Brianna McMillan, Graduate Student


B.S., 2008, University of Arizona (Psychology)

M.S., 2012, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Psychology)

bmcmillan@wisc.edu


I am interested in the dynamics that both hinder and facilitate early word learning in children. Currently I am studying how children learn words in environments where there are multiple people talking. While it is not uncommon for children to learn words in a complex auditory environment, the extent to which this complexity hinders or helps the development of language still remains uncertain.

 
Chris Potter, Graduate Student


B.A., 2008, Stanford University (Psychology & Spanish)

M.S., 2012, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Psychology)
cepotter@wisc.edu


I am interested in the differences in acquiring first and second languages, particularly with respect to individual variability in learning. How does adults’ learning differ from children’s? Why is it that some adults seem to have a harder time than others when they try to learn a second language and how does this ability relate to other cognitive skills?

 
Erica Wojcik, Graduate Student


B.A., 2009, Princeton University (Psychology)

M.S., 2010, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Psychology)
ehwojcik@wisc.edu

website


As any parent knows, infants learn an incredible number of words in their first two years of life. Their word knowledge, however, consists of more than just associations between a label (i.e."dog"), and an object (i.e. furry, slobbery four-legged animal). I am interested in how infants learn the complex knowledge that makes up their semantic network. Currently, I am working on projects looking at both early semantic knowledge and how that knowledge is learned.

 

Tianlin Wang, Graduate Student


B.S., 2005, Nankai University (Physics & Psychology)
twang23@wisc.edu


I am interested in how infants use phonological cues in language learning. My current research focuses on how babies and adults behave when they are in language environments that are linguistically different from English, i.e., a tone language. I am co-advised by Jenny Saffran and Mark Seidenberg.

 
Ami Regele, Undergraduate Student

aregele@wisc.edu


I am currently a senior majoring in Psychology with a certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies. I love working with kids and have a strong interest in how they learn and acquire language. Therefore, I am thrilled to have this opportunity to work in this lab. After graduation, I plan to go to graduate school and continue in research.

 
 

Jenny Saffran, Principal Investigator

College of Letters & Science Professor of Psychology

Ph.D. 1997, University of Rochester


How do children acquire their native language? My research focuses on the kinds of learning abilities required to master the complexities of language. Three broad issues characterize my work. One line of research asks what kinds of learning emerge in infancy. A second line of research probes the biases that shape human learning abilities, and the relationship between these biases and the structure of human languages. A third issue concerns the extent to which the learning abilities underlying this process are specifically tailored for language acquisition. Related research concerns infant music perception, and the relationship between music and language learning.


Phone: (608) 262-9942
Email:
jsaffran@wisc.edu
Office: 528 Psychology

Hilary Stein, Undergraduate Student

hstein@wisc.edu


I am currently a senior majoring in Psychology and getting a certificate in Criminal Justice. Becoming involved in the Infant Learning Lab has been one of the most rewarding experiences I’ve had throughout college. Not only do I get to work with children and their families, but I’ve also acquired amazing research skills through this opportunity while staying fascinated by child language acquisition. I plan to go to graduate school to get my Masters in Clinical Social Work and hopefully later succeed within the mental health field to help as many people as I can.

 
Courtney V
enker, Graduate Student


B.A., 2004, Truman State University (Communication Disorders)

M.A., CCC-SLP, 2007, University of Illinois (Speech & Hearing Science)

cgerickson@wisc.edu


I am a graduate student in the Department of Communicative Disorders, working with Susan Ellis Weismer and Jenny Saffran. My research focuses on characterizing the learning mechanisms that underlie atypical language acquisition, in hopes of better understanding why some children have such difficulty acquiring language. I am interested in a variety of clinical populations, including children with autism spectrum disorders and children with specific language delays. As a licensed and certified speech-language pathologist, I am also interested in delineating the impact of adult language input on language development in children with developmental delays. My dissertation work focuses on statistical word learning and non-social visual attention in children with autism, using real-time eye-gaze methodology.

 

                                        Erin Long, Laboratory Manager


                                                    B.A., 2012, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Psychology & Spanish)

                                                    Phone: (608) 263-5876

                                                    Email: babies@waisman.wisc.edu

                                                    Office: 501 Waisman Center



Lynn Perry, Postdoctoral Research Associate

      

B.S., 2006, Indiana University (Psychology)

M.A., 2009, University of Iowa (Psychology)

Ph.D., 2012, University of Iowa (Psychology: Developmental Science)

lkperry@wisc.edu

lynnkperry.org/Home.html


Children are amazing word learners, yet it is unclear what the ‘know’ in their

memory for a new name. For example, when a child learns the word ‘banana’,

has she learned something about its color, its shape, or both? Furthermore, little is known about individual differences in this knowledge, and what drives such differences: for example, do differences in existing vocabulary knowledge lead to differences in what children remember about new words? My research in the Infant Learning Lab explores children’s attention to and memory for objects that they can already name (e.g. ‘apple’) and of novel objects for which we teach children the name (e.g. ‘wug’). I am co-advised by Jenny Saffran, Gary Lupyan, and Mark Seidenberg.

Jessie Abrams, Undergraduate Student

jabrams2@wisc.edu


I am currently a senior majoring in Rehabilitation Psychology and I hope to go to graduate school for Occupational Therapy. I have gained many valuable skills working the the lab and everyday I learn more about research and child language acquisition! I love babies so I am thrilled to be here!

 
Courtney Thom, Undergraduate Student

cthom@wisc.edu

I am a senior majoring in Psychology with a certificate in Gender and Women’s Studies. I have always been fascinated with children and love being around them, so working in this lab is the perfect opportunity for me. I am particularly interested in children on the autism spectrum. After graduation, I plan on attending graduate school to get a degree in Developmental Psychology.  I cannot wait to get first-hand experience in the lab!


 
Rachel Raczynski, Undergraduate Student



I am currently a junior majoring in Psychology. I love working with children of all ages, and am very interested to learn more about how they acquire and understand language. Working in the Infant Learning Lab is a great opportunity for anyone who's interested in the subject to get some first-hand research experience. In the future, I would love to work with children in some sort of school setting, as either a school psychologist or guidance counselor. Until then, I'm enjoying every moment of my experience here at the lab!

 
Elizabeth Premo, Undergraduate Student

epremo@wisc.edu


I am a junior majoring in Psychology and working towards a certificate in Educational Policy Studies. I have always enjoyed spending time with babies and toddlers, so I am very excited to have this opportunity to engage in research designed to improve our understanding of how children are able to learn the complexities of human language! After graduation, I hope to continue my education by working towards a graduate degree in cognitive science or educational psychology. I can’t wait to become more involved in the amazing work being done here at the Infant Learning Lab!

 
Hannah Von Behren, Undergraduate Student

hvonbehren@wisc.edu


I am currently a senior majoring is Psychology. Working with children is a passion that I’ve had for many years; children can brighten anyone’s day! I’m ecstatic to have the opportunity to work with children in the Infant Learning Lab and explore opportunities in research. I hope to continue on to graduate school in counseling psychology. Eventually I want to open my own counseling practice that works with families and children.

 
Shelby Adler, Undergraduate Student

smadler2@wisc.edu


I am a junior majoring in psychology. I plan to go grad school or med school in the future. I have always loved kids, but what really sparked my interest was working with a kid going into kindergarten who had autism during the summer of my freshman year. I am very excited to learn more about children and I know I will get a lot out of working here!

 

Anthony Goodwin, Postdoctoral Research Associate


B.A., 2006, Arizona State University (Psychology)

M.A., 2010, University of Connecticut (Developmental Psychology)

Ph.D., 2013, University of Connecticut (Developmental Psychology)

agoodwin@waisman.wisc.edu

https://sites.google.com/site/anthonygoodwin


I am interested in the processes that children use to acquire language, and how these are different or similar in children who are developing atypically. I study grammatical and lexical development in children with autism spectrum disorders, and how their language is influenced by other aspects of their development (e.g., cognitive abilities), as well as their linguistic environment (e.g., parents’ speech and gestures). I am co-advised by Jenny Saffran and Susan Ellis Weismer.

Ron Pomper, Graduate Student


B.A., 2011, Stanford University (Human Biology)

ron.pomper@gmail.com


Word learning involves more than just being able to identify an object.  For example, apples can be eaten, are fruits, grow on trees, and come in different colors.  I am interested in studying how children learn these other dimensions of a word’s meaning.  My current work focuses on whether children have difficulty flexibly shifting between these different dimensions of a word’s meaning and if this difficulty relates to other developing cognitive skills like attentional control.

Martin Zettersten, Graduate Student


1st St.ex., 2013, Heidelberg University (Mathematics, Linguistics, Psychology)

zettersten@wisc.edu


Children learn about the world in a rich social environment where they are constantly interacting with other adults and children. How does growing up in a social world help children learn language? How does social interaction structure language input and motivate children to learn to communicate using language? In my research, I explore how social context and children's learning mechanisms and biases work together in language development. I am co-advised by Jenny Saffran and Gary Lupyan.

Ellen Breen, Undergraduate Student

epbreen@wisc.edu


I am a junior majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a certificate in Global Health. I am a flutist, and have always been interested in the many cognitive benefits and effects of music on the brain. I am interested in psycholinguistics and its relation to music in the speech, language and hearing sciences. I plan on attending grad school to become a speech pathologist, and would love to work with kids!

Emily Fisher, Undergraduate Student

ejfisher2@wisc.edu


I am a junior double majoring in Psychology and Communication Sciences and Disorders. I am very excited to work in the Infant Learning Lab because it combines interests from both of my majors. After graduating, I hope to attend graduate school to earn a degree in speech-language pathology, and eventually I would like to work as a speech-language pathologist in an elementary school setting. I love working with children and am looking forward to learning more about how they learn aspects of language!

Janine Mathee, Undergraduate Student

mathee@wisc.edu


I am a Sophomore this year, majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a certificate in Education and Educational Services. I hope to eventually go on to grad school and become a Speech-Language Pathologist, and of course work with kids! My main interest in speech and hearing sciences has to do with the incredible and fascinating ways that children acquire language. And I'm especially interested in how children with intellectual/developmental disabilities and/or hearing loss overcome those challenges and learn language in their own unique ways. I'm looking forward to learning from everyone in this lab and from these fascinating children and their incredible abilities.

Pang Xiong, Undergraduate Student

pxiong34@wisc.edu


I am a Junior double majoring in Psychology and Communicative Sciences and Disorders. I became interested in these topics when I discovered my little brother had autism. In the future, I want to work and play with children with learning or speech disorders. I love learning about child psychology, and additionally, little babies just astound me with the way they explore and experiment with the bright new world. In my eyes, they're the world's best scientists!

Lizzy Elkin, Undergraduate Student

eelkin@wisc.edu


I am currently a Junior majoring in Communication Sciences and Disorders. I love working with children, and am thrilled to have the opportunity to participate in research which focuses on the complexities of language development. My interest in children’s language acquisition stems from working as a camp counselor for children with autism, and having a younger brother who had considerable speech delay and underwent several years of speech therapy. After graduation, I plan on attending graduate school for Speech and Language Pathology, with the goal of working in a children’s hospital.

Marissa Schuh, Undergraduate Student

mrschuh@wisc.edu


I am a Junior studying Communication Sciences and Disorders with hopes of attending graduate school for Speech Language Pathology. After graduate school, I would like to work within a school setting as I have a passion for working with children and learning from them. Within the field of Communication Sciences and Disorders, I am interested in child language development and how household factors as well as parental factors play a role in that development. I also have an interest in language development in children with various developmental or cognitive disabilities, and the role that different therapies can play in their development. I look forward to expanding my knowledge about child language development during my time here in the lab!

Erika Steinbauer, Undergraduate Student

esteinbauer@wisc.edu


I am currently a junior majoring in Psychology. After my undergraduate degree, I plan on going to graduate school to earn my Psy.D. in clinical psychology with an emphasis on children with developmental disabilities. Throughout my studies I have developed an interest in developmental psychology. Since English is my second language, I am also very interested in how children acquire their first or second language. Working with children is something that I am truly passionate about, so I am thrilled to be a part of the Infant Learning Lab!

Viridiana L. Benitez, Postdoctoral Research Associate

2008 University of Houston, B.S. (Psychology)

2013 Indiana University, Ph.D.  (Developmental Psychology)

vbenitez@wisc.edu

Learning about the world requires making sense of the large amount of information that surrounds us. How do we attend to the right kinds of patterns that promote learning? How does this process change how we learn new information?  My research focuses on understanding the interaction between attention and learning processes in infants, children, and adults. I study this interaction in the context of word learning, and by examining how learning experience and development change attentional abilities. 

Tatiana Campbell, Research Specialist

B.S., 2013, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Human Development and Family Studies)

Email: tccampbell@wisc.edu


I am a recent UW - Madison graduate with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies and emphasis on Child Development. I am interested how children acquire a second language and how acquiring more than one language relates to literacy skills. I am so excited to learn more about how infants interact in their environments by learning language.