Lab Members

Meet the Lab!

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Post-Doctoral Researchers

Pablo León-Villagrá

Post-Doctoral Researcher

I am a postdoc in the Computational Cognitive Development Lab at Brown University. During my stay at Dr. Buchsbaum’s lab I’d like to explore how children form representations of the world around them and how these representation allow them to perform rapid generalization and transfer. Outside of work I like to play chess, read and try out new recipes.

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Graduate Students

Caiqin Zhou

Ph.D. Student

I’m a second-year Phd student in Cognitive Science. I’m broadly interested in children’s active learning and exploration and their causal reasoning. My research uses both behavioral and computational methods to explore these topics. Before coming to Brown, I studied children’s prosocial behavior in Dr. Felix Warneken’s lab and children’s Theory of Mind in Dr. Julian Jara-Ettinger’s lab. I received my bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Economics from Wellesley College. Outside of work, I enjoy watching medical and crime TV shows and taking long walks.

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Miriam Ross

Ph.D. Student

I am a second-year doctoral student in the Cognitive, Linguistic, & Psychological Sciences department at Brown University. I graduated with my Bachelor’s from Yale University, majoring in Cognitive Science. My current research interests in dog behavior focus on canine intelligence and owners’ perceptions of their dogs. During undergrad, I was fortunate to study theory of mind in wild rhesus monkeys on Cayo Santiago, Puerto Rico. Outside of work, I love foraging, rollerblading, biking, and thrifting.

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Sarah Kiefer

Ph.D Student

I am a second-year Ph.D. student in the lab. I graduated from Arizona State University in 2019 with a B.S. in Psychology. Prior to Brown, I worked as a research coordinator at the Southwest Autism Research and Resource Center (SARRC) and then as a lab Manager of the Emerging Minds Lab at Arizona State University (PI: Kelsey Lucca). My research examines children’s early learning through exploration, causal reasoning, and effort allocation. When I am not in the lab, I enjoy rock climbing, watching films, and cooking.

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Madeline Pelgrim

Ph.D. Candidate

I am a fourth-year doctoral candidate in the Cognitive, Linguistic, & Psychological Sciences Department here at Brown. I completed my Bachelor’s at the University of Toronto where I studied Biology & Psychology. My research focuses on how dogs learn about and interact with the world around them, particularly in their interactions with their human companions.

My website:

madeline pelgrim smiling and crouching down to pet a golden retriever

Rebekah Gelpi

Ph.D. Candidate

I am a Ph.D. candidate currently studying at the University of Toronto. I am particularly interested in the differences between children’s and adults’ learning in social environments, and whether these differences reflect strategies that children and adults are uniquely suited to using. Outside of the lab, I love seeing new films at TIFF and trying out new recipes from the Great British Bake Off.

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Undergraduate Students

Andrew Park

Undergraduate Teaching and Research Awards student

Hello! My name is Andrew, and I am a third-year at Brown University concentrating in Psychology. For the past six or seven years, I have been spending my free time as a swim instructor for young children, and have been working with kids in volunteer settings as well. As a psychology major, I have always been interested in understanding children’s cognitive development. I am very excited to learn more about children’s cognitive development with the lab and continue working with children! Outside of school, I love to rock climb, surf, and waterski.

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Christine Wu

Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award student

Hi! My name is Christine and I am a Junior studying Behavioral Decision Sciences and Social Analysis and Research. I have really enjoyed volunteering at my hometown’s children’s museum, teaching at a Providence summer camp, taking child development classes, and now working with this lab! In my free time I indulge in watching (too much) reality tv, trying local restaurants, and obsessively collecting receipts and random knick knacks for my scrapbook.

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Claire Washington

Volunteer Research Assistant

Hi! I’m Claire and I’m a Junior studying Psychology and Sociology. I have a background in working with kids through tutoring and I think it’s really interesting the way we as humans process the world! I plan to pursue a future in Clinical Psychology and I’m really looking forward to working in the lab! I spend my free time listening to RnB, watching movies, and being with friends.

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Hayley Guillen

Volunteer Research Assistant

Hi! I’m a junior concentrating in cognitive neuroscience and applied mathematics. In the future, I hope to merge my two interests by working in data analytics. I have past experience working with children through tutoring and babysitting throughout high school and have always been fascinated by how their thinking develops. On that note, I’m excited to continue working with kids and researching their cognitive development. Outside of the lab, I enjoy sketching, reading, and cooking nights with friends

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Joshua Benzon

Undergraduate Teaching and Research Award student

Heya! I’m a senior at Brown University studying Computer Science with a focus on design and software. In high school, I was an Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) research finalist for my project titled “Train a Happy Brain!: A Human Behavioral Study on the Emotional Perception of Happiness.” Since then, I’ve been passionate about leveraging technology to enhance mental health by using positive psychology principles. In my free time, I enjoy swimming, drawing, listening to KPop, and catching up on KDramas.

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Justin Lee

Volunteer Research Assistant

Hello! I am Justin Lee, a fourth-year undergraduate student at Brown concentrating in Biology. I’ve been a dog owner for 13 years now, and I’m excited to be involved in canine cognition projects. Some of my hobbies include drawing, dancing, and listening to music!

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Luke Horton

Volunteer Research Assistant

Howdy! I’m a senior at Brown University concentrating in Psychology and Anthropology. I have a lot of experience working with and teaching kids, so researching their cognitive development is quite exciting. Outside of work and school, I enjoy playing the piano, making comics, and going on long walks.

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Olivia Williamson

Volunteer Research Assistant

Hello! I am a senior at Brown University concentrating in Psychology. During my time here, I have worked in several public health labs, taken comparative psychology courses, and pet a lot of dogs on the Main Green. I am interested in furthering my understanding of animal cognition during my time at the CoCoDev Lab and plan to pursue further education in Developmental Psychology. Outside of academics, I spend a lot of my time working as a tour guide for the university, mastering the art of crochet, and listening to music.

Photograph of Olivia Williamson

Fiametta Boffey

Undergraduate Senior Research Assistant

Hi! I’m Fiametta, a senior at Brown University studying linguistics and linguistic anthropology. I hope to work with children as a speech pathologist one day, so working with kids in the lab has been an exciting hands-on way to learn about children’s cognitive development. When I’m not helping out with research, you can usually find me watching early 2000s serialized TV shows or practicing quidditch with the Brown quidditch team.

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Maria Iorini

Undergraduate Senior Research Assistant / Honors Thesis student

Hi! I am Maria and I am a Senior. I am concentrating in Psychology and plan to pursue a future in Clinical Psychology. I have past experience tutoring children from ages 3 to 15 and so am extremely excited to continue working with kids in the lab and expand my knowledge on their cognitive function. I spend a lot of my free time in the pool as I am on the swim team as well as baking, reading and dancing!

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Lauren Bonner

Honors Thesis student

I am a fourth-year undergraduate student at Brown University studying Psychology. I previously worked on a research project developing new pharmacological interventions for alcohol use disorder in teenagers and adults. I’m excited to learn about cognition in dogs! Outside of school I volunteer on a suicide hotline, help out with an Animal Behavior course, and enjoy music, fashion, and journaling

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Liana Haigis

Honors Thesis student

Hello! I’m a senior at Brown University pursuing a degree in Psychology and/or Cognitive Science. All through high school, I worked with children ages 4-13 teaching music, math and science. Through this I became interested in age-related differences in cognitive and social-emotional development. I’m excited to learn more about child psychology and cognition during my time at the CoCoDev lab. Outside of academics, I enjoy playing guitar, hiking and spending time with friends.

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We are located in the Metcalf Research Building on the Brown University campus.

Address: 190 Thayer Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02912

Contact Us


Phone: 401-863-2070