Team LDM

top row from left: Ira cekici, kristen dong, sara okun, katie maguire, aravind kumar, AZAR TUERXUNTUOHETI, Petrina Chan. Bottom Row: Albina zlenko, iram lakhani, DR. AGATA BOCHYNSKA, dr. moira dillon, ana bachrach

principal investigator


How does the physical world in which we live shape the abstract world in which we think? I address this question by exploring the origin and development of uniquely human geometric understanding. My lab uses cognitive, developmental, and computational approaches to gain insight from the full range of human encounters with geometry, from the basic spatial sensitivities of infants to the untutored use of spatial symbols and language by children to the high-level spatial concepts of adults. I broaden and deepen this exploration to ask how mathematical formalisms might have been ignited in the first geometers like Euclid and how they might be reignited in the minds of our children, those future mathematicians we send to school every day. In addition, I ask how our basic mechanisms of perception and cognition about spaces, objects, agents, and social partners might even shape our cultural production of pictorial art. Elucidating the geometry and communicative intent in children’s drawings may help reveal the role human cognition plays in the production of art.


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I graduated from Vassar College in 2019 with a B.A. in Psychology and a minor in History. At Vassar, I was a research assistant for a project focusing on social networks and alcohol abuse, and for my senior thesis, I studied how people interact with different media sources through social media. I have previous experience with developmental research through the Harvard Lab for Developmental Studies, where I examined the development of the concept of fairness. In a couple of years I hope to continue my education by getting my Ph.D. in Psychology. Until then, I am excited to be gaining a deeper understanding of this area of psychology, the research process, and what working in the field of psychology is really like.


I have long been intrigued by the myriad of complex interactions and decisions we all make everyday. More recently, I have been interested specifically in studying aspects of psychological processes and behavior across ages and development, specifically our perception and mental representation of the world and its objects. I graduated from Tufts University in 2019 with a B.S. in Biopsychology and minors in Science, Technology, and Society (STS), and Studio Art. My previous research involved avian (bird) cognition and social and moral psychology. My developmental research includes work with the Yale Cognition and Development Lab, the MIT Early Childhood Cognition Lab, and the MIT Media Lab, studying children’s interpretations of complexity of objects and moral rules. I have a great interest in bridging the domains of art and science and believe that these fields communicate in very important and complex manners. Outside of the lab, I’m likely birdwatching, drawing, or looking for new restaurants to try!


I received my B.A. from Emory University, where I was involved in research on implicit racial biases and affective/cognitive correlates of group membership and inter-group interactions. I am fascinated by how we as human beings evaluate social situations based on information like group affiliation, dominance hierarchies, or in modern terms, political ideations or membership. How much of our judgement about others is influenced by these factors in explicit or implicit ways? Developmentally, what factors might contribute to individual differences in these judgments? Especially in terms of spatial cognitive development, what are some of the spatial/physical cues that we rely on for making social inferences? How do we differ in our sensitivities to different spatial information such as size, number or proximity of physical objects?

Research Programmer

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Théo Morfoisse

I attended engineering school in France, where I specialized in Computer Science and Mathematics. For the past two years, I have been studying neuroscience at the Masters level. Through my Masters work, I was partially able to answer questions that I had always asked myself: How are we capable of such incredible abilities for learning and memorizing? What are the underlying neural processes and do they differ across individuals? During my last research position in France, I focused on the understanding of mathematical concepts: What mathematical concepts are intuitive to children? Are these concepts unique to humans? These questions reflected my interest in both mathematics and philosophy. I am very happy to be continuing in this research area by joining the Lab for the Developing Mind.

Post-doctoral Research FEllow



I am a graduate in psychology and linguistics with an MPhil degree from the University of Oslo (Oslo, Norway) and a PhD degree from Norwegian University of Science and Technology (NTNU Trondheim, Norway). I have always been interested in how we as humans mentally represent the visual and spatial properties of the world around us, and how we express them in language, e.g., by using verbal expressions such as “under”, “to the left of”, “above”, or “behind”. Currently, my work explores how representing space and talking about space are acquired from the earliest stages of cognitive development and how they might relate to each other through development. When I am not at the lab, you will find me at a dance school practicing contemporary dance or salsa or at a yoga studio!

graduate students



I received my B.S. in Psychology from Tufts University, where my research focused on how social information affects adults’ judgments about space. I then taught first grade in the South Bronx, during which my research interests began to evolve. I am interested in how children perceive the world around them and how non-spatial cues interact with spatial cognition. The way we communicate about space may lead to different interpretations of the very same space. For example, might children's drawings of a space change when the recipient of the picture is a parent instead of a researcher? What spatial details might children include when drawing a map instead of a picture? How do spatial intuitions develop before formal schooling? I also strive to create a stronger connection between developmental research and educational practice.


I'm currently studying psychology as a Rhodes Scholar at Oxford University, and previously studied math and physics in McMaster University's ultra-interdisciplinary Arts & Sciences program. Teaching mathematics is a delicate balancing act: We need to ground abstract theorems in familiar ideas and explain esoteric concepts with intuitive examples. But what are mathematical intuitions, anyway? What makes some problems so simple, while other cause mental road-blocks? I began exploring these questions in the lab during the summer of 2017, and continue to work on various projects while at Oxford.


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Fernanda Ahumada

I am a graduate student of the Developmental Psychology program at Teachers College, Columbia University. I am interested in how interactions between caregivers and their young children could impact their spatial awareness. Moreover, I am curious to know more about the consequences of that in their later math outcomes and involvement in STEAM careers. Outside the lab you can find me birdwatching, taking photos of the city and tasting different types of coffee.

Sherry Bai

I am a junior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Creative Writing. I am interested in how children learn concepts of mathematics and hope that the result of such research can shed light on intervention projects targeting children from disadvantaged backgrounds and schools. Outside of the lab, I spend much of my time practicing yoga.


Ira Cekici

I am a senior on the pre-health track and majoring in Psychology at New York University. I was first drawn to psychology by asking questions about how human minds think about and rationalize abstract concepts, and I am excited to finally be pursuing answers to these questions. I am especially interested in our thought processes behind math and navigation. Outside the lab, I’m usually in an art museum or hosting a s’mores session on my rooftop.


Brooke Diviak

I am a graduate student at Teachers College, Columbia University studying Psychology Education. I am interested in understanding how learning at the cognitive level shapes the way we understand the world and ourselves within it. You can find me going on walks around the city, book and/or notebooks in hand!

Jarett Lee

I am a junior majoring in Childhood/Special Education and Psychology, and minoring in American Sign Language. I am interested in how the results of psychological research in child development can be applied to the classroom in an academic context. I hope that such research leads to the discovery of practical techniques and methods that teachers can use to refine the individual education for each of their students. Outside the lab, I breakdance or make desserts for my friends.

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Jocelyn Lee

I am a senior majoring in Psychology at New York University. I am interested in abnormal psychology and developmental psychology, specifically, how children at such a young age interact with their surroundings making them an active learner. Outside of the lab, you can find me walking along the Hudson River, trying out new restaurants, or at concerts with my friends.

Kiran Kottapalli

I am a sophomore on the pre-health track majoring in Psychology and minoring in Computer Science. I am interested in exploring cognitive development and how children build the foundational learning skills that later become complex adult behaviors. Outside of the lab, you’ll find me wandering around taking in the incredible sites and diverse experiences that the city has to offer!

Nithya Reddy

I am a junior double majoring in Economics and Psychology at New York University. After realizing I wanted to expand my breadth of knowledge beyond business school, I wanted to devote more of my academic career to exploring my interest in psychology. More specifically, I want to understand the early stages of development both cognitively and personality wise. Outside the lab I’m usually eating, watching television, or wasting time in coffee shops.



I am studying Psychology and Neuroscience at New York University, and I'm deeply interested in Child and Adolescent psychology. I hope to understand the complexity and efficiency with which children are able to make connections. My hobbies include playing tennis, swimming, and reading.


Lab Managers

Holly Huey, (2017-2019), Nicole Loncar (2017-2019), Ofelia Garcia (2018-2019)

Honors Thesis Students

Olivia Miller (2017-2019), Simran Suresh (2018-2019), Divya Dayal (2017-2018)

Research Assistants

Sara Okun (2017-2019), Aravind Kumar (2019), Albina Zlenko (2019), Alisa Kizilbash (2017-2019), Emily Schwartz (2017-2019), Kimberly Kissoon (2018-2019), Emilie Geesey (2018-2019), Anaïs Kessler (2017-2018), Maggie McAlister (2018), Gia Squitieri (2018) Ashley Zhang (2018)

Interested in joining US As A Student oR Volunteer? Fill out the form below!

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