think about traditional philosophical problems about object identity and personal identity.