Who We Are

At the Center for Early Childhood Research, we are interested in understanding how infants and children learn and develop. Our researchers address a wide range of developmental areas, from the best ways to teach math to second graders to the ways that young infants learn how to use objects.
Sian Beilock, Ph.D
Professor of Psychology

Sian Beilock has been a professor in the department of Psychology at the University of Chicago since 2005.  She graduated with at B.S. in Coginitive Science from the University of California, San Diego and received her Ph.D in Psychology and Kinesiology from Michigan State University.  Her research program sits at the intersection of cognitive science and education. She explores the cognitive and neural substrates of skill learning as well as the mechanisms by which performance breaks down in high-stress or high-pressure situations.  she uses converging methodologies in her research – ranging from behavioral performance measures (e.g., reaction time and accuracy), to physiological measures of stress (e.g., salivary cortisol), to neuroimaging techniques (e.g., fMRI). In addition to answering basic questions about cognition, the goal of her research program is to inform educational practice and policy.

Jean Decety, Ph.D
Irving B. Harris Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry

Child NeuroSuite

Jean Decety (Ph.D. in neurobiology from the University Claude Bernard, France) is Irving B. Harris Professor of Psychology and Psychiatry at the University of Chicago. He is a leading scholar on the social and affective neuroscience of empathy, morality, and prosocial behavior, as well as other topics related to neurobiological underpinnings of social cognition. His work has led to new understanding of empathy, affective processes, and moral decision-making in typically developing individuals as well as psychopaths. His research uses neuroimaging techniques (functional MRI and high-density EEG) and genetics to examine how biological and social factors interact in contributing to empathy and the motivation to care for the well-being of others.

Dr. Decety is the President-elect of the Society for Social Neuroscience. He recently edited the Oxford Handbook of Social Neuroscience (2011) and Empathy from Bench to Bedside (2012) at MIT Press. He is currently preparing a new volume on The Moral Brain at MIT Press.

Susan Goldin-Meadow, Ph.D
Bearsdley Ruml Distinguished Service Professor

Goldin-Meadow Lab

Susan Goldin-Meadow is the Beardsley Ruml Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago and has been studying language learning and language creation since her Ph.D. dissertation at the University of Pennsylvania in 1975.

Professor Goldin-Meadow has served as a member of the language review panel for NIH, has been a Member-at-Large to the Section on Linguistics and Language Science in AAAS, and was part of the Committee on Integrating the Science of Early Childhood Development sponsored by the National Research Council and the Institute of Medicine and leading to the book Neurons to Neighborhoods. She is a Fellow of AAAS, APS, and APA (Divisions 3 and 7). In 2001, she was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship and a James McKeen Cattell Fellowship which led to her two recently published books, Resilience of Language and Hearing Gesture.

Susan Levine, Ph.D

Rebecca Anne Boylan Professor in Education and Society

Cognitive Development Lab

Susan Levine received her B.A. with honors from Simmons College in 1972, majoring in Psychology, Mathematics and Education, and her Ph.D. in Psychology from M.I.T. in 1976. She joined the faculty at the University of Chicago that year.

Professor Levine serves as the chair for the Department of Psychology as well as for the Developmental Psychology program at the university. She also chairs the department’s Curriculum Committee, is a member of the Committee on Early Childhood Mathematics and the Committee on Education and serves on the board of Chapin Hall.  In addition, Professor Levine is a consultant on early math for the PBS program “Sesame Street.”

Lindsey Richland, Ph.D
Assistant Professor of Comparative Human Development

Learning Lab

Dr. Richland joined the Department of Comparative Human Development and the Committee on Education at the University of Chicago in 2011. She graduated with honors from Princeton University in 1998 with a B.A. in Anthropology, and completed her Ph.D in Developmental Psychology and Cognitive Science at the University of California, Los Angeles in 2003. In 2008, she was awarded a National Academy of Education/ Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship.  Dr. Richland’s first faculty position was in the Department of Education at the University of California, Irvine from 2005-2011.

Alex Shaw, Ph.D
Assistant Professor of Psychology 

Psychology and Development (PAD) Lab 

Alex Shaw joined the faculty at The University of Chicago in 2015 as an Assistant Professor of Psychology. Broadly he is interested in how human beings navigate the complex social world by tracking each others’ reputations and by signaling to others. More specifically, he studies fairness, intellectual property, and reputation and how these things develop throughout childhood. Previously he was a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and received his Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at Yale University

Amanda Woodward, Ph.D
William S. Gray Professor of Psychology

Infant Learning and Development Lab 

Amanda Woodward is the William S. Gray Professor of Psychology and Deputy Dean for Faculty Affairs in the Division of Social Sciences. She was a founding member of the Center for Early Childhood Research. She completed her undergraduate degree at Swarthmore College in 1987 and her doctoral degree at Stanford University in 1992.  She joined the faculty at the University of Chicago in 1993.

Woodward has pioneered the development of experimental methods to investigate social cognition in infants and young children. Her research has yielded fundamental insights into infants’ social understanding and the processes that support conceptual development early in life. Woodward’s research has been recognized by a number of awards, including the Ann L. Brown Award for Excellence in Developmental Research, the APA Boyd McCandless Award for an Early Career Contribution to Developmental Psychology and the John Merck Scholars Award. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the Association for Psychological Science and the American Psychological Association, and President of the Cognitive Development Society.

Daniel Yurovsky, Ph.D

Assistant Professor of Psychology

Communication and Learning Lab

Dan Yurovsky is interested in how children’s rapid language acquisition emerges from the interaction of their learning mechanisms and the structure of their learning environments. His work combines behavioral and computational analysis of infants’, children’s, and adults’ learning mechanisms with corpus analyses of the language children hear and the world they see.

Dr. Yurovsky is an active contributor to Wordbank, an open repository for developmental vocabulary data. He has also helped to develop some R packages you might find useful. Check out tidybootwordbankr, and childesr. His lab is a contributor to the ManyBabies project, and he is enthusiastic about reproducibility and open science more broadly.