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Principal Investigator

  Ann Senghas, Ph.D email website vita

Prof. Senghas is an associate professor in the Department of Psychology at Barnard College. She is the director of the Language Acquisition and Development Research Laboratory, where she and her lab members conduct studies in language development, emergence, and change. She also teaches classes in psychology, human development, and language acquisition.

Lab Coordinator
  Annemarie Kocab email

Annemarie Kocab graduated from Wellesley College in 2010 with a B.A. in Cognitive & Linguistic Sciences and English. She joined the LADR lab after graduation as lab manager. Annemarie first went to Nicaragua in 2008 with Dr. Jennie Pyers and has gone every year to date. During her time at Wellesley, Annemarie focused on two projects investigating language change within Nicaraguan Sign Language. One looked at the development of referential shift and the other at the emergence and grammaticization of nonmanual markers when asking wh-questions. As a Deaf bilingual user of American Sign Language and English, her research interests are many and varied, and include: The nature of bilingualism, critical period effects on first language acquisition, the relationship between language and cognition, how non-verbal communication scaffolds language development, the role of gesture in cognitive development and learning, how the spatial nature of gesture can contribute to learning, social learning preferences in deaf children.

Current Projects: Referential Shift, WH-Questions

Postdoctoral Fellow
  Amber Martin email

Amber Martin is a post-doctoral fellow in psychology at Barnard College. A Deaf Minnesota native, she received her B.S. in Child Psychology from the University of Minnesota in 2000, and her Ph.D. from the University of Minnesota's Institute of Child Development in 2009. Amber's research interests center on how age of language acquisition affects the relations between language and cognition. She is currently conducting several projects, including investigating how sign language acquisition affects various spacial skills, how young homesigners construct signs and the development of spatial conceptual categories in young signers. In her free time Amber enjoys camping and traveling with her husband Paul and enjoying the life in New York City.

Current Projects: Spatial Language and Spatial Cognition in ASL and Nicaraguan Signers

Graduate Research Assistant
  Sheeva Abolhassani email

Sheeva Abolhassani received her B.S. in 2008 from Emerson College in Communication Sciences and Disorders; she then went on to receive her M.S. in 2010 from Columbia University in Speech Language Pathology. She is currently working as a speech language pathologist with children ages 0-3 while also working in the LADR lab as a research assistant. Currently in the LADR lab Sheeva is conducting a case study utilizing participants carrying out Carol Padden Object and Handling tasks. Her hobbies include learning languages, traveling, baking, trying new cuisines, soccer, and relaxing.

Undergraduate Research Assistants
  Krizia Lopez email

Krizia Lopez is currently a junior at Columbia College, double majoring in Psychology and Anthropology/Archaeology. She is also studying towards a concentration in Business Management. Ever since she was born she has traveled the world, living in countries such as Peru, South Africa, Germany, and China. She speaks Spanish and German fluently and is currently studying advanced Mandarin Chinese. Her international life has inspired her to actively promote cultural exchange, language study, and open-mindedness. In her spare time, she enjoys playing chess, listening to music, and creating oil paintings. She is also developing her own website where you can view her artwork.

  Jillian Ashenbrener email

Jillian Ashenbrener is a junior in Columbia College, where she is majoring in Psychology and pursuing concentrations in East Asian Languages and Cultures and Business Management. A speaker of French and Mandarin, she is interested in issues concerning adult L2 acquisition and cognition, as well as bilingualism and identity. Since starting at LADR lab, she has also become curious about conceptions of space and spatial rotation ability in signers versus speakers of English and Chinese. In her spare time she enjoys running, tutoring, and DJing for the In All Languages department of Columbia’s student-run radio station, where she broadcasts everything from reggae to Middle Eastern tunes.

  Jessica Nadel email

Jessica Nadel is a junior at Barnard College, majoring in Psychology. She is interested in the relationship between language and cognition. In the LADR lab, she is particularly interested in the acquisition of sign language and the corresponding changes in cognition. After she graduates, she plans to go to medical school.

  Geoff Zoehfeld email

Geoff is a senior in the Columbia School of Engineering, majoring in Applied Math and minoring in East Asian Languages and Cultures. His passions include playing badminton, the Yankees, Fire Emblem, learning Korean and Chinese, and sleeping in on the weekends. He and his roommate are probably the only guys you will see walking around on campus wearing a t-shirt on a frigid December morning in New York. To this day he can still recall the first sentence he ever learned in Chinese class: The weather is very nice today, neither cold nor hot.

Past Lab Members
  Blair Sinsimer email

Blair Sinsimer graduated from Barnard College in 2011 and majored in Art History.

  Sara Maria Hasbun email

Sara Maria Hasbun (lab manager 2008-2010) graduated from Barnard College with a degree in Linguistics and Psychology, and is now a graduate student in Cognition and Perception at NYU. She is interested in what language modality (signed versus spoken languages) and linguistic differences (tonal and non-tonal languages) can reveal about the structure and origins of language, as well as the relationship between music and (all modalities of) language in the brain. In the LADR lab Sara Maria focused on the development of classifiers in Nicaraguan Sign Language and the trajectory of early language change. The LADR lab instilled in her a deep love of international field research and is responsible for her now incurable wanderlust.

  Molly Flaherty email

Molly Flaherty graduated from Columbia University with a BA in Psychology in 2004. After graduating she worked in Ann Senghas's lab studying Nicaraguan Sign Language for two years before completing a Master's Program in the Evolution of Language and Cognition at the University of Edinburgh in Scotland. She is now a PhD student at the University of Chicago where she continues to research the development of Nicaraguan Sign Language.

  Shira Katseff email

Shira Katseff graduated from Columbia University with a degree in biomedical engineering and a minor in psychology. She made her debut in the LADR lab in summer 2001, and served as lab manager from fall 2002 to spring 2004. She is currently a graduate student at the University of California, Berkeley where she studies linguistics.

  Sarah Littman email

Sarah Littman is a Ph.D. student in Bilingual School Psychology at Fordham University. She graduated from Barnard College in 2003 with a major in Psychology and Spanish, and wrote a thesis on the transition from gesture to sign language in Nicaraguan Sign Language and Spanish Sign Language (LSE). She spent the spring semester of her junior year in Seville, Spain, where she collected data on LSE (between classes). A Howard Hughes Foundation Science Pipeline Project Fellowship supported her field trip to Nicaragua in the summer of 2001 and her work in the LADR lab for the following academic year.

  Jennie Pyers, Ph.D. email

Prof. Pyers is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Wellesley College. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley, where she worked with both Dan Slobin and Alison Gopnik.

  Alina Engelman email

Alina Engelman graduated from Brown University, where she majored in Community Health. She wrote her thesis on the recent history of Nicaragua (particularly the Sandinista Revolution) and how it shaped the daily experience of Deaf Nicaraguans, including a new language and a new, thriving Deaf community. Alina is Deaf and bilingual in American Sign Language and English. She joined the LADR lab in the summer of 2003, just in time to be roped into a summer fieldtrip.

  Marisol Santos email

Marisol Santos graduated from New York University, majoring in Education, specializing in Child Development. She is a native speaker of English and Spanish and served as the LADR lab's linguistic and cultural liason, assisting in correspondence and communication with the Nicaraguan participants.