Lab Members


Dr. Susan Gelman
Heinz Werner Distinguished University Professor
Professor of Psychology and Linguistics
University of Michigan

Curriculum Vitae




Zach Schudson
Graduate Student
Zach received his BA in Neuroscience with a minor in Gender & Women’s Studies from Pomona College. He is currently in the joint PhD program in Psychology and Women’s Studies. His research focuses on essentialist beliefs about gender/sex and their links to prejudice against gender minorities. He is also broadly interested in essentialist and social constructionist beliefs about social categories.
When Zach was younger, he wanted to be a paleontologist. His favorite books were the Redwall series.
Federico Cella
Visiting ScholarFederico is a Ph.D. candidate at Vita-Salute San Raffaele University (Milan), where he received a B.A. in Philosophy and an M.Sc. in Philosophical Sciences. His research interests range from Philosophy of Language to Social Cognition. He investigates the relation between language and intersubjectivity – in particular, whether and how the use of generics in communication can affect our perception of the social reality.When he was younger, he wanted to be a guitar player. His favorite book was The Lord of the Rings.
Kristan Marchak
Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Curriculum VitaeKristan received a BA in Psychology and French Language and Literature and an MSc in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Alberta. She recently completed her PhD in Developmental Psychology at the University of British Columbia. Her research examines how children and adults reason about individuals over time and following change.When Kristan was younger, she wanted to be a doctor during the day and a ballerina at night. She also loved The Tale of Peter Rabbit by Beatrix Potter.
Shaylene Nancekivell
Visiting Scholar, Website
Shaylene received her B.A. in Anthropology from the University of Western Ontario, and her MASc./Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Waterloo. She is interested in the formation of children’s theories, and their expression through explanation. Shaylene is currently investigating adults’ and children’s theories about learning.When Shaylene was younger, she wanted to be a veterinarian, and she loved a book about the environment called Barbapapa’s Ark by Annette Tison even though it made her sad.
Rachel Fine
Graduate Student, Curriculum VitaeRachel received her B.A. in Psychology and Spanish from Elmhurst College. She served as the English Language Learner Special Education Specialist for the School City of East Chicago, IN and later became the lab manager for Dr. Sian Beilock at the University of Chicago.  She investigates how children and adults perceive non-discrete identities (for ex.being multiracial, gender non-conforming or a dual national) and how this relates to their beliefs about race, gender and nationality.When Rachel was young, she wanted to be an ambassador. Her favorite books were the Nancy Drew series.
Danielle Labotka
Graduate StudentDanielle received her B.A. in Comparative Human Development and Anthropology from the University of Chicago. She is now a graduate student in developmental psychology. Her research interest lie in children’s language development and its relation to social cognition.When Danielle was young, she wanted to be a justice of the Supreme Court, and one of her favorite books was Stellaluna.
Ariana Orvell
Graduate StudentAriana received her BA in Urban Studies and Psychology from Columbia University. She then taught Kindergarten and First Grade through TFA while receiving her MAT from the Relay Graduate School of Education. She is interested in how subtle shifts in language impact construal, meaning-making, and self-control. In another line of work, she studies how stereotypes influence individuals’ identities and motivation.When she was younger, Ariana wanted to be an international food critic. As a child, she enjoyed (and still enjoys) The Runaway Bunny and Harry Potter.


Nicole Cuneo
Lab ManagerNicole received her B.A. in Cognitive Science, on the Cognition and Language track from the University of Michigan. Her research interests vary, but for now she is focusing on children’s cognitive and linguistic development. She plans to eventually earn a Ph.D and become a Clinical Psychologist.As a child, Nicole wanted to be a teacher. Her favorite book was Strega Nona.