I am an Assistant Professor in the Cognitive, Linguistic and Psychological Sciences department at Brown University. I also have a status-only appointment as an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Toronto. My research explores the development and origins of social cognition - how children, adults and animals understand and learn from others' behaviour. I am currently especially interested in the relationship between social learning and causal reasoning, and how social information can be combined with direct observation when making judgments about the causal nature of the world. I use computational models to better understand human social reasoning, and in order to ultimately develop intelligent computer programs with some of these same social learning abilities.
Prior to coming to Toronto, I was a Senior Research Fellow in the University of St. Andrews Psychology department, where my research was funded by an ESRC Future Research Leaders grant. I completed my PhD in 2013 in the UC Berkeley Psychology department, where I worked in Alison Gopnik's Cognitive Development lab and Tom Griffiths' Computational Cognitive Science lab. Along with my PhD, I completed a master's degree in the UC Berkeley Statistics department, focusing on applications of probability theory and statistical computing
Prior to starting my PhD at UC Berkeley, I was a Complexity Scientist at Icosystem Corporation, where I helped develop software for creating postal routes, modeling the spread of cell phone viruses, visualizing online information, and suggesting good baby names, among other things. Before that, I completed a master's degree at the MIT Media Lab, working on social learning in interactive animated characters.
In my non-academic life, my dog and I trained as a wilderness search and rescue team with the California Rescue Dog Association and the Alameda County Sheriff's Department Search and Rescue Unit. More recently, I have been a Bright Club participant, performing academic stand up comedy in St. Andrews, Edinburgh and Dundee.