Principal Investigators

John Trueswell

Professor John Trueswell is a psycholinguist who studies language acquisition and language processing. Some of the fundamental questions that Professor Trueswell is interested in include: How do humans so effortlessly interpret utterances in real-time, using incoming speech to compute a speaker’s intended meaning? How do young children learn the meanings of words, and interpret syntactic structure? How do the processing demands of real-time interpretation influence language acquisition, and possibly shape the languages of the world? And conversely, does the language we speak change how we see and think about the world?

Personal website | johntrueswell at gmail dot com

Lila Gleitman

It is with profound sadness to report that Professor Lila Gleitman passed away August 8, 2021, at age 91. Lila was a leader in the developing field of cognitive science, and a guiding light to many in the field both personally and professionally. Please visit here and here for information on her life well lived.

Lila Gleitman was a linguist and psycholinguist whose work concerned the mental lexicon and its interface with syntax, language acquisition, and the relation between language and thought. One of her main interests concerned the architecture and semantic content of the mental lexicon, i.e., the psychological representation of the forms and meanings of words. Another major interest was in how children acquire both the lexicon and the syntactic structure of the native tongue.

Lab Manager

Heesu Yun

Heesu is the current lab manager of the Language Learning Lab. She graduated with a B.S. in Psychology from Boston College in May 2023. She has conducted research on how different linguistic structures of a first language influence the acquisition of a second language, specifically in terms of genetic, phonological, and syntactic similarities.

heesuyun at sas dot upenn dot edu

Postdoctoral Researchers

Martin Ho Kwan Ip

Martin is a postdoctoral fellow. He received his Ph.D. in Psychology from the MARCS Institute in December 2019. He is interested in how speech processing can be shaped by both language-universal mechanisms and our experience with our native language. At the Language Learning Lab, Martin studies (1) how infants and young children use cues from prosodic focus to learn and remember words and their contextual alternatives, and (2) how adult speakers across languages prioritize different information structural and phrasing cues in sentence disambiguation.

Personal website | mhkip at sas dot upenn dot edu

Tyler Knowlton

Tyler is a postdoctoral fellow. He earned his PhD in Linguistics from the University of Maryland and his BA in Cognitive Science from Johns Hopkins. His research focuses on the meanings of logical expressions like “every” and “most” and asks: What do their mental representations look like? How do the formal details of those representations affect non-linguistic cognitive systems? And what leads children to connect those particular representations with the relevant pronunciations?

Personal website | tzknowlt at sas dot upenn dot edu

Zoe Ovans

Zoe is a postdoctoral fellow. She received her Ph.D in Neuroscience & Cognitive Science from the University of Maryland and her BA in Cognitive Science and English from Johns Hopkins University. She is interested in how sentence processing interacts with extralinguistic systems, such as executive function and spatial processing. Her doctoral work focused on how our cognitive control system interacts with real-time sentence processing during development, and her postdoctoral work investigates how sentence processing interacts with spatial reasoning, as well as how children learn words and structures that express symmetrical relations.

zovans at upenn dot edu

Graduate Students

Victor Gomes

Victor is a fifth-year graduate student. He graduated from Swarthmore College in 2017 with a B.A. in cognitive science and psychology. He is interested pragmatics, expressives, negation, and how we learn the meaning of logical operators (e.g., and, or, not) more broadly. He is passionate about outreach and education, and enjoys reading about narratology and comparative mythology, but in a cool way. He is also the program coordinator for out4STEM, an afterschool program for LGBT+ teens interested in science, at the Mütter Museum.

Personal website | vgomes at upenn dot edu

Abigail Laver

Abby is a first-year graduate student. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2021 with a B.A. in Psychology. Her research investigates how children can use the first few words they’ve acquired to learn syntax and additional word meanings. She also does work on whether children have an abstract representation of symmetry that is shared between vision and language. In her free time, Abby enjoys reading, seeing the ballet and musicals, hiking, and spending time with friends and her dog.

alaver at sas dot upenn dot edu

Visiting Scholars

Albert Kim

Albert is an Associate Professor at the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of Colorado at Boulder. Previously, received Ph.D. in experimental psychology from Penn and did post-doctoral training in electro-physioogical methods at The University of Washington. His research investigates how people understand language using neuroimaging and behavioral techniques, especially scalp-recorded event-related potentials (ERPs) to study the cognitive and neural mechanisms of language processing.

Sandy LaTourrette

Sandy is a Visiting Assistant Professor in Psychology at Haverford College. His research investigates how we learn words and map them to concrete individuals and abstract concepts, as well as how learning words can shape what we learn about the world. By studying these questions from infancy into adulthood, this research provides insight into the interaction of cognitive development and language acquisition. Outside the lab, Sandy enjoys hiking, musicals, fantasy novels, and Scottish country dancing.

Personal website | alatour at sas dot upenn dot edu

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Aymeric Marcantetti

Aymeric is a junior at Penn studying Cognitive Science. He is a native French and English speaker and has learned to speak Spanish over the years. He is broadly interested in (i) language acquisition and processing in multilingual individuals and (ii) how language influences our perception of the world. In his spare time, Aymeric enjoys playing squash and trying out new restaurants.

Brillian Fu

Brillian is a sophomore at Penn studying Cognitive Science. She is native Mandarin Chinese and English speaker.

Chelsy Bunay

Chelsy is a sophomore at Penn studying Political Science and minoring in Psychology and East Asian Languages and Civilizations. She is a native Spanish and English speakers and has learned Chinese Mandarin.

Emily Bornstein

Emily is a sophomore at Penn studying English and minoring in Psychology and Hebrew. She is native Hebrew and English speaker.

Lily Futeran

Lily is a sophomore at Penn studying Psychology and minoring in Deaf Studies and Linguistics. She is a native English speaker and ASL and is interested in language acquisition process.

Sarah Yi

Sarah is a sophomore at Penn studying Psychology. She is a native Korean and English speaker and is interested in how kids learn English in a different way and how memory works in neurological processes.


Alex de Carvalho

Alex is an Associate Professor of Psychology at the Université Paris Descartes and he develops his research at the Laboratoire de Psychologie du Développement et de l’Éducation de l’enfant (LaPsyDÉ – UMR CNRS 8240). He is particularly interested in identifying the mechanisms that young children can use to learn the syntax of their native language and to develop their vocabulary.

Personal website | alex dot de-carvalho at

Monica Do

Monica is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Chicago. Her research uses experiments in language production to better understand the relationship between thought and language. She investigates (1) how people decide what to say (and not say) about the world they see around them and (ii) how they then map their conceptual representations of the world into the linguistic form required by their language.

Alon Hafri

Alon Hafri is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Cognitive Science at University of Delaware. He explores connections between language and vision in the mind, using behavioral and neuroimaging techniques to do so. He received his Ph.D. in Psychology in 2019 from the University of Pennsylvania. Prior to UD, he was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences and the Department of Cognitive Science, both at Johns Hopkins University. Outside of research, Alon makes homemade beer, soup and soap (and only rarely confuses the three).​​

Personal website

Anna Papafragou

Anna is a Professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania. She received her Ph.D. in Linguistics from University College London in 1998. Her main interests lie in language acquisition (especially semantics and pragmatics) and the interface between linguistic and non-linguistic representations in adults and children.

anna4 at sas dot upenn dot edu

Charles Yang

Charles is an associate professor in the departments of Linguistics, Computer Science, and Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. He received his Ph.D. in Computer Science from MIT in 2000. His research interests include language acquisition, processing, and change; morphology and the mental lexicon, computational linguistics, and the evolution of language and cognition.

Personal website | charles dot yang at ling dot upenn dot edu

Joe Toscano

Joe is an associate professor in the department of psychological & brain sciences at Villanova University. His research investigates questions about perception and language processing.

Personal website | joseph dot toscano at villanova dot edu

Barbara Landau

Barbara is the Dick and Lydia Todd Professor in the department of cognitive science at Johns Hopkins University. She is interested in human knowledge of language and space, and the relationships between these two foundational systems of knowledge.

Personal website | landau at jhu dot edu

Anne Christophe

Anne is a CNRS senior researcher at Laboratoire de Sciences Cognitives et Psycholinguistique. Her work focuses on phrasal prosody and funciton words, showing that infants acquire these aspects of their mother tongue early.

Personal website | anne dot christophe at ens dot fr

Roman Feiman

Roman is an assistant professor in the department of Cognitive, Linguistics & Psychological Sciences at Brown University. The main questions he tries to answer at “how is it so easy for us to understand new sentences and think new thoughts, judge whether they’re true, and reason through to related thoughts and sentences?”

Personal website | roman_feiman at brown dot edu

Susan Goldin-Meadow

Susan is the Beardley Ruml Distinguished Service Professor in the department of psychology at the University of Chicago. Her research interests are language development and creation and gesture’s role in communicating, thinking, and learning.

Personal website | sgsg at uchicago dot edu