Ayaa Osman, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Previous Media Manager Assistant
I am a graduated student at UC Davis who majored in Psychology and minoring in Human Development. I grew up in a primarily Arabic-speaking household and began speaking English around the age 4. I became fluent in both languages and started switching between the two effortlessly, sometimes exchanging certain words from one language to the other. Growing up, I began realizing how fascinating it is to be able to adopt different languages at such a young age and easily distinguish between them. Stumbling upon the Language Learning Lab, I was immediately drawn to the studies done on young children. I’ve always been interested in how children are able to quickly learn and adapt to their surroundings. I hope to one day work in an environment that creates an overall better life for children, especially those that come from underserved and underprivileged backgrounds. Aside from this, I enjoy everything related to creating art and sipping coffee.
Melanie Yoon, Honor Student Thesis
I am a fourth-year international student at UC Davis, double majoring in Psychology and Linguistics. I was born and raised in Malaysia, a country diverse in language and culture. I grew up in a multilingual environment which sparked my interest in languages. I was initially intrigued by language change throughout history but later found an interest in language acquisition and speech disorders. I am particularly fascinated at infants' sensitivity to the phonemes of their language and the aspects of development affected by speech and language disorders. After completing an internship with a speech therapist, I developed a curiosity about the various treatment methods used for speech disorders. Upon completion of my undergraduate degree, I intend to further my education in the field of speech pathology.
Anna Krueger, Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am a fourth year undergraduate student at UC Davis majoring in Human Development and minoring in Human Physiology. I'm from Walnut Creek, CA and grew up in an English speaking household but I've always had a passion for language and would frequently accompany my siblings to their speech therapy sessions when I was younger and I witnessed from personal experience how language acquisition varies in all children. Before joining the Lab I worked with children in summer camps, childcare settings, and tutoring. Joining these passions fueled my motivation to join the Lab. I've gained lab experience through UC Davis Human Development research and I hope that through my love for children and research I can grow skills that I can use in my future career. In my free time I love to read, go on runs, pet my golden retriever, and bake!
Grace Paniccia, Lab Manager, Undergraduate Research Assistant (2020-2021)
I am a fourth year transfer student at UC Davis, majoring in Psychology with a minor in Human Development. Language has played a paramount role in my own development as speaking was difficult for me as a child. Instead of preschool, I was enrolled in a school dedicated to speech therapy. Since then, I have become intrigued with words and languages. I have always had a strong connection to kids. During elementary school, you would always find me in the special needs classroom during my recess time. My gentle nature was well-suited to them and I enjoyed their company. Since high school I have babysat part-time and many mothers have called me the "baby whisperer." My love of language and connection with children has led me to intern at the Language Learning Lab and I'm eager to learn about child language development. In the future, I plan to be a child psychologist. An interesting fact about me is I like to crochet blankets.
Danielle Bucks, Former Lab Manager (2019-2021)
I am a junior transfer student at UC Davis studying Psychology with a minor in Human Development. Starting at an early age in life, I have always had an interest in children and how their minds can be so brilliant at such a young age. Working with or around children has always been something I love, and from my time at Davis, learning about the progression of development in children has made my fascination grow even stronger. I was motivated to join the Language Learning Lab to further advance my knowledge about not only the development of children, but specifically the growth of language in infants. I hope to use my experience and forthcoming encounters in this lab towards my future career working with children. Outside of academics I really enjoy cooking, watching Netflix, being outdoors and hiking, going to the gym, and being around friends and family.
Carolyn Ta, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Former Lead of Business Communications
I am a third year undergraduate student at UC Davis majoring in Neurobiology, Physiology and Behavior, with a minor in Education. I have a passion for working with kids, which originated from teaching at a local summer school over the past five summers. I am amazed at how children, especially infants, can absorb and understand so much information in such a short amount of time. I joined the Language Learning Lab to work with children in a new research environment, as well as to learn more about this process of understanding information. I plan to go to medical school and pursue my goal of becoming a pediatrician. I think the lab is a great experience that will make my passion for working with children stronger and help make me a better professional. Outside of lab, I enjoy running, eating, and spending time with family and friends.
Madeline Wenner, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Former Lead of Media Platforms
I am a fourth year pre-med student at UC Davis majoring in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and minoring in Classics. Taking Latin classes and comparing them to my knowledge of English and Spanish recently sparked my interest in languages, the history and development of languages, and how they are learned. There are many fascinating complexities in the ways different groups of people choose to communicate, and I hope to continue learning more about linguistics through this lab and through my classes. I also plan on becoming a doctor; my love for children has led me to consider Pediatrics or Obstetrics as a specialty in order to spend time helping kids. I am excited to work with children while doing research here and learn from how kids interact with the world around them. I hope my time spent in this lab will help me to become a better health-care provider someday, and a more well-rounded student.
Natalie Ho, Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am a fourth year student at UC Davis majoring in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior and minoring in Psychology. I grew up speaking English and Vietnamese at home and learning Spanish at school. My love for working with children began from my huge family where I experienced babysitting, educating/mentoring, helping with homework, and playing with my little cousins and brother. It is because of my love for the younger demographic that inspires my future career goal in pediatrics! I am extremely excited to be a part of the Language and Learning Lab because I will get to witness infants absorb new information and process language through a scientific perspective. I am also interested in how different environments and varying teaching methods can help children learn effectively.
Jerice Banola, Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am a second year undergraduate student at UC Davis, majoring in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior. I was originally born in the Philippines, making Tagalog my first language. However, my family eventually moved to America when I was an infant, causing me to lose my ability to speak Tagalog and learn English. Learning how bilingualism develops in infants is something I’m very interested in learning about and a big reason why I joined the Language Learning Lab. I am very excited to learn more about the progression of languages in infants and also the growth of myself through this lab, hoping to use what I learn in my future endeavors.
Delphine Golly, Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am a third year undergraduate student at UC Davis majoring in Cognitive Science with a minor in Psychology. My parents are both from Ivory Coast, so I grew up in a bilingual household of English and French. All of my siblings were exposed to French at different points in our childhood/adolescence, which has led to some speaking fluent French and others, including myself, barely remembering the basics from memory. Being in this position has led to a great interest in how the ability to learn languages processes and changes with and without environmental and cultural influences, and I think the Language Learning Lab is the perfect place to explore this idea! In the future I plan to pursue a graduate degree in hopes of becoming a clinical psychologist researching the development of mental illnesses throughout one’s life. In my free time I enjoy going to the gym, listening to music, shopping, and being with friends and family.
Cindy Ceja, Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am a third-year student double majoring in Psychology and Communications. My interest in language development began when I was enrolled in an Introduction to Linguistics course. Instantly, I was enthralled by how humans have the capability to acquire and use language. Also, as a simultaneous English-Spanish bilingual individual, I would like to expand my knowledge on bilingualism and its effects on how children can learn to identify new sounds and words. I plan on becoming a Child or School Psychologist as I am interested in helping to guide children as they continue to develop emotionally, physically, and psychologically. Thus, I hope to help children develop in every aspect of their lives alongside helping them cope with any foreseeable situation. Outside of academics, I enjoy cooking, visiting art museums, and checking out new cafés.
Alexis Elliott, Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am a fourth year Human Development major at UC Davis. I have grown up working with children who have difficulties learning to speak, or who use sign language to communicate. It has always amazed me at the versatility and importance of language. I look forward to using what I learn from this lab in my future career as a nurse.
Jinlin Xie, Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am a fourth year undergraduate student majoring in Psychology and minoring in Education. My native language is Chinese, and I started learning English as I got older. The difficulties of learning English have prompted me into studying language development. I remember after I learned that “-er” can be used to make nouns mean someone who is performing the action, I called a chef “cooker”. It was an embarrassing experience, but also caused me to become interested in how categorization may influence and facilitate language learning. I also love taking care of kids and I want to work in a pre-school setting in the future. Working in the Language Learning Lab would be an ideal setting for me to explore every aspect I am interested in. I enjoy hiking and going to the gym in my spare time.
Colleen Hernandez, Research Assistant
I have recently finished my MS in Child Development at University of La Verne and am applying to a PhD in Developmental Psychology at UC Davis and am a certified early childhood educator. I grew up speaking English and learning Spanish in high school, then in college I studied several years of Japanese. While I was living in Japan teaching English for 3 years, I became interested in learning more about the mechanics behind how children acquire a second language. I became an early childhood educator upon returning to the US and gained experience with infants and toddlers as well as bilingual preschoolers. While raising my own two daughters, being involved in their linguistic development day by day has been exciting and very informative. I am interested in early word acquisition, cognitive development, semantic learning, how parents' speech might affect learning, and the mechanisms involved in multilingual learning. I look forward to learning more about the research process.
Kimberly Francis, Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am a fourth year undergraduate student pursuing degrees in both English and Linguistics with a minor in Education. Throughout my academic career, I have been able to explore my passion for education and experience an immeasurable amount of joy working closely with children in a variety of settings. I am excited to further my understanding of cognitive and linguistic implications upon language processing/development and apply the skills I will acquire through this position to my future career as a Speech-Language Pathologist.
Ann Cheng, Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am a fourth-year undergraduate student at UC Davis majoring in Psychology and minoring in Human Development and Education. I chose to join the Language Learning Lab because I grew up bilingual. I am interested in learning and researching about the cognitive development of children and being able to apply what I learned to my future career. I am also a member of the Social Environment and Stress lab where I learn about how children from different family backgrounds react to stressful situations. In my free time, I like to explore new coffee shops, bookstores, and play the piano.
Emma Wong, Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am a second year international student at UC Davis majoring in Psychology, and hope to attain a minor in English as well. I was born and raised in Hong Kong my entire life before coming to the states for college. Ethnically, my mother is Japanese and my father is Chinese—since they didn’t know each others’ languages, they only communicated in English, and this was what they raised me with. Though English is my native language, my life was sprinkled with various levels of exposure to Japanese, Cantonese, and Mandarin—resulting in a very discombobulated ethnic-language identity due to a lack of fluency in these three languages. So naturally, the research on bilingual and multilingual children in this lab struck a personal chord with me. In other words, I applied to this lab not only to gain practical lab and research skills, but to find answers to the linguistic training I lacked in my own childhood. In the future, I hope to continue my psychology studies in graduate school and one day work in the social work and counseling fields in the states or back in Hong Kong.
Mariam Ali, Undergraduate Research Assistant, Media Manager (2019-2021)
I am a graduated student from UC Davis who majored in Cognitive Science with Computational emphasis and minored in Arabic. I was born and raised in Assiut, Egypt and grew up speaking Arabic until I came to the United States in 2010, and learned English. I have always had a passion for kids since I grew up babysitting my cousins and my sister. It was also because of this love that I started to tutor from a young age. I wanted to create a difference by helping children grow. For this reason, I applied to work for the Language Learning Lab to know how the age of a child can cause a difference in learning and how the brain can have a large capacity to absorb more than one language. I want to immerse myself with kids to not only understand them linguistically and cognitively, but to also figure out how parents can affect children’s development. In the long term, and through this experience, I will expand my knowledge and be able to help children around the world. Outside of my academics, I like to go on new adventures, try new food and listen to Arabic songs.
Ellie Lacaze, Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am a second year undergraduate student at UC Davis pursuing a double major in Cognitive Science and Psychology. I was raised in Fremont, California in a monolingual household, despite my parents' efforts to teach my twin sister and I Spanish. We both picked it up easily when we were young, but quickly forgot everything later on. This affinity for language that we possess as children intrigues me, and joining the Language Learning Lab will allow me to explore infant learning patterns in a more hands-on and focused environment than a classroom could provide. Also, I have always loved working with children, whether it be babysitting or volunteering as an assistant teacher at a science camp over the summer. After completing my undergraduate degrees, I hope to continue my education at graduate school. In the meantime, though, I enjoy meeting up with friends between classes, thrifting in downtown Davis, and reading a good science fiction novel whenever time allows.
Miranda Kramer, Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am a senior transfer student at UC Davis studying Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior with a minor in Psychology. I was raised in a small rural Northern California community, and my arrival into this world inspired my mom to finish her degree in child development. Because of this, I spent my early days in a preschool classroom with “Teacher Mommy,” and later on I had the opportunity to assist in her classroom, which passed down a deep passion to work with, and advocates for, children in underserved communities. I also worked as a Behavioral Therapist with children on the Autism Spectrum, which reinforced the value of language acquisition and how life-changing the ability to communicate can be. I am fascinated by the innate methods children use to better understand the world around them, and the Language Learning Lab provides me with a unique opportunity to study one of the arguably most important ways children make sense of their environment: through language. In my free time (and before the pandemic), I enjoyed going to concerts and music festivals, as well as spending time with family.
Priscilla Ferreira Servin, Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am a fourth year undergraduate student at UC Davis majoring in Psychology and minoring in Sociology. My interest in language development started at a young age when I began to notice that I had to interpret for my immigrant parents during doctors appointments, legal advising, and even during my own academic meetings. The difficulties that my parents encountered while adapting to the English language in the United States kick-started my passion of providing underprivileged youth with social and academic resources, while helping them to see alternatives to what can sometimes seem a hopeless situation. Due to these experiences, I have immersed myself in the world of youth enrichment for the City of Vallejo by offering student leadership, advocacy, and personal development. My love for youth empowerment has led me to join the Language Learning Lab in order to learn more about the power of understanding language and the development of children. Other than my passion for student advocacy I enjoy rollerblading and kickboxing on my free time!