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

Olivia Arski, Undergraduate
ShireenI am a second-year undergraduate student pursuing a specialist in psychology at the University of Toronto. In addition to my experience and enjoyment of working with children, I am passionate about research in numerous fields of psychology including those of causal learning, reasoning, and the development of cognitive functions. I am very excited to delve further into these interests as a ROP student at the Computational Cognitive Development Lab. In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, debating, soccer, and writing.

Justine Biado, Work-Study Student
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!

Kiah Caneira, Research Opportunity Program Student
TheresaI am a third-year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto pursuing a specialist in psychology and a major in neuroscience. After teaching young children piano throughout high school, I developed an interest developmental cognition. Although the world of research is an interesting one, and despite my interest in the human brain, I hope to become a veterinary physician someday. I am grateful to be working with the Computational Cognitive Development Lab and plan to continue with them for the remainder of my undergraduate career. In my down time, I like to draw, play piano/ Irish flute, and watch space documentaries.

Sandy Chao, Undergraduate
TheresaI recently completed my Honours Bachelor of Science degree in the Psychology Specialist Co-op Program at the University of Toronto Scarborough Campus. My love for psychology, child development, and education has sparked my interest to volunteer in the Computational Cognitive Development Lab. I am fascinated by how children’s cognitive abilities develop overtime and various learning processes that occur in the brain. Through work and volunteer experiences in camp, schools, hospitals and communities, I am super lucky to do what I love – working with children and families. In the future, I hope to pursue graduate school in School Psychology and be involved in children’s learning experience in an educational environment. In my spare time, I enjoy outdoor adventures, play music (piano & flute), explore different cultural cuisines and learn different languages. Feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn or email me at

Hazel Hou, Undergraduate
AmanadaI am a fourth-year student pursing a double major in psychology and economics. Through my experience of observing children in the lab course PSY319, I found my research interests in Developmental psychology. I am particularly interested in how children make decisions based on the limited information from external environment. Now, I am working as a research assistant in the Dependency Study. In my spare time, I love singing, listening to music and cooking. I am excited to gain more research experience in CocoDev Lab.

Delphine Ji, Research Opportunity Program 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.

Samantha Kwan, Undergraduate
AmanadaI am a fourth-year undergraduate student at the University of Toronto double majoring in Psychology and Economics. My major interest is to work with children, especially those who suffer from developmental impairments. I have worked with developmental clinics in Hong Kong, and gained experience relating to children with ASD, ADHD, selective mutism, and speech delays. Being a research assistant at the Computational Cognitive Development Lab, I wish to further enrich my knowledge with child’s development, and applying these skills for research purposes. In my spare time, I like to watch movies and travel to new places.

Gloria Mariyadas, Undergraduate
AmanadaI am in my fourth year of undergraduate study at the University of Toronto. I am pursuing a double major in Psychology and Physiology. Since I have experience working with physiological research from a previously completed second-year ROP experience, I wanted to get a taste of child cognitive development research. Hence, I have joined as a volunteer research assistant at the CocoDev Lab to fulfill that goal. In addition to volunteering at the lab, I will be spending my time playing tennis and buying makeup. I hope to get plenty of experience working with other lab members studying children, as I continue pursuing my studies.

Sarah Marton, Independent Project Student
SarahSarah is an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto in her third year of study. With membership at Trinity College, she is completing an Hons. B.Sc. with a double major in Psychology and Ethics, Society and Law. In her second year at the CoCoDev Lab, Sarah is currently an RA in the Canine Cognition Lab and previously served as an ROP student. In the past Sarah has worked with young children as an academic tutor and ski instructor, and has a love of both children and dogs. In her free time Sarah is a mentor for the Research Opportunity Program at the University, a sister of the Pi Beta Phi Fraternity for Women, and an avid traveller. She is also the proud new-owner of a Goldendoodle puppy, named Joey.

Pingki Mazumder, Independent Project Student
AmanadaI am an undergraduate student studying Psychology, Health and Disease, and Immunology. Through working as a tutor and camp counselor for youth, I became interested in how children learn, reason, and use information from others to form their own opinions. Being a research assistant at a lab that intersects these interests is very exciting for me. I have been a member of the lab since May 2015, and I look forward to continuing to learn about cognition and psychology research.

Katrina Palad, Undergraduate
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.

Madeline Pelgrim, Work-Study 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.

Aaron Philipp-Muller, Mini-Thesis Student
AmanadaI am a 4th year undergraduate student perusing a research specialist degree in psychology. In the past I volunteered and completed an internship at Toronto Rehabilitation Institute, looking at multi-sensory integration in virtual environments under the supervision of Dr. Behrang Keshavarz and Dr. Jennifer Campos. I also completed an independent study under the supervision of Dr. Martin Ralph, modelling the phenotype of the Period-2 mutation in dopamine-dependant circadian rhythms. I am really interested in the topic of explore versus exploit as well as over-imitation and over-hypothesis. I am therefore very excited to be at the CocoDev Lab. In my free time I love playing guitar and piano, canoe trips and long bicycle rides!

Jenny Shao, Undergraduate
AmanadaHi, my name is Jenny. I am in my fourth year of undergraduate studies at UofT St. George campus. Currently, I am double majoring in Psychology and Employment Relations, with a minor in Education. My research interest lies in developmental psychology in young children. I am excited to join the Computational Cognitive Development Lab and have the opportunity to work with a team of excellent researchers!

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, Independent Project 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 Undergraduate Volunteer Research Assistants
Aparajita Bhandari, Nafisa Bhuiyan, 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