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 second-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. She is co-advised by Dr. Walker and Dr. John Wixted. 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 is interested in how children acquire an adult-like concept of time, and roles that language and spatial cognition play in this process. She also studies how kids learn abstract words in general, including time words, number words, and color words. Prior to starting graduate work at UCSD, Katharine received her BA in Psychology from NYU where she conducted research on visual perception. Outside the lab, she enjoys creative writing, meditation, and trying to keep up with her 2-year-old daughter.


Andie Nishimi, Lab Coordinator

Andie recently graduated from UC San Diego where she played water polo and studied Cognitive Science and Psychology. Her research interests center on how children acquire abstract concepts such as time, and how gesture or the body might be recruited for such development. She 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 her with any questions you may have. When not in the lab, you can find her in the pool, on a bike ride, or at the beach!

Research Assistants


Daylin Anderson

Yashna Bowen

Sarah Gan

Disha Goel

Alicia Lunardhi


Emily To

David Lee, Honors Student

Johanna Walker, at UC Berkeley


Lab Alumni

Caitlyn Lanigan, Research Assistant
Taylor Osman, Research Assistant


Research Partners