Top Row From Left: Aditya Vasavan, Ethan James Ludwin-Peery, Nicole Loncar. Middle Row: Ofelia Garcia, Anais Kessler, Simran Suresh, Divya Dayal. Bottom Row: Olivia Miller, Dr. Moira Dillon, Sara Okun.
DR. MOIRA DILLON
How does the physical world in which we live shape the abstract world in which we think? I address this question by exploring the development of uniquely human geometric understanding — from the basic spatial sensitivities of infants to the high-level spatial concepts of adults. I also 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 spatial perception and cognition might have even shaped our cultural development throughout historical time, such as the production of pictorial art, by investigating the geometry in children’s drawings.
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 psychology professor focusing on social networks and alcohol abuse. For my senior thesis I studied people's relationships with different media sources on social media. I have some previous experience with developmental research working at Harvard with a lab studying kids development of the concept of fairness. In a couple of years I hope to continue my education by getting my PhD in psychology. Until then, I am excited to be working to get 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, and more recently have been interested specifically in studying aspects of psychological processes and behavior across ages and development, specifically our perception of the world and its objects and their mental representations. 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, race/gender, or in modern terms, political ideations or membership. How much of our judgement about others are influenced by these factors in explicit or implicit ways? Developmentally, what are some factors that contribute to individual differences in these aspects? For example, what kind of spatial cognitive mechanisms are at play contributing to differences in inter-group evaluations involving physical attributes like size, number, or proximity? Outside of lab work, I enjoy movies/filmmaking, music, and traveling.
Post-doctoral Research FEllow
DR. AGATA BOCHYNSKA
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 focuses on exploring how these abilities (representing space and talking about space) are acquired from the earliest stages of cognitive development in children and how closely are they tied together. 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!
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 affect 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.
ETHAN JAMES LUDWIN-PEERY
Somehow, people are able to symbolically represent and reason about a huge variety of topics. Despite some common and consistent errors, it appears that with practice we can think about just about anything. Does this ability come from a single, very general ability to represent different topics, or is it constructed from the combination of specialized representation abilities? And does every domain depend on the same ability to reason — or have we developed different sets of rules for reasoning in different domains? However these are organized, how do we develop such a complex network of representations?
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 math 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 in Oxford.
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.
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.
I am a junior majoring in Neural Science and minoring in Chemistry on the pre-health track. I am interested in the way young minds pick up abstract concepts from the physical world and the implications of this mechanism. Outside the lab, you can find me sleeping at the Bobst library or hooping at Palladium!
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!
I am a senior from NYU Abu Dhabi studying Psychology and Philosophy. I am interested in human consciousness and exploring the mind-brain connection using natural and philosophical sciences. My interest in developmental psychology comes from my capstone thesis aiming to find developmental precursors of self-schemas that cause major depressive disorders in adolescents. Outside the lab, I enjoy longboarding and finding places to journal in the city.
I am a sophomore majoring in Psychology at NYU. I am interested in how spatial sensitivities develop as we age. I am fascinated by how we can learn so much about the mind just by having children complete simple tasks. Outside of the lab, you can find me at a book store or in Central Park, listening to music!
SARA JILLIAN OKUN
I am a senior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Computer Science. I am fascinated by how our experiences throughout our development contribute to our thought processes and our perception of the world. Outside the lab, I can be found taking pictures around the city!
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.
I am a senior from NYU Shanghai, studying away in New York. I am majoring in Psychology and minoring in Art History. I am interested in child psychology (especially attention), social development, and how surroundings affects the development of thinking. Outside the lab, you can find me in art galleries and walking around New York!
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)
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)