People

Faculty

YUKO MUNAKATA

  • Psychology, Center for Mind and Brain
Yuko Munakata is an elected fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and the American Psychological Association. Her work on child development has been funded by the National Institutes of Health since 1998, and has been published in top scientific journals and featured in The Atlantic, The Today Show, and Parents Magazine. Dr. Munakata co-edited two books on brain and cognitive development, and co-authored two editions of a textbook on computational cognitive neuroscience. She served as Associate Editor of Psychological Review, and has received awards for her research, teaching, and mentoring. She received her B.A. in Psychology and BS in Symbolic Systems from Stanford University. After earning her Ph.D. in Psychology from Carnegie Mellon University and the Center for the Neural Basis of Cognition (CNBC), she conducted postdoctoral research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Brain and Cognitive Sciences. She was an Assistant and Associate Professor at the University of Denver and Associate Professor and Professor at the University of Colorado Boulder before moving to UC Davis.

​Postdoctoral Researcher

JESSE NIEBAUM

  • Center for Mind and Brain
Jesse is interested in the development of cognitive control, especially when and how children and adults decide to exert cognitive control or avoid doing so. He is currently working on projects exploring whether children and adults pay attention to how difficult cognitive tasks are, how hard they are thinking, and whether being aware of difficulty and effort influences decisions about which cognitive tasks to take on. His other projects explore whether children and adults adapt problem-solving strategies to how much mental effort potential strategies require. He’s also a proponent of open science research practices, acting as an ambassador for the Center for Open Science (osf.io/q5bnp). Jesse has a B.A. in Literature from the University of Kansas and an M.A. in Cognitive Psychology from the University of Colorado. He previously worked at the Building Blocks of Cognition Lab at the University of California-Berkeley and spent time as a visiting researcher in the Connected Minds Lab at the University of Amsterdam.

ALLISON ZENGILOWSKI

In her research, Allison is interested in how people learn, integrating cognitive, motivational, and socio-emotional perspectives for investigations of learning processes in in-person and online environments. Paying particular focus to students’ identities and lived experiences, she often employs qualitative methods in her work. She also has a passion for teaching, conducting research in her courses to help improve her pedagogy. Currently, she is working on projects with Spark Math, a multi-institutional project to develop a comprehensive system of supports for sixth grade math instruction for students from historically disenfranchised groups. Allison earned her B.A. in psychology and peace & conflict studies from Colgate University. At the University of Texas at Austin, she earned her M.Ed. specializing in quantitative methods and her Ph.D. in educational psychology, concentrating in human development, culture, and learning sciences.

Graduate Student

WINNIE ZHUANG

  • 5th year, ​Psychology​
Winnie joined the Cognition in Context Lab as a graduate student in Fall 2017. She received her B.S. in Biopsychology from Tufts University, her M.A. in Experimental Psychology from the College of William and Mary, and was most recently the Lab Manager at the NYU Infant Cognition and Communication Lab. Her past research interests included eating behaviors in adults and cognitive development in infancy. Going forward, she seeks to integrate those areas and explore the mechanisms underlying self-regulation and its development. When not in lab, Winnie can be found jogging, biking, drawing, or exploring new cuisines.

RACHEL FOSTER

Rachel joined the lab as a graduate student in 2022. Her research will investigate how children's developing cognitive and attentional control support learning in diverse contexts. Prior to joining the lab, Rachel completed her B.S. in Cognitive Neuroscience at Brown University and a fellowship in Developmental Psychopathology and Social Neuroscience at Yale School of Medicine, where she studied executive function development in neurodiverse preschoolers. Outside of the lab, Rachel loves to be outdoors: hiking, biking or trying new water sports, and is excited to explore California!

DIEGO PLACIDO

  • 3rd year, Psychology
Diego studies the heterogeneity in neurocognitive functioning (i.e., components of executive functions) and associated phenotypic behaviors by incorporating a focus on the dynamic interplay with experiences, environmental influences, and genetic biases. He is using functional and structural MRI techniques to observe adaptations in brain development across the lifespan and plans to apply computational modeling approaches to further delve into the development of certain cognitive processes related to emotional and behavioral regulation. Prior to joining the lab, Diego graduated from Brandeis University in 2015. He then continued research at Brown University to study the development of executive functions and visual attention in children and adolescents. Currently, Diego is being co-advised by Drs. Yuko Munakata and Susan Rivera.Diego studies the heterogeneity in neurocognitive functioning (i.e., components of executive functions) and associated phenotypic behaviors by incorporating a focus on the dynamic interplay with experiences, environmental influences, and genetic biases. He is using functional and structural MRI techniques to observe adaptations in brain development across the lifespan and plans to apply computational modeling approaches to further delve into the development of certain cognitive processes related to emotional and behavioral regulation.  Prior to joining the lab, Diego graduated from Brandeis University in 2015. He then continued research at Brown University to study the development of executive functions and visual attention in children and adolescents. Currently, Diego is being co-advised by Drs. Yuko Munakata and Susan Rivera.

JADE YONEHIRO

  • 4th year, ​Psychology
Jade’s work focuses on understanding how executive functions are influenced by various social and environmental factors. Her current work includes investigations into the role of parent’s scaffolding behaviors in the development of children’s executive functions, methods for supporting children’s inhibitory control across development, and the development and evaluation of social paradigms for measuring cognitive abilities.  Jade received her B.A. in Psychology and her M.S. in Experimental Psychology from Arizona State University. You can learn more about her and her research on her website: http://jadeyonehiro.com/

Lab Manager

ADITI HOSANGADI

  • Lab Manager
Aditi received her B.S. in Psychology from UC Davis in 2021. While at Davis, she was a research assistant at Dr. Lindsay Bowman's Brain and Social Cognition lab where she studied how emotion perception relates to theory of mind in preschool children. After graduating, she worked at Dr. Elizabeth Redcay's Developmental Social Cognitive Neuroscience lab, where she managed a study on neural similarity and social interaction. In the future, she hopes to attend graduate school to study developmental cognitive neuroscience. Outside the lab, she loves to read, cook, travel to new places, and eat Thai food.

Research Assistant

JENNY GENG

  • Research Assistant
Jenny joined the lab in the Spring of 2022 after she graduated from UC Davis with a B.A. in Psychology in 2021. She is interested in studying how sociocultural factors influence bilingual language acquisition and production, especially for underrepresented bilingual groups. She raises questions like: how does culture shape the language-learning process and cognition in different-script bilinguals? In her free time, she likes to hip-hop dance, swim, and brew coffee.

NIKI H. KHALIGH

  • Undergraduate Research Assistant (1st year), Cognitive Science ​
Niki joined the lab in Winter 2022 and is pursuing a degree in Cognitive Science with a Computational emphasis. She is also apart of the ASPIRE program. Niki is interested in the effects of socioeconomic disparities on children’s cognitive development and finding strategies to reduce such effects. In the future, she hopes to attend medical school to pursue a career as a physician. She hopes to provide care for the underserved and uninsured communities to increase health care accessibility. In her free time, she enjoys reading Persian poems, training her dog, and swimming.