Graduate Students

Natalie Dowling

Natalie Dowling

I am a PhD candidate in the Department of Comparative Human Development studying the development of multimodal discourse, higher-order thinking, and pragmatic language skills between early childhood and adolescence, taking an interdisciplinary research approach to the study of communicative development. I use naturalistic interactions between children and caregivers to examine the functions of co-speech gesture as children become collaborative conversationalists. My work combines elements of conversation analysis with formal speech and gesture coding to investigate how the tools of cooperative conversation change over development.

Email: nataliegenz@uchicago.edu

Casey Ferrara

Casey Ferrara

I am interested in the intersection of language and cognition and exploring their overlap through studying sign and spoken language development, the role of gesture in sign vs. spoken languages, variability in language outcomes, and the effects of early linguistic environment on cognition.

Email: caseyferrara@uchicago.edu

Yağmur Deniz Kısa

Yağmur Deniz Kısa

I am interested in how people use space for thinking and communicating. One line of my work explores why people gesture when they speak and think. Another line of my work focuses on the experiential origins of spatial concepts and how spatial concepts come to structure much of abstract thought. I’m also interested in how basic aspects of visual experience may differ across ages, cultures, and history.

Email: ykisa@uchicago.edu

Anjana Lakshmi

Anjana Lakshmi

I am interested in social category and person perception information that people represent in / draw from human faces and non-verbal gestures. My current and future projects include face representations of social groups based on group membership as well as within-group status differences, and the implicit communication of stereotype content through non-verbal gestures.

Email: anjanachandran@uchicago.edu

Claire Bergey

Claire Bergey

How do we interpret meaning that goes beyond what is literally said? I study how children and adults use broad pragmatic constraints of communication to make inferences about meaning and learn about the world. My work uses experiments with children and adults, corpora of conversations, and computational modeling to trace children’s pragmatic development and better understand how we come to convey and glean such rich meanings through language. Website: https://clairebergey.net/

Email: cbergey@uchicago.edu

Xiaohan (Hannah) Guo

Xiaohan (Hannah) Guo

I am broadly interested in how students learn, think, and apply knowledge in novel situations. My current research examines the mechanisms behind gestures that promote STEM learning and the development of image memory among children.

Email: hannahguo@uchicago.edu

Michelle Madlansacay

Michelle Madlansacay

I am interested in exploring the relationship between language and learning, and identifying the verbal and nonverbal characteristics of human language that can be considered universal. My current work investigates the role of parent interactions in the communicative development of deaf and hearing children. 

Email: mmadlansacay@uchicago.edu