Dr. Katharine Graf Estes, Principal Investigator - Lab Director
Infants are immersed in a world of immense complexity, yet they display knowledge of the people, objects, actions, and sounds in their environments very early in life. My research explores the mechanisms that support this early learning. In particular, the ability to detect statistical regularities may play a fundamental role in how infants learn about a highly complex, highly salient aspect of the auditory world: language. Infants become especially attuned to regularities in the sound patterns of the ambient language, including its phoneme distinctions, sound combinations within words, and its cues to word boundaries in fluent speech. Thus, when infants begin to understand and produce words, they do not start as a blank slate. I am investigating how infants learn from statistical regularities in the language they hear and the nature of what they learn.
Dylan Antovich, Graduate Student
I graduated in 2010 from the University of Washington with a B.S. in psychology and minors in Italian language and music. I am currently in the Developmental Psychology Ph.D. program at UC Davis, with a focus on early language development. My research interests include bilingualism, cognitive development, communication disorders, language learning mechanisms, andearly word acquisition. Working at the Language Learning Lab will be a great way to pursue these interests and to learn about the fascinating field of language development.
Erica Verde, Graduate Student
I am first year doctoral student in the developmental area in the psychology department. A simultaneous English-Spanish bilingual originally from Miami, I hold a bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Miami and a master's degree in Linguistics from Florida International University. Before joining the Language Learning Lab, I managed an infant language lab at Stanford University under Dr. Anne Fernald, as well as the ISI bilingual language processing lab under Dr. Paola Dussias at the Pennsylvania State University. I am broadly interested in lexical and semantic acquisition and processing in both monolingual and bilingual populations. In particular, I hope to explore the role of statistical learning in these processes and how variability in the input affects infants' ability to recognize meaningful language features.
Daniela Guarnizo, Lab Coordinator
I recently graduated from the University of Central Florida with a B.S. in Psychology. My research interests include the development of language, child self-regulation, and the interaction of biological, social and psychological factors in the development of children. My interest in language development research, arises not only for a professional desire to learn more about how language acquisition develops, but also from my personal experience as a Spanish – English bilingual individual who learned English as a second language at a young age. The world of human development mesmerizes me and, learning about how children learn and acquire information is a fascinating experience that continuously leaves me with a desire to learn more. Working at the Learning Language Lab gives me the space and tools I need to continue learning about the beautiful development of a child’s world!
Daria Tsakke, Lead Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am a fourth year undergraduate student at CSU-Sacramento, pursuing a Bachelor’s Degree in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. As a bilingual speaker of English and Russian who is also learning Spanish, I am continually fascinated by the dynamics of language acquisition and functionality. My research involvement with the Language Learning Lab will enable me to explore language from an observer’s perspective. I think that studying language in infants is a very effective way of capturing the process of language development due to the ability to observe fundamental changes in language abilities from month to month or even week to week. Outside of academics, I serve as a tutor for a reading development program and as a volunteer for children’s activities at the Sacramento Public Library. I would like to further study Cognitive Psychology (i.e. Psycholinguistics) in graduate school, with the goal of becoming a college faculty member and/or administrator. In my spare time, I enjoy traveling with others, hiking, sketching, reading, and philosophizing.
Damaris Velasco, Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am a fourth year at UC Davis, double majoring in Psychology and International Relations with a minor in Japanese. Being part of the Language Learning Lab is an amazing experience where I get to experience a combination of my interests in developmental psychology and language. Not only that but I also get to learn more about research in this field and what working in a lab entails. This opportunity has begun to further fuel my interests in pursuing Graduate school so that one day I too can conduct research in developmental psychology and even connect my interests of cross-cultural research in this field. This past summer I had an unforgettable internship in Japan called JCHIP, where I was able to work in a children's home allowing me to work with children in another cultural context. Experiences such as these give me more motivation to work hard towards my goals in this field. Outside the lab and schoolwork, I enjoy reading, practicing guitar, writing and listening to music.
Carolyn Vo, Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am an undergraduate at UC Davis majoring in Psychology with an Emphasis in Biology. I will be graduating December 2016. My research interests include the vast realm of cognitive, social, and emotional development in children. I am particularly interested in early intervention, sensory integration, and social skills development. My interest in joining the Language Learning Lab as a research assistant stems from my time working with children in an occupational therapy setting. My experiences working with children who have a background of a developmental disorder or delays, birth defects, or other special needs have made me appreciate the power of communication through language. By learning more about language acquisition in children, I hope to use that knowledge to become a better clinician in the future. I would like to integrate that knowledge to improve language skills in children to ultimately enhance their overall treatment and developmental outcomes.
Helen Santacruz, Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am a fourth year at UC Davis, majoring in Human Development and minoring in Linguistics. I was raised bilingual in Spanish and English and now I have two young siblings in a similar situation. It is incredibly motivating to see their language develop and become more complex as the days go by. I joined the Language Learning Lab because it allows me the opportunity to observe early language development in a unique context. In particular, I find it interesting to see narrowing occur in infants as they begin to master the language(s) spoken in their immediate environment. In the future, I hope to apply to grad school and eventually pursue a career as a speech pathologist. Outside of the lab, I work with at risk youth as a lead tutor with Davis Bridge. I am also in a Ballet folklorico group called Danzantes del Alma. In my free time I like to find new music to listen to, contemplate spending money on things I don’t need, and spending time with good friends.
Diana Mulina, Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am a fourth year Psychology major and Spanish minor at UC Davis. I am interested in studying social and abnormal psychology, as well as psycholinguistics. I have a love for people and language - as I have found that communication is key! My goals are to strengthen my speaking skills in Spanish and Russian and gain research skills at the language lab to prepare me for graduate school. Research is an important tool that allows us to experiment and gain knowledge. This knowledge allows us to understand each other better and the world we live in. We learn new things everyday from children and others around us as we are all students for life. Outside of academics and the lab, I enjoy traveling, spending time with friends and family, and meeting new people.
Yadira Navarro Landeros, Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am currently a fourth year at the University of California, Davis. I am double majoring in Psychology and Communications as well as minoring in Human Development. I have always been fascinated with the ability of a child to develop a sense of language before they can even use words, and find language development to be important for a child to properly communicate with others. My interest for joining the Language Learning Lab stems from my desire to expand my knowledge and learn more about children and the ways they develop language skills to socially interact and relate to others in meaningful ways. I was an intern at the UC Davis Self Knowledge and Personality Lab and worked there as a research assistant for a year. There we focused more on individual differences in personality, and looked at how increasing your knowledge on your own personality type can help you have healthier relationships with others. I have plans to attend graduate school and get my Masters in Social Work. My goal is to work with children who have been abused physically, mentally, and/or emotionally. As a first generation, Mexican American student, I hold the “American Dream” and want to make a positive impact in children’s lives, especially those who are living in unsafe homes and feel undeserving. I want help them learn that they are worthy and can put a stop to any cycle of abuse. My goal is for a home to be a place for support and nurturance, not abuse and the undermining of potential. Being part of this lab is just a step closer to accomplishing a rewarding career as a child social worker that will allow me to help those who are living in unsafe homes get out of such situations that make them feel undeserving.
Maya Bowen, Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am a third year student at UC Davis, double majoring in Psychology and Human Development. I have a passion for working with children, helping guide them as they develop emotionally, physically, psychologically, and studying what factors might influence them as they grow up. These interests come from the time that I spent working with children in classrooms, camps and various internships. I joined the language learning lab because it is a great chance to study early language development in children and it is also an amazing opportunity to gain research experience. My experience working with children has primarily focused on the educational side, and I have seen how important it is for educators to understand how a child develops in order to help the child reach their full potential. I hope that by learning more about language development in children that I can become a better educator as well as gain valuable experience in the research field.
David Mena, Undergraduate Research Assistant
I am a third-year student at UC Davis studying Spanish and Cognitive Science. I am from San Juan Capistrano in Orange County. While at UC Davis, I have found a huge interest in learning about the capability of human beings to be able to learn a language and even be able to master two languages at a young age. I have worked with middle school student in the past and I can see a need for future educators in the field of language acquisition. I would like to pursue higher education in the field of linguistics to further expand my knowledge in how it is that language is acquired and how to be able to change current teaching techniques to help students with difficulty acquiring a second language at school. The Language Learning Lab is my first step towards understanding how language acquisition works especially in children and it is also introducing me to research. With the skills learned in this lab, I hope to be able to conduct on my own in the future. I am very excited to be able apart of the Language Learning Lab!
Grace Katzenson, Undergraduate Research Assist
I am a junior transfer student at UC Davis majoring in Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior and minoring in Sociology. My interest in language development stems from my international background. I was born in the United States but have lived in Turkey, Germany and the Netherlands and traveled extensively in these regions. Therefore, I have been around bilingual and multilingual people for the majority of my life. I am planning to attend medical school and become a physician, and I strongly believe the skills and experiences learned in the Language Learning Lab will help me become a stronger doctor. Outside of the lab, I am the Chair of Osteopathic Medicine (D. O.) for the UC Davis Pre-Health Conference as well as a member of Phi Delta Epsilon International Medical Fraternity.
Kaija Holland, Undergraduate Research Assist
I am a second-year undergraduate student double majoring in Psychology and English at UC Davis. My experiences working with children have made me especially interested in research regarding developmental psychology and the acquisition of linguistic and social processes. My motivation in joining the Language Learning Lab stems from these interests, and I am excited to research how children interact with and learn from the world around them! I am fascinated by the psychology behind how children acquire language and social skills, and I hope to apply what I learn in a future career. I plan to attend graduate school with an emphasis in either developmental or school psychology, so this opportunity will allow me to better understand and work with children either in a clinical or educational setting. Outside of academics, I enjoy hiking, reading, spending time with friends, and traveling.