EOCC Lab 2017

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In the Evolution and Ontogeny of Cognition and Culture Laboratory, we study the ontogeny of cultural learning. Our team of cognitive developmental scientists studies the interplay of our universal mind and the variation of human culture.

The lab is directed by Dr. Legare, and is located in the psychology department at The University of Texas at Austin. The other members of the Evolution and Ontogeny of Cognition and Culture Laboratory are:

Postdoctoral Researchers

Sarah Davis, Ph.D., received her doctorate in 2017 from the University of St. Andrews. She is currently a visiting researcher in the EOCC Lab at UT Austin. She graduated from the University of St. Andrews in 2012 with a B.Sc. in psychology. She received her M.Sc. in 2013 from Queen's University Belfast in atypical child development. Sarah's research interests include the evolution of culture with a comparative focus on behavioral flexibility in chimpanzees and children.


Emily Little, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral researcher in the EOCC Lab. She is the Project Manager for Project RISE: harnessing Ritual to Improve Service-delivery and Empower health workers. The objective of this project is to improve maternal and child health in India and is funded by the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation (PI Legare). Dr. Little completed her Ph.D. at University of California, San Diego in experimental developmental psychology with a specialization in anthropogeny. She studies cultural variation in childrearing practices (in Vanuatu, Bolivia, Guatemala, and the U.S.), focusing on the role of infant-caregiver physical contact in early social-cognitive development and breastfeeding behavior. She is founder and director of nurturely, an organization that supports the health and development of infants and caregivers globally.


Emily Messer, Ph.D., will be joining the EOCC Lab as a postdoctoral researcher in February 2018. She is working on an NSF-funded project examining cultural variation in social learning and cultural transmission (PI Legare). Emily graduated from The University of Dundee in the U.K. with a BSc Hons in biology and then went on to do a Ph.D. at the University of St Andrews in the U.K. in psychology and neuroscience; her thesis investigated social learning and social behaviour in capuchin and squirrel monkeys. Since finishing her Ph.D. in 2014, she has done postdocs at The University of St Andrews and Heriot-Watt University in the U.K., working with capuchin monkeys, chimpanzees, and children. Emily is a primatologist and a keen science communicator with research interests in social behaviour, learning, culture, and prosociality.


Sarah Pope, Ph.D., will be joining the EOCC Lab as a postdoctoral researcher in February 2018. She is working on an NSF-funded project examining cultural variation in social learning and cultural transmission (PI Legare). Sarah received her M.S. and Ph.D. in neuroscience from Georgia State University as well as her Ph.D. in psychology from Aix-Marseille University. For her dissertation research, Sarah explored differences in cognitive flexibility within the primate lineage (baboons, chimpanzees) and across human cultures (America, France, Namibia). Specifically, her research focused on how familiar solution strategies can block more efficient ones. Sarah is also interested in how formal education impacts problem-solving flexibility and other aspects of human cognition.


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Bruce Rawlings, Ph.D., will be joining the EOCC Lab as a postdoctoral researcher in April 2018. He is working on an NSF-funded project examining cultural variation in social learning and cultural transmission (PI Legare). Bruce graduated from the University of Plymouth with a B.Sc in psychology before receiving an M.Sc in cognitive neuroscience from the University of York. Bruce’s Ph.D. from Durham University examined individual differences in social learning and innovation in children and chimpanzees. Prior to Bruce’s Ph.D., he conducted research on the social transmission of behaviors in nonhuman primate communities in Brazil and Zambia

 

Graduate Students

Justin Busch, M.A., is a fifth year Ph.D. student at UT Austin. He received his B.A. in 2009 from the University of Colorado, Boulder in ecology and evolutionary biology and his M.A. in psychology in 2015 from UT Austin. Prior to coming to UT, he worked as a research assistant at the University of Colorado and Columbia University. Justin’s research interests include intuitive causal reasoning and studying religious cognition from an evolutionary perspective. He is also interested in science education.


Nicole Wen, M.A., is a fifth year Ph.D. student at UT Austin. She graduated from UT Austin in 2013 with a B.S. in psychology, a B.A. in Plan II Honors, and a minor in history. She received her M.A. in psychology in 2015 from UT Austin. Nicole's research interests include the development of social cognition and examining the imitative foundations of cultural learning. She is interested in examining the effects of social conventions on children’s social group cognition in order to understand how rituals facilitate group cohesion and identity formation. 

 

Lab Manager


Aurora Brinkman graduated from UT Austin in 2017 with a B.A. in psychology and a B.S.A. in honors biology. After taking two gap years, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.

Research Assistants

  • Bunmi Akindona
  • Janet Akisanmi
  • Justin Allen
  • Felicia Calo
  • Hannah Campos
  • Michaela Caughy
  • Sabrina Chavez
  • Lydia Chen
  • Jensen Edwards
  • Stephanie Estrera
  • Claudia Hernandez
  • Keyun Li
  • Anh Nguyen
  • Yasmeen Nofal
  • Keonnie Parilla
  • Danielle Salinas
  • Nawal Umar
  • Nat Watkins

Former Ph.D. Students & Postdoctoral Researchers

  • Jennifer Clegg, Ph.D., is currently a senior lecturer at Texas State University. She received her Ph.D. from UT Austin in 2016.
    Personal website →
  • Daniel Conroy-Beam, Ph.D., is an Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at UC Santa Barbara. He received his Ph.D. from UT Austin in 2016.
    Personal website →
  • Patricia Herrmann, Ph.D., is a Systems Analyst at Broadband Interactive. She has a doctorate in cognitive science from Northwestern University and was a postdoctoral researcher at UT Austin from 2011–2013.
  • Frances R. Morales, M.A., is currently employed as a mental health care practitioner. She received her M.A. at UT Austin in 2015.
  • Andre L. Souza, Ph.D., Andre L. Souza, Ph.D., is a quantitative researcher at Google. He received his Ph.D. from UT Austin in 2012.
  • Rachel Watson-Jones, Ph.D., is a usability senior engineer at Dell. She has a doctorate in cognitive and evolutionary anthropology from the University of Oxford and was a visiting graduate student and postdoctoral researcher at UT Austin from 2011–2015.
    Personal website →
  • Aiyana Willard, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Oxford. She has a doctorate in social psychology from the University of British Columbia and was a postdoctoral researcher at UT Austin from 2015–2017.
    Personal website →

Former Undergraduate Research Assistants

  • 2017-2018: Sally Do, Shirin Khakoo, Sarah Kim, Hannah Nazir, Ashley Obregon, Ashley Pham, Evan Wotipka
  • 2016-2017: Alyssa Bohnert, Aurora Brinkman, Zac Buckingham, Aditi Chalise, Shihyin Chung, Nick Gatz, Taylor George, Nicole Griffin, Atira Hinton, Daniel Ikejimba, Vibha Iyengar, Bonnie Johnson, Andi Liang, Jacob Maras, Gaby Morgan, Yasmeen Nofal, Reethika Thakkalapally, Jennifer Velazquez, Aaron Wood
  • 2015-2016: Alexander Abbot, Andrew Arriaga, Mahera Badat, Carmen Cardenas, Nitza Chavez, Grace Cicardo, Emily Cruz, Maria de Leon, Emma Denning, Daniel Dosal-Terminel, Leah Duran, Nicole Garner, Taylor George, Tiffany Huynh, Daniel Ikejimba, Eunice Iyalho, Nicole Jacobs, Ana Jacome, Alicia Kiattinat, Sarah Kim, Emily Lang, Lindsey Leggett, Shirley Li, Joel Lucio, Wanja Muturi, Anisa Nabily, Patty Phewklieng, Graciela Rodriguez, Tara Thankachan, Bryn Terry, Shu Jie Ting, Emily Withrow
  • 2014-2015: Adrian Abellanoza, Bethelhem Belachew, Anuj Bhutani, Jayson Alex Carr, Emily Eck, Quinn Hirschi, Elena Keltner, Shama Momin, Valerie Moreno, Priyanka Patel, Bella Prines, McKenzie Ratcliffe, Annabel Reeves, Michelle Ross, Hyunji Seo, Swathi Sridhar, Kasia Szostak, Sarah Talaat, Allison Tsao, Holly Weir, Debbie Yeh, Rithika Yogeshwarun, Chloe Yu
  • 2013-2014: Niki Akhaveissy, Adam Alcott, Andrea Argueta, Joseph Barron, Casey Brown, Courtney Crosby, Cisse Drame, Stephanie Gonzalez, Irene Jea, Alexa Perlick, Elyssa Proby, Emily Shanks, Allison Tsao, Monica Vela, Viviana Wan
  • 2012-2013: Justin Busch, Nathan Davis, Adrienne Fowler, Eric Harvey, Cintia Hinojosa, Sarah Mohkamkar
  • 2011-2012: Brittani Cobb, Kathryn Christine Chevis, Katherine Cullum, Niki Demkowicz, Teresa Gaytan, Lauren Gragg, Lacey Hutchison, Paige Hartman, Michelle Jorgenson, Riley Little, Becky Nekolaichuk, Tiffany Roshanian, Lukas Thompson, Maya Zein
  • 2010-2011: Erica Beall, Victoria Chapman, Claudia Garate, Erin Griffin, Anna Johnson, Abby Lavine, Christin Lusk, Daniel Martinez, Jr., Victoria Nava, Jenna Segraves, Ariana Stern-Luna, Nicole Wen
  • 2009-2010: Molly Callahan, Stephani Clayton, Milla Impola, Katie Jean, Starr La Salde, Linzi Moss, Naomi Schwendemann, Becca Yasskin
  • 2008-2009: Sara Baird, Justin Cho , Kellie Connors, Sabrina Elddine, Sonali Gadkari, Kaitlin McLaughlin, Jane Park, Cam Plummer, Leigh Plummer, Brooke Woolley

Collaborators

 

Lab Pictures