Lindsey Powell 

Principal Investigator  |  ljpowell@ucsd.edu

I study the early development of social cognition and motivation.  How do infants and young children understand others' minds, interactions, and relationships?  What motivates them to attend to and engage with social partners?  How do we develop the abilities to cooperate, communicate, and learn from each other in just the first few years of life? 

Alexis Smith-Flores 

Graduate Student  |  alexis-smith@ucsd.edu

My research investigates the intersection of socio-emotional development and cognition. Specifically, how does children’s understanding of others’ emotions, and evaluation of social interactions, shape their representations of objects and other agents.

Lauren Smith

Graduate Student  |  l7smith@ucsd.edu

My research examines the emergence of visual and motor behaviors related to joint attention in infants with a familial history of autism. 

Bill Pepe 

Graduate Student  |  wpepe@ucsd.edu

My research examines how children identify people as being affiliated and/or belonging to a group, as well as the resultant attitudes and beliefs they express regarding affiliated dyads, and in/out-group members. 

Wenhao (James) Qi

Graduate Student  |  wqi@ucsd.edu

I’m a fourth-year graduate student in Psychology. My long-term research goal is to build human-like machines. My current research studies how people make welfare tradeoffs with other people. I’m starting to transition to work on inductive program synthesis. I completed my undergraduate degree in Automation at Tsinghua University in China.


Gabe Bonamy

I’m a recently graduated student from UCSD with a Bachelor of Science in Clinical Psychology and a minor in general biology. I am passionate about all things psychology! I study empathy and social cognition in infants and children. Outside of school, I enjoy baking, gaming, watching TV shows, dancing, and hanging out with friends!

Jamie Park

I'm a third-year undergraduate majoring in Clinical Psychology. I'm passionate about learning more about social and emotional development in children! Aside from academics, I enjoy writing stories, listening to music, and going on arbitrary adventures!

Sophie Mazor

Hi! My name is Sophie and I'm a fourth-year student at UCSD majoring in Cognitive Science with a specialization in Neuroscience. I'm primarily interested in how neural mechanisms contribute to causal reasoning and social judgements. After graduation, I plan to further my experience in developmental research and pursue a PhD. In my free time, I love to dance, go to the beach, travel, and spend time with friends.

Jonathan Shlesinger

Hi! I'm a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Psychology with a specialization in developmental psychology. I am passionate about childhood development and how children learn to navigate the social world. In my free time, I love to run, play tennis, cook, and have my friends teach me how to surf!

Nico Navarro

I am a Third Year undergraduate student majoring in Clinical Psychology and minoring in Global Health. I am interested in childhood psychological development, especially how children perceive various activities, people and cultures. Outside of school, I like reading, getting lost in San Diego, binging tv shows and spending time with my friends. 

Hannah Meza

Hi! My name is Hannah Meza, and I am a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Psychology with a specialization in Clinical Psychology. I am passionate to learn about differences in neurodiverse and neurotypical children’s social development. In the future, I hope to help others discover their full potential through psychotherapy. Outside of research, I enjoy being outdoors, journaling, discovering new coffee shops, and spending time with my cat! 

Seaera Juarez

I am a fourth year undergraduate student majoring in clinical psychology and minoring in human developmental sciences. I am passionate about how children make sense of their social environment and partners. I am also interested in abnormal behavior in children and adolescents. In my free time, I enjoy volunteering with the houseless population in San Diego, reading, playing guitar, and skateboarding. 

Anushka Laha

I’m a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience. I’m passionate about the socio-emotional development of children, specifically its intersection with art/music exposure, and hope to work in the field of child psychology in the future. Most of my free time is spent dancing, baking, or exploring new cafes!

Majo Guerrero

I am senior majoring in Clinical Psychology at UCSD.  I have always believed that childhood is the most critical phase of life and dream of becoming a child therapist someday. I am interested in understanding how and when children perceive and categorize gender.  

Leslie Zecaida

I am a third-year undergraduate student majoring in clinical psychology. I am interested in learning about children's learning and their social interactions. After graduating, I plan to attend graduate school for school psychology. Outside of school, I enjoy reading, crocheting, and spending time with friends and family!

Carlos Aguilar

My research interests are on neural development hindrances and more specifically embryology with the development of the central nervous system  involving the spina bifida, anencephaly, and encephalocele.

Something About Me: I have suffered from severe migraines since I was a child, and since then, I have pursued neuroscience research to understand neurological disorders and diseases in children. Aside from studying neuroscience, I am a Wellness Peer Educator, play club water polo at UCSD, play the electric guitar, and enjoy cooking.

Shyla Sullivan

Hi! I'm a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Human Developmental Sciences and Psychology. I am passionate about studying cognitive and social development in children and interested in how they perceive the world and interact with others. In my free time, I enjoy watching the sunset, discovering new music to add to my many playlists, and going thrifting with my friends!

Angelina Borrero

Hello! My name is Angelina and I am currently a third-year undergraduate student majoring in Psychology with a specialization in Clinical Psychology! Plus a minor in Global Health. I am interested in the ways children establish relationships and interact with the always-changing world around them. After undergrad, I hope to pursue a PhD and work with children in a clinical environment! Outside of academics, I enjoy going to concerts with friends, cafe hopping, and collecting stationery. 

Lauren Beers

Hi! I’m Lauren and I’m a fourth-year undergraduate student majoring in Clinical Psychology. I am interested in child development and social interactions and psychological factors that affect performance in athletes. In my free time I love playing soccer, hanging out with my dog Cleo, reading, and spending time with family and friends.

Leah Schneider

Howdy! My name is Leah, and I am in my third year of college majoring in developmental psychology. A study that really got me interested in psychology was the Visual Cliff study done by Gibson & Walk. From there my interest in children's minds, how they learn and behave, and understanding their development across all aspects flourished! When I'm not in the classroom or lab, I enjoy going outside/being with nature, trying new foods, art, listening to music, and cooking. I also work at In-N-Out!

Eliana Mejia

Hello! I am a Second Year undergraduate student majoring in Psychology and am interested in child development; specifically how children learn to navigate social interactions. In my free time, I enjoy reading and exploring new parts of the city with friends! 

Makena Weber

Hi! My name is Makena and I’m a second-year student here at UCSD majoring in clinical psychology with a minor in biology. I’m passionate about how children learn and how their minds develop from a young age and am interested in how certain events provoke that development. I’m from Seattle and in my free time I like to run and go hiking and camping.

Kaylie Robertson

Hey! I am a third-year undergraduate psychology major with a minor in human developmental sciences.  In the future, I plan to earn my PSyD to practice clinical psychology with the focus on children and adolescents. I am a firm believer that childhood and adolescence are pivotal stages that shape one's life trajectory. In my free time, I enjoy going to the beach, playing with my wiener dog, running, reading, and  spending time with family and friends!

SoCal Lab Socials!


Adena Schachner (UCSD)

Ed Vul (UCSD)

Leslie Carver (UCSD)

Piotr Winkielman (UCSD)

Sohee Ahn (UCSD)

Andrew Marin (UCSD)

Simon Fei (UCSD)

Bria Long (Stanford University/UCSD)

ManyBabies Teams (2, 3-NIRS, 4, 5-meta)

Rebecca Saxe (MIT)

Hilary Richardson (University of Edinburgh)

Brandon Woo (Harvard University/UCSB)

Ashley Thomas (Harvard University)

Elizabeth Spelke (Harvard University)

Mina Cikara (Harvard University)

Leyla Isik (Johns Hopkins University)

Desmond Ong (UT Austin)

Julian Jara-Ettinger (Yale University)

Moira Dillon (NYU)



Madison Pesowski - now an assistant professor at the University of the Fraser Valley 

Lab Coordinators

Paloma Iñiguez (2020-2022) - now a PhD student in developmental psychology at UC Merced

Meghan Pierce (2022-2023) - now an MsC student at University of Edinburgh

STARS Summer Interns

Jazlyn Armendariz (2020) - California State University, Northridge  

Natalie Gevoglanian (2020) - California State University, Northridge  

Joanna Ramirez (2021) - California State University, Northridge  

Kelsea Jackson (2021) - Spelman College

Mi'Anjel Jack (2021) - Xavier University of Louisiana 

Sian E. Lee (2022) - Spelman College

Victoria Fawcette (2022) - California State University, Northridge

Kevin Soto (2023) - University of California, San Diego

Dasyia Kee (2023) - Spelman College

Stephanie Washburn (2023) - University of Central Florida

Veronica Gutierrez (2023) - California State University, Northridge

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Juliana Gutierrez - B.A. in Psychology 

Justine Wang - B.S. in Psychology 

Anne Abney - B.A. in Social Psychology 

Haley Amin - B.A. in Psychology 

Michelle Posada - B.S. in Clinical Psychology 

Carmen Blum - B.A. in Psychology 

Anushka Bajaj - B.A. in Psychology 

Emma Yu - visiting undergrad from Boston University (currently a lab manager at Harvard)

Muneeb Afnani - visiting undergrad from University of the Pacific

Alisa Phung - B.A. in Psychology 

Michael Lin - B.S. in Psychology (expected Spring 2024) 

Michelle Posada - B.S. in Psychology

Michelle Vu - B.S. in Human Biology (currently a medical student at Western Michigan University)

Isabel Herrera - B.A. in Psychology (currently a lab manager of the DOSC Lab at UC Irvine)

Deisy Martinez - B.S. in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychology (currently a lab manager of the LDM Lab at NYU)

Angie Gross - B.A. in Psychology (currently a lab manager at Wash U)

Khanh Nguyen - B.S. in Cognitive Psychology and Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience (currently a graduate student at SDSU)

Jenny Yue - B.S. in Developmental Psychology and Neurobiology (currently a graduate student at Yale)

Cayla Regas - B.S. in Psychology (expected Spring 2024)

Kanako Yoshikawa - B.A. in Psychology (expected Spring 2024)

Julia Serrano - B.A. in Psychology (expected Spring 2024)

Yasmine Lopez - B.S. in Clinical Psychology

Naomi Batarse - B.S. in Clinical Psychology

Marissa Garcia - B.S. in Human Biology

Ana Correa-avila-robb - B.S. in Clinical Psychology

Boyu Wang - B.S. in Psychology and Applied Math

Uijin Lee - B.S. in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience (expected Spring 2026)

Gaby Silva - B.S. in Clinical Psychology (expected Spring 2025)

Elysia Kim - B.S. in Clinical Psychology (expected Spring 2024)

Charlie Necor - B.S. in Cognitive-Behavioral Neuroscience (expected Spring 2025)