Below are answers to frequently asked questions.
What does your lab study?
My lab focuses on how humans understand social relationships. We mostly work with infants and children but I'm also interested in questions that involve other species, adults, and adolescents. My work is informed by work in Anthropology, Sociology, Comparative Psychology, and Evolutionary Biology. I'm interested in big questions like, 'What is a social relationship?'; 'What is caregiving?'; 'How do people think about social change?' I usually do behavioral studies, but am open to new methods, including neuro-imaging and computational models.
Some specific questions we plan to investigate next:
1. How do demographics (e.g., race, gender, language spoken, etc) of the people in social interactions affect early expectations about relationships? How does a child's environment/experience affect these expectations? (Builds off this projects: social intimacy paper; toddlers prefer winners).
2. How do infants learn about their social networks? What are the consequences of this type of learning? Who else do children learn from? What else do they learn? How might humans' propensity to share childcare affect this learning? (Building off this (paper))
3. How does experience with different kinds of decision-making affect children's ideas/attitudes/behavior? How do children think about social change? Do early experiences affect people's sense of agency in their relationships and social groups? Builds off this project (paper), and an in progress paper about how academics think about the social dynamics of their field.
4. Do other species represent relationships? Specifically do bonobos and dogs recognize cues of social relationships? Do they selectively learn about new social partners from people or conspecifics in their social networks? Building off all the papers listed above!
Are you taking graduate students and postdocs for 2024?
For postdocs: please contact me if you are interested in writing an NSF postdoctoral fellowship award, an NRSA or equivalent. Due to department constraints, I am very unlikely to take a graduate student for the 23-24 cycle.
What will it be like to work in your lab?
Our lab has just started. I hope that graduate students and postdocs will take an active role in creating the community of the lab, as well as establishing norms and best practices. My goal as a mentor is to create a community where my mentees feel supported and empowered. For example, something I love about science is how ideas get better by getting feedback from others, but this is only possible when there is trust in communities and relationships. I see community building as key to the creativity and critical thinking that are necessary to develop as a scientist. I am committed to addressing injustice in science (you can read my diversity statement here). I also value open science (some useful links here). More than anything, I value growth and development. I don't expect mentees to come to the lab with complete knowledge about any topic. I'm excited to work with people who are passionate about their work.
What should I do if I want to work with you?
I'm do not take meetings with prospective graduate students. But, you should feel free to email me. if you are a prospective graduate student or postdoc, I'm particularly interested in the ideas and research questions that you are most excited to work on and why I would be a good fit as a mentor. I'm excited to help others develop their own research program. I'm open to people working on new topics, not listed above, or starting on the topics listed above. I'm also very excited about potential collaborations with others.
What should I include in my application as a graduate student?
Research Interests: What are the big questions that get you excited about going to graduate school? What are examples of a few smaller more focused research questions?
Experience: What experiences have you had so far that have prepared you to be a graduate student? Note, for some students this might include things beyond 'traditional' forms of experience (e.g., being an RA). I'm interested in working with students with diverse backgrounds. Have your lived experiences informed your research questions? How? Do you have experience with open science? Is this important to you? [Note, you don't have to have the answers to all of these questions, but include them if you do!]
Fit: Why do you specifically want to work in my lab and/or in the Psychology Department at Harvard? I welcome applicants who are interested in being co-mentored by other faculty, so please feel free to talk about more than one faculty member in your application.