Faculty Members

Dr. Susan Gelman          Conceptual Development Lab

Susan Gelman studies concepts and language in young children. She is especially interested in how children organize their experience into categories, how categories guide children’s reasoning, how children discover and reason about non-obvious aspects of the world, and the role of language in these processes.

Dr. Ioulia Kovelman          Language and Literacy Lab

Dr. Kovelman is a developmental cognitive neuroscientist, and an Associate Professor of Psychology, interested in how bilingual children learn language and literacy. Her research program includes both behavioral as well as brain imaging studies of language and literacy acquisition, in typically developing children, as well as children with learning difficulties. Her lab uses fNIRS (functional near-infrared spectroscopy) neuroimaging for a lot of the research projects.

Dr. Felix Warneken          Social Minds Lab

Felix Warneken studies the origins of human social behavior, with a focus on the development and evolution of cooperation and morality. He uses developmental and cross-cultural studies with children, as well as comparative studies with nonhuman apes.


Dr. Henry Wellman          Infant Cognition Project

Henry Wellman researches how children understand their own and others’ desires, intentions, thoughts, knowledge and ideas—their theories of mind. Theory of mind is a large part of children’s lives, influencing their social interactions, well-being, transition to school, understanding of and play with animals and understanding of and interaction with smart technology and social robots. Interns in my lab will work on projects researching several of these topics, including research with children, robots and dogs.

Graduate Students & Postdoctoral Fellows

Rachel FineConceptual Development Lab

Rachel 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.

Danielle LabotkaConceptual Development Lab

Danielle received her B.A. in Comparative Human Development and Anthropology at the University of Chicago. While she was there, she worked in Dr. Katherine Kinzler’s Development of Social Cognition Lab. Her current research focuses on how communication between two different groups can impact their reasoning about the other and their social group. In particular, she is exploring how native speakers’ speech towards non-native speakers can impact both parties’ evaluations of each other, their respective social groups, and the situation.

Dr. Giulia ElliConceptual Development Lab

Giulia completed her undergraduate studies in Italy, receiving her BA in Psychology from the University of Milano – Bicocca and her MSc in Cognitive Science jointly from the University of Trento and the International School for Advanced Studies. She completed her PhD in Psychological and Brain Sciences at Johns Hopkins University working with Dr. Bedny and Dr. Landau. Giulia is interested in how our sensory, linguistic, and social experiences shape what we know about the world – the things and people living in it and the events they partake in – and how this knowledge is organized in the mind and brain. 

Ella SimmonsConceptual Development Lab

Ella received her B.A. in Psychology from UC Berkeley in 2019. She is now a graduate student in Developmental Psychology interested in examining how children learn about the world around them, and how they organize the information they uncover. When she was younger she wanted to be a student for the rest of her life. Her favorite book as a child was Good Night, Gorilla.

Rachel EgglestonLanguage and Literacy Lab

Rachel Eggleston is a graduate student in the Combined Program in Education and Psychology. She earned a B.A. in Neuroscience from Dartmouth College and an M.A. in Urban Education Policy from Brown University. Before joining the Language and Literacy Lab, Rachel taught high school science and Special Education in Providence, RI and Washington, DC. Her research focuses on language and reading development in bilingual youth with reading disabilities.

Xin SunLanguage and Literacy Lab

Xin is a graduate student in the Combined Program in Education and Psychology at UM. She received her Bachelor in Psychology from Beijing Normal University in 2016. She is broadly interested in learning processes and language and literacy.


Chi Lin YuLanguage and Literacy Lab and Infant Cognition Project

Chi-Lin is a graduate student in the Developmental Area in Psychology. He focuses on social cognition in children and adults via behavioral experiments, neuroimaging techniques, and computational modeling. Specific topics include the underlying mechanism of Theory of Mind (ToM), the development of ToM, how ToM becomes dysfunction in autism as well as deaf populations, how language influences ToM, and also designing advanced data analyses methods to answer all the aforementioned theoretical questions.

Young-eun LeeSocial Minds Lab
personal website

Young-eun is a PhD student in Developmental Psychology at the University of Michigan. She got her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Yonsei University, South Korea. Prior to joining UM, she received her master’s degrees in Psychology from Yonsei University and Harvard University. Young-eun studies the development of altruistic punishment in children. She is particularly interested in children’s enforcement of social norms (e.g., fairness norms) and its underlying mechanisms.

Sarah Probst Social Minds Lab
personal website

Sarah is a PhD student at the University of Michigan. She received her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2017 and then worked as project coordinator of the Social Development Lab at the University at Buffalo. Currently she is studying the cognitive and affective mechanisms influencing helping behaviors in infants and toddlers using novel eye-tracking methodology.

Rachna ReddyInfant Cognition Project
personal website

Rachna received her B.A. in Evolutionary Anthropology from Duke University. She is interested in the emotional and cognitive underpinnings of social relationships, their function, and how they change over time and at boundaries of social life. Current projects include research on social interactions between adolescent chimpanzees living in the wild at Ngogo in Kibale National Park, Uganda, and social interactions between young children and animals living here in Ann Arbor. Projects this summer will focus on how children think feel, and understand the minds of pet dogs, and how they form relationships with them.

Lab Managers

Caiqin ZhouSocial Minds Lab

Caiqin received her BA in Psychology and Economics from Wellesley College. She is broadly interested in how children learn about both the self and the world through different social interactions. Her current project investigates the cognitive mechanisms underlying reciprocity-based cooperation in children.

Mihir PyakuryalSocial Minds Lab

Mihir received his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Dickinson College and has studied stigma and its effects on smoking behavior. He was also a summer research assistant for the Social Minds Lab in 2018, where he studied development of cooperation in children. Mihir is interested in social cognition, cooperation and metacognition in primates. His current project examines if children are sensitive to different types of intentions behind other people’s prosocial behavior.

Jessica KimLanguage and Literacy Lab

Jessica is the current lab manager for the fNIRS laboratory. She received her Bachelor’s Degree in Information in 2017 and has experience in data analysis and visualization. She currently assists researchers in data collection and data analysis in fNIRS.

Valerie Umscheid– Conceptual Development Lab

Valerie received her B.A. in Cognitive Science and Educational Studies from Carleton College. Her research interests vary, but she has focused on children’s cognitive and educational development.