I am an Assistant Professor in the Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences Department at Brown University. My research explores the development and origins of social cognition – how children, adults and animals understand and learn from others’ behaviour. I am currently especially interested in the relationship between social learning and causal reasoning, and how social information can be combined with direct observation when making judgments about the causal nature of the world. I use computational models to better understand human social reasoning, and in order to ultimately develop intelligent computer programs with some of these same social learning abilities. You can also read about my research at Brown here.
Before joining the faculty at Brown, I was an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at the University of Toronto. At the University of Toronto, my work received funding from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI), the National Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC), and the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Prior to my work in Toronto, I was a Senior Research Fellow in the University of St. Andrews Psychology department, where my research was funded by an ESRC Future Research Leaders grant. I completed my PhD in 2013 in the UC Berkeley Psychology department, where I worked in Alison Gopnik’s Cognitive Development lab and Tom Griffiths’ Computational Cognitive Science lab. Along with my PhD, I completed a master’s degree in the UC Berkeley Statistics department, focusing on applications of probability theory and statistical computing.
Prior to starting my PhD at UC Berkeley, I was a Complexity Scientist at Icosystem Corporation, where I helped develop software for creating postal routes, modeling the spread of cell phone viruses, visualizing online information, and suggesting good baby names, among other things. Before that, I completed a master’s degree at the MIT Media Lab, working on social learning in interactive animated characters.
In my non-academic life, my dog and I trained as a wilderness search and rescue team with the California Rescue Dog Association and the Alameda County Sheriff’s Department Search and Rescue Unit. More recently, I have been a Bright Club participant, performing academic stand up comedy in St. Andrews, Edinburgh and Dundee.