Lab Members

Graduate Students

Erik Herbst, M.A. 
EriksquareI am a first-year Master’s student in Psychology and recent member of the lab. I recently graduated from the University of Texas at Austin, where I had the privilege of working with Dr. Jacqueline Woolley to study how children make distinctions between fantasy and reality. My undergraduate thesis explored how children learn moral lessons from human and anthropomorphic animal characters in children’s television shows. I am particularly interested in studying the development of beliefs– particularly, the factors that determine how testimony leads children and adults to rationalize current beliefs or seriously consider alternative views. I enjoy writing, hiking, and scuba diving when I get the chance.


Julia Espinosa, M.A. 
EriksquareI recently completed my MSc in Animal Behaviour and Welfare under the direction of Dr. Lee Niel at the University of Guelph and the Ontario Veterinary College Companion Animal Behaviour and Welfare Lab. My research focused on how well humans are able to recognize and understand domestic dog fear behaviour. Before moving to Ontario, I completed a BSc in Neuroscience at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor, where I had the opportunity to work with Dr. Barbara Smuts researching dog play behaviour and visual signalling. In 2015, I extended the scope of our research with a 6-month visit to the Clever Dog Lab and Wolf Science Center at the University of Veterinary Medicine in Vienna, Austria. As a new member of the lab here at U of T, I am looking forward to expanding my investigation of dog behaviour and cognition. In my free time, I enjoy Latin American dancing, cycling, photography, hanging out with Winnie the Corgi (photo featured), and going to see live dance and music performances.


Lab Manager

Kay Otsubo, Lab Manager 
JuliesquareI recently completed my Honours Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science at the University of Toronto. Currently, I am the lab manager for both the Buchsbaum CocoDev Lab and the Finn LAND Lab, as well as the manager for the Child Study Centre at UofT. By working in this lab, I have had the opportunity to combine my passion for social cognition research with my love for working with children. My research interests include how children learn from other people given various social cues and how children develop complex cognitive abilities, such as Theory of Mind, to assist them in these social situations. In the future, I hope to pursue graduate school in developmental psychology.

You can reach me at

Undergraduate Students

Justine Biado, Research Assistant
TheresaI am a fourth year undergraduate student pursuing a specialist degree in Psychology at the University of Toronto. I enjoy being involved in various labs focusing on developmental psychology, as I hope to pursue a future career in this field. Along with this lab, I am also a research assistant at the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education. These labs have given me the opportunity to explore different research questions surrounding child development and this actually jump started my decision to build a career in developmental psychology. I am so excited to to learn about child cognitive development and expand my knowledge of this field in more ways than one. In my spare time, I love to play different instruments, play board games, or just hang out with friends and family!

Maureen Huang, Research Assistant
TheresaI am going into my second year at UofT, and I wish to pursue a specialist in Psychology as well as a minor in Education and society. I love working with children, and before entering university I volunteered with the Big Brother Big Sister Program as well with my city in volunteer programs. I am hoping to enhance my lab skills, and learn more about the cognition processes in children. In the future I hope to practice play therapy, and in my down time I enjoy hairstyling, watching Marvel movies, reading, as well as exploring and traveling.

Delphine Ji, Work-Study Student
AmanadaI’m a second year student at the University of Toronto, doing a specialist in psychology and a neuroscience major. Currently working with the cognitive development lab as an ROP299 student, I hope to pursue and study the cognitive functions and psychological development of the brain. I am currently working with the children’s dependency lab and love working with the kids. I have previously volunteered with various children’s summer camps, and have researched in the genetics labs at UNBC. Outside the lab, I love playing badminton, delegating in Model UN, and photography.

Nishat Kazi, Research Opportunity Program student
Amanada I am a third year undergraduate student pursuing a Psychology specialist and a major in Neuroscience. Alongside, my Education & Society minor has strengthened my passion for developmental psychology and love for kids; I am personally inspired by the reward it is to motivate children to achieve their fullest potential. In my spare time, I love to go to the gym, do activist work, and laugh over an episode of the Real Housewives of Atlanta. Fun fact: I still listen to music on my iPod touch (4th generation).

Katrina Palad, Research Assistant
AmanadaI recently completed my HBSc in Psychology and Health Studies (Population Health) at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus. My research interests mainly focus on social cognition and the development of Theory of Mind in children. In addition, I am interested in  how children use their environment to influence their own actions and decision-making processes. I have been working and volunteering with children since I was in elementary school. However, my interest in working with children in a clinical aspect has been influenced through both my experience as an Assistant Teacher at the UofT daycare, as well as my experience volunteering at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre. In the future, I hope to attend graduate school for Clinical Child Psychology. I look forward to expanding my knowledge about developmental psychology, and gaining more research experience using computational techniques within this lab. Aside from work and volunteering, I enjoy singing, going to the gym, and watching movies.

Alexandra Pavel, Undergraduate Student
AmanadaI’m a third year student at Trinity College in the University of Toronto, majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology. My interests encompass understanding the pathways of the brain in tandem with the rest of the body; especially in terms of neurological disorders such as Alzheimer’s, a passion that began while volunteering at Baycrest Health Science Centre. Previous research experience includes working under Dr. Natasha Leighl in the Lung Oncology Department at Princess Margaret Hospital, and at the Wasser Pain Management Centre in Mount Sinai Hospital. My interest in gaining knowledge about child cognitive development began when I took PSY312, and I am very excited to begin working in the CoCoDev Lab!

Madeline Pelgrim, NSERC Student
AmanadaI am a second year undergraduate student pursuing a double major in animal physiology and psychology, with an immunology minor. My main research interest lies in canine cognition. From a young age I have had a passion for animals, and I have always been interested in learning more about how they learn and think, and how those processes differ from our own. To expand on my love for animals, I’m currently a foster parent for the Toronto Humane Society, and an active volunteer with the Toronto Wildlife Centre. Outside of the lab and volunteering, I love to scuba dive, cook, read, and do yoga.

Ming Feng Wan, Work-Study Student
TheresaI am a third-year student currently pursuing a double major in Computer Science and Economics. During my first research position in a molecular evolutionary biology lab, I have come up with the notion of incorporating software design into natural science research for a safer and more labor-saving research environment. Joining this lab enables me to revitalize my inspiration for enabling researchers to spend their brainpower more on research concepts and less on tedious and repetitive labour work – and such revitalization pushes me into my research work which involves replacing human labour with software made with the emerging computer vision technology. In my spare time, I enjoy watching movies and reading books on science, literature, and economics.

Yvonne Wang, UTEA Student
AmanadaI am going into my second year at UofT. I wish to pursue a double major in Psychology and Molecular Genetics. I am still a bit indecisive on what I want to do in the future, but I am certain that I wish to continue working with the team after my ROP299 course is ended. Before coming into this lab, I have volunteered for three years in an organization which teaches skiing to children with disabilities. I love working with children, and have extra patience for them. I love, sometimes jealous of, their naive and curious characteristics. In my free time, I love singing and watching drama.

Lab Alumni

Former Post-Doctoral Researcher
Dr. Emma Tecwyn

Former Lab Managers
Julia Buthmann
Alyssa Payne
Theresa Pham

Former Research Assistants
Aparajita Bhandari, Leah Brainin, Samuel Clarke, Tyler Delmore, Nina Esmail, Aarushi Gupta, Christine Heighton, Andrea Ho, Yating Ho, Maliha Imami, Irene Jiang, Elina Kadriu, Nechama (Nikki) Kaiser, Lucy Li, Qiu (Flora) Liu, Alessia Manzoli, Samantha Mekhuri, Melanie Mescarenhas, Amanda Nickerson, Humna Noman, Natalia Robert Nunez, Surabhi Ojha, Shireen Parimoo, Julia Pearce, Stephanie Rizzetto, Jennifer Kate Toulmin, Samantha Kwan, Jenny Shao, Aaron Philipp-Muller, Pingki Mazumder, Sarah Marton, Gloria Mariyadas, Hazel Hou, Sandy Chao, Kiah Caneira, Olivia Arski