Principal Investigator

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Elizabeth Bonawitz

My research bridges two research traditions: Cognitive Development and Computational Modeling. By bridging these methods, I hope to understand the structure of children's early causal beliefs, how evidence and prior beliefs interact to affect children's learning, the developmental processes that influence children's belief revision, and the role of social factors (such as learning from others) in guiding learning. We are proud members of the Rutgers Newark Child Research Labs and close partners with the CoDaS (Computational Data Science) Group at RU-N.

Departmental Webpage

Curriculum Verite

Lab Manager

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Zachary Walden

Zach Walden graduated from Franklin & Marshall College in 2016 with a B.A. in Psychology. His interests lie in children’s emotion regulation abilities, reactions to emotionally valenced stimuli, and how early life experiences may precipitate and predict later behaviors.

Post-doctoral Fellows

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Yue Yu

I am a postdoctoral associate in the Psychology Department at the University of Rutgers - Newark. I received my PhD in developmental psychology from Cornell University under Tamar Kushnir. I was originally from Shanghai, and did my undergraduate studies in Beijing University.

My research focuses on understanding children’s learning in a social environment. Specifically, I am interested in 1) how contextual factors and individual differences influence children’s imitation behavior, and how that affect what children have learned; 2) how social and pragmatic cues shape children’s causal inferences; and 3) whether children’s experiences and expectations of social interactions differ between formal and informal settings (such as in a lab vs. in a science museum), and its implications for developmental research. Personal Webpage

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Yang Yang

Yang is originally from Beijing, China. She received her Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Science in psychology from Peking University in China, her Master of Education from Harvard University, and her PhD from Cornell University. She is interested in children’s cognitive and emotional development in different cultural contexts. Her graduate work has focused on the developmental patterns, the antecedents, and the consequences of children’s emotional understanding. As a postdoctoral associate in CoCoDev lab, she is interested in using computational tools to investigate children's emotion and learning.

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Koeun Choi

I study cognitive development in the context of media technology. My work uses experimental designs, individual difference measures, eye-tracking methodologies, and statistical techniques to understand the cognitive processes and mechanisms involved in children’s learning and transfer from media. Much of my work focuses on the impact of new technology such as interactive touch screens on children’s exploration and learning in multiple domains (e.g., STEM). I am particularly interested in understanding whether and how digital media would provide benefits in delivering educational content to young learners. Personal Webpage

Graduate Students

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Lonnie Bass

Lonnie Bass graduated from Oberlin College in 2014 with a BA and high honors in Psychology. She is broadly interested in how children learn, specifically the factors and cognitive mechanisms that are involved in children’s evaluations of informants in informal pedagogical contexts. As Dr. Bonawitz's doctoral student, Lonnie hopes to utilize computational modeling techniques to investigate how young children distinguish good teachers from bad ones.

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Carla Macias

I am interested in the ways external environment and internal goals influence human decision making in early development. More specifically, I am interested in the empirical study of both implicit and explicit decision-making processes (e.g.,attention in visual exploration and exploration during play) and how these processes influence learning across development.

Post-bac Research Assistants & Masters students

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Joseph Colantonio

I am a recently graduated senior at Rutgers University Newark, majoring in applied mathematics and minoring in physics and psychology.

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Jack Fredricks

Jack is a recent graduate from Rutgers University – Newark with a major in Psychology. He completed his Honors Thesis in Dr. Bonawitz’s lab in 2016. His interests and current projects concern feedback expectancy and the effect it on has on learning.


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Elizabeth Lapidow

Liz Lapidow graduated from Sarah Lawrence College in 2014, and has been working with Professor Bonawitz since January 2015. She is particularly interested in learning by exploration, and how agents learn and reason about causal relationships.

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Lewis Baker

Lewis received his BS from Loyola University New Orleans and his PhD in Psychology from Vanderbilt University. His research spans developmental, computational and vision science methods to investigate selective attention in social events. One line of inquiry explores joint attention, the ability of adults and children to rapidly attend to where another person can see. Another attempts to predict episodic memories from the structure of events. Lewis is currently working on a new NSF-funded initiative investigating children's learning through discovery, in a collaboration between Elizabeth Bonawitz, Vanessa LoBue and Pat Shafto.

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Katy-Ann Blacker

Katy-Ann is a recently graduated doctoral student. Her research explores how young children acquire causal knowledge about illness transmission and whether this knowledge promotes adaptive behaviors that prevent children from becoming sick or transmitting contagious illnesses to other people.