People

 

Our research is directed by Lindsey Richland in collaboration with graduate and undergraduate researchers

Lindsey Richland is an Associate Professor in the Department of Comparative Human Development and the Committee on Education at the University of Chicago. Dr. Richland investigates children's memory and analytical reasoning development.  Much of her work explores children's emergent ability to think about relationships and make inferences such as through metaphor and analogy.  Dr. Richland also studies everyday instruction in the US and internationally to develop practice-relevant tools grounded in theory for improving student outcomes in mathematics and science domains.  A CAREER award from the National Science Foundation as well as grants from the Institute of Education Sciences and the Office of Naval Research support her work. In 2008, she was awarded a National Academy of Education and Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. Dr. Richland received her Ph.D in Developmental Psychology and Cognitive Science from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2003. Curriculum Vitae

Carey DeMichelis received her MA in Social Science from the University of Chicago in 2011 and her BA in Psychology from the University of Colorado in 2010. She is currently pursuing her PhD in Developmental Psychology and Education at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education at the University of Toronto. Her doctorate research focuses on moral development, personal identity development, and resiliency in hospitalized children. Carey managed Dr. Richland’s Learning Lab at the University of Chicago from 2011-2013 where she coordinated research on analogical reasoning and executive function in math and science classrooms.  While at Chicago, she also worked with Dr. Jean Decety’s Social Cognitive neuroscience lab on the development of moral decision-making, empathy, and prosocial behavior across cultures. 

Rebecca Frausel is a sixth-year PhD student in the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. Her research interests include narrative and cognitive development, life story and narrative identity, autobiographical memory, parent-child interactions, narrative in educational contexts, and the development of higher-order thinking. She received her BA from the University of Colorado Boulder in 2011, graduating Summa cum Laude in both Psychology and English Literature, with a minor in Linguistics and a certificate in Cognitive Science. Her undergraduate research at CU-Boulder focused on differences in language acquisition in late-talking versus early-talking toddlers.

Lily Ye is a fifth-year PhD student in the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. She is interested in language socialization, institutional discourses, public education, and mixed-methods research. Her undergraduate studies were based in linguistic anthropology and culminated in an examination of the discourse of climate skepticism. She graduated from the University of Chicago in 2012 with an AB in linguistics.

Post Doctoral Scholars and

Graduate Students

Research Assistants

Janice Hansen, completed her doctorate at the University of California, Irvine in 2013. Janice is interested in the use of visual representations in science instruction. In particular, Janice investigates how learners draw connections across conceptually connected visual representations. Additionally, she has conducted research into how learners make sense of science representations in informal environments. Janice graduated with a Bachelor of Social Work degree at Arizona State University. She has also holds Master of Arts degrees in Educational Psychology from California State University Long Beach, and in Education from the University of California, Irvine.

Sean Kao received his PhD in Education from the University of California, Irvine in 2013.  His research examines strategies for promoting analogical transfer, and long-term effects of alternative feedback styles. As a graduate student, Sean worked with Lindsey Richland on testing effects, analogy, and the TIMSS-R video study. As a doctoral student, Sean’s first year project with Dr. Lindsey Richland examined the benefits of failing a test. He found that, contrary to common belief, trying and failing a test can be beneficial for students’ future learning at the cognitive level. Findings indicate that the mere act of taking a test creates a mental pathway that can enhance the impact of upcoming learning events. He graduated from the University of California, Irvine, in 2006 with a BA in Psychology and Social Behavior and a minor in Education.  As an undergraduate student, Sean worked with children with ADHD in Dr. Carol Whalen's lab.

Learning Lab Alumni

Nina Simms was a post-doctoral scholar in the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. She is interested in how children and adults learn and reason about relational information. Her research investigates how executive functions, prior experience and knowledge, and representational tools like relational language contribute to the development of relational thinking. With Dr. Lindsey Richland, she explored how these issues inform mathematics education. Nina graduated from the University of Michigan in 2004 with a BA in Psychology and Linguistics and received her PhD in Cognitive Psychology from Northwestern University in 2013, where she worked with Dr. Dedre Gentner.  Nina is currently working as a post-doctoral scholar at Northwestern University.

Emily Lyons is a fifth-year PhD student in the department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. Her research interests include science education, stereotype threat, testing anxiety, and motivational processes underlying learning. Her undergraduate studies were in Biology. After graduating from Cornell University in 2009, she taught science in New Orleans and New York City public schools.  Her teaching experience formed the basis of her current research interests.

Tyler Warner is a fourth-year undergraduate at the University of Chicago who is pursuing a BA in Psychology with Honors. He has been in the lab for three years, and is currently conducting a thesis project interested in exploring differences in perception and gender in elementary math education. He then plans on pursuing a PhD in Clinical Psychology, with interest in studying and improving the educational and life outcomes of at-risk youth.

Leah Hirschfeld received her A.B. in Psychology with honors from the University of Chicago in 2015. Her honor’s thesis explored the relationship between parental scaffolding and children’s creativity through analogical reasoning. Leah managed Dr. Richland’s Learning Lab at the University of Chicago from 2013-1015. She currently works as a Management Trainee on the executive track at McMaster-Carr in New Jersey.

Kreshnik Begolli received his PhD in Education from the University of California, Irvine in 2014. Motivated to understand how humans learn and impart knowledge and the desire to advance science and education, Kreshnik's research arena alternates between the laboratory and the classroom. By blurring the line between the two, Kreshnik’s research draws primarily from cognitive research in analogical reasoning. As an IES postdoctoral fellow at Temple he hopes to reveal the links between analogy making, math cognition, and spatial thinking - in hopes to discover effective instructional strategies leading to conceptual, generalizable knowledge in mathematics.

Lab Manager

Alanna O'Brien received her MA in Social Sciences with a focus on social psychology at the University of Chicago. Her research examined the effects of intrinsic and extrinsic incentives on consumer behavior and on academic performance in high school students. Her current research interests include exploring such topics as motivation, goal pursuit, self-regulation, and judgement and decision-making. She received her BS in Psychology and History from Florida State University in 2011. After graduating from FSU, she taught 10th grade chemistry; an experience which inspired her current research interests. She is continuing her education at Northwestern University in the Fall of 2016.

Ellen Klostermann Wallace received her BA in Biology and Psychology from Northwestern University.  Her undergraduate research focused on EEG and fMRI studies of implicit memory.  Ellen received her PhD in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2009.  During her graduate studies, Ellen conducted neuroimaging studies to explore the role of the parietal lobe in memory retrieval, as well as behavioral studies investigating the effect of emotion on memory.  After receiving her PhD, Ellen worked as a Postdoctoral Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley where she investigated the relationship between dopamine levels and fMRI activity in working memory networks in older and younger adults.  After moving to Chicago, Ellen taught in the Psychology Department at the University of Chicago and later managed clinical trials at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Daniel Byrne is an MA candidate in the Division of the Social Sciences at the University of Chicago with a focus in Comparative Human Development.  Daniel received his BS Summa cum Laude in Psychology and Communication from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2016.  His prior research and professional experience include working as a research assistant for the University of Chicago Medicine’s Thirty Million Words Initiative, the University of Illinois Human Attention Laboratory, a U.S. Department of Defense project on military couples and families post-deployment, and a law clerkship with the State’s Attorney’s Office.  These diverse experiences provided the basis for his current research interests in the social cognitive processes involved in attention socialization and relational reasoning, interpersonal communication and cognition, and narrative in learning contexts.

Shinhae received her BS in Psychology from the University of Michigan in 2014.  The primary focus of her undergraduate research was the effect of culture on decision-making.  She is interested in studying how various cultural backgrounds shape different types of thought processes, and consequently how these affect children’s developmental trajectories.  Shinhae believes that understanding the impact of culture on their developmental trajectories will help achieve her ultimate goal- which is to devise an educational mechanism that would help children maximize their learning potentials, regardless of different cultural backgrounds and educational systems.

Almaz Mesghina is a second-year PhD student in the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. Broadly, her research interests focus on improving learning outcomes for young, disadvantaged students, with a particular interest in non-cognitive factors that may manifest in academic settings. Her current work tests interventions to improve children's ability to learn math under pressure. Almaz graduated from Vanderbilt University in May of 2016 and received her B.S. both in Child Development and Psychology, during which she worked part-time as a preschool teacher and managed Vanderbilt's Early Development Lab. Her previous research investigated how different interactive behaviors with touchscreens affect word learning in diverse populations of preschoolers. 

Layne Teska is a second-year PhD student in the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago.  She graduated from Carleton College in 2014 where she majored in psychology and neuroscience.  Layne plans to explore how elements of the home environment and parent-child relationships affect cognitive and social-emotional development. Currently, her work examines these constructs in a cross-cultural sample. Additionally, Layne is interested in how students’ individual characteristics and cognitive resources (i.e., executive functioning and analogical reasoning skills) in conjunction with their school environment, curriculum, and teacher may systematically impact their learning potential.

Apoorva Shivaram received her MA in Social Sciences in 2017 with a focus on Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. Her research examined the role of deictic linking gestures as a tool in promoting children’s analogical reasoning. Her current interests are how gestures and embodied cognition can help further cognitive abilities such as learning and reasoning. She received her BA in Psychology Honors from Christ University, India in 2015. She has been dancing since the age of five and her current research interests stem from this experience.

Sean Zheng is a recent graduate from the MA Program of Social Sciences at the University of Chicago. His master thesis focused on how gestures improve children's analogical reasoning and how it is manifested in memory. Currently, he is doing followup studies to gain further insight of how external aids could help children conquer their internal cognitive difficulties and induce better learning. 

Marly Santora is a second-year undergraduate student majoring in Comparative Human Development and Linguistics at the University of Chicago. Her research interests include cultural and linguistic effects on early language and math learning. Previously, she was a research assistant at the Berkeley Early Learning Lab under the guidance of Ruthe Foushee and Dr. Fei Xu. Outside of the lab, she enjoys working to spread access to computer science education to girls in the Hyde Park community.

Natalie Au Yeung is a graduate student in the MA of Social Sciences with a focus in Psychology. She graduated from the Chinese University of Hong Kong where she majored in Psychology. Natalie is interested in how mathematics learning is affected by various underlying cognitive and environmental factors, such as executive function, pressure or sterotype threats. Prior to her studies at the University of Chicago, she worked as inspector in the Education Bureau of Hong Kong and high school Mathematics teacher in Hong Kong for five years. These experience have formed her interest in her current interdisciplinary research.