Current Lab Members

Click on each person's name to learn more about their work.


Dr. Caren Walker, Principal Investigator

Caren Walker is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of California, San Diego. She received her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of California, Berkeley in 2015. Dr. Walker’s research is in the area of cognitive development, examining the various learning mechanisms that underlie knowledge acquisition and change. This work addresses basic questions about the nature of mental representations in human cognition, and she is particularly interested in the early development of abstract reasoning about causality.


Elizabeth Lapidow, Graduate Student

Liz is a first-year graduate student, beginning in Fall 2017, in the Department of Psychology at UC San Diego. Broadly, her research is interested in how learners seek to ‘figure out’ the world around them by taking actions and considering possibilities. She is particularly intrigued by questions about how agents learn and reason about causal systems and about decision making during exploration. Prior to starting graduate work at UCSD, Liz received her BA from Sarah Lawrence College in 2014 and did research in computational cognition at Rutgers University.


Jae Engle, Graduate Student

Jae is a second-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Neuroscience at The Scripps Research Institute. Her research centers on learning processes in children, with a special focus on the underlying mechanisms that facilitate scientific reasoning skills. Specifically, she is interested in studying the effects of counterfactual reasoning and pretend play on children's learning. To probe this phenomenon, she is taking a multidisciplinary approach using methods in both cognitive neuroscience and psychology. Additionally, she is also interested in examining the development of reward-processing in children with and without Autism.


Isabella Killeen, Graduate Student

Isabella is a third-year graduate student in the Department of Psychology at UC San Diego. She graduated with her B.S. in Psychology from Colorado State University in 2014, and received her M.A. in Psychology from UC San Diego in 2016. Her research focuses on memory and metacognitive development in children. Specifically, she is interested in how children are able to use their expressions of confidence to indicate the strength of their memories, as well as how children develop metacognitive abilities like uncertainty monitoring and confidence expression during the preschool years.

Katharine Tillman, Graduate Student

Katharine recently completed her Ph.D. in psychology at UCSD, as a member of the Language and Development Lab. She is interested in how children acquire abstract concepts, such as the concept of time, and the roles that perception, language, and culture play in this process. In the ELC Lab, she is exploring the intersection of children’s reasoning about time and causality, as well as the relationship between childhood pretense and counterfactual thinking. Katharine received her BA in Psychology from NYU, where she conducted research on visual perception.


Nicky Sullivan, Lab Coordinator

Nicky recently graduated from Stanford University where he studied Psychology and Communication. His research interests center on how children learn about the world and other people, and how they begin to make value judgments and develop preferences. He looks forward to meeting you and your family and in working to make your experience with the ELC Lab as wonderful as possible.  Please contact him with any questions you may have. When's he not in the lab, he enjoys running, hiking, and exploring the city!

Research Assistants


Daylin Anderson


Ruth Bagcus

Hazel Baker-Harvey


Carolyn Collora

Sarah Gan


Natalie Godfrey

Alicia Lunardhi


Jess Wallach

Disha Goel

Ivonne Palma 


Angela Wu


Nadia Keddo


Nirav Patel

David Lee


Joelle Robinett

Lorna Liu

Johanna Walker, at UC Berkeley


Lab Alumni

Andie Nishimi, Lab Coordinator

Caitlyn Lanigan, Research Assistant
Taylor Osman, Research Assistant
Amanda Stroiman, Research Assistant
Sierra Ampudia, Research Assistant
Emily To, Research Assistant
Yashna Bowen, Research Assistant





Research Partners