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 am interested in the relationship between our experiences in the physical world and the representation of abstract concepts in our brains. How do we arrive at these abstract concepts? What allows us to learn concepts that have been created by others? I began asking myself these questions while studying the relationship between language and thought at Mount Holyoke College, where I received my B.A. in Psychology and Spanish.
I am fascinated by how the human mind represents and reasons about our interactions within physical spaces. As a side interest, I'm also fascinated by the developmental differences the human mind and artificial intelligence models. My previous research at the Harvard Lab for Developmental Studies explored causal perception and inferences and at the MIT Early Childhood Cognition Lab focused on the acquisition of knowledge, energy efficiency, and pragmatics through theory of mind. I received my B.A. from St. John's College.
I received my B.A. in Psychology from Princeton University. My research in the Baby Lab at Princeton focused on how children use input from the environment to learn words and represent categories. I am interested in understanding how children navigate the world and approach emerging challenges in their lives, whether a mathematical problem or an otherwise stressful situation, in order to improve learning and clinical outcomes of children. Outside of the lab, I can be found playing soccer on any spare patch of grass I can find or trying out new recipes (and subsequently washing a lot of dishes).
I received my B.S. in Psychology from Tufts University, where my research focused on how social information affects adult's 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 received my BA in Mathematics and Psychology from St. Olaf College. I am primarily interested by why there is seemly an immense difference in skill level in performance in mathematics between those who are proficient in it and those who struggle with it, and how we can perhaps remedy this disparity. Specifically, my interest lies in more complex forms of mathematics such as non-Euclidean geometry, and how the abstract concepts and logic through which we understand these fields present immediate problems for those who require more concrete and rudimentary rules to comprehend mathematics.
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.
HONORS THESIS STUDENTS
I am a senior majoring in Psychology at New York University. I am interested in how children learn problem-solving skills from such a young age and the ways in which they utilize these skills in everyday interactions. It fascinates me how a child's early experiences shape the way that they approach situations. In my free time, I enjoy singing classical music, running, and going to the beach.
I am a junior in NYU, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Chinese and potentially Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies. I’m interested in Clinical Psychology, especially in concern with developing children and adolescents. Outside the lab, I am a part of the NYU Women’s Choir and enjoy doing puzzles.
I received my B.S. in Psychology from Saint Peter's University. My research interests include how abstract concepts and thinking can be understood by humans. How does abstract thinking affect how children understand language and interact with the physical world? In addition, how does the brain comprehend mathematical concepts which cannot be visualized and how does mathematical thinking develop? When I am not in the lab, you'll find me at kickboxing classes and making recipes at home.
I'm a senior at the Gallatin School of Individualized Study, concentrating in psychology, narrative identity, and writing. I'm interested in the ways in which our understanding of mathematically based abstract concepts are shaped by our experiences in the physical world. When I'm not in the lab, you can find me reading a good book or by the ocean...or both!
I am senior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Public Policy and Management at NYU. I am interested in how people are able to turn something in the physical world into something abstract and the way our minds are shaped. Outside the lab, you'll find me reading a book or listening to music!
I am a senior studying Psychology as well as Child & Adolescent Mental Health at NYU. There is so much we don’t know about the psychology of children and young adults, I am fascinated by all there is to learn about the way our minds are shaped. Outside of the lab, you’ll often find me at an art exhibit or breaking a sweat!
SARA JILLIAN OKUN
I am a junior 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 received my B.A. in Psychology from New York University. My previous research at NYU includes neurocognitive research at the Child Study Center and social psychology research at the West Interpersonal Perception Lab. I am interested in examining neural and behavioral correlates related to brain development and learning, specifically through the application of quantitative cognition techniques. Outside of the lab, I love playing with my dogs and baking
I am a junior at Johns Hopkins University going into my junior year and studying
psychology. My favorite psychology topics are decision making processes and number
cognition, particularly intuitive number cognition. Intuitive number cognition is absolutely
fascinating, because it involves the mind picking up visual information and doing calculations to ascertain an abstract quality about an object (for example, guessing how many jelly beans are in a jar). If I’m not in the lab or in a library, I can commonly be found sitting in the big chairs on the top floor of The Strand bookstore reading a novel.
I am a junior majoring in applied psychology and computer science at NYU. I always enjoy working with children, and I care a lot about the mental health of child and adolescents. I am interested in how children develop abstract thinking and social-emotional learning and how early experience shapes such skills and abilities and the developmental implications. Outside the lab, I am a member of Alpha Phi Omega Co-ed fraternity and dance group Asian Fusion Dance. You can find me either volunteering in various organizations or practicing dance.
Divya Dayal (2017-2018) - Honors Thesis Student
Maggie McAlister (2018) - Research Assistant