The Development of Social Cognition Laboratory    

at The University of Chicago

Our Team

Phone: (773) 702-0710
Office: Green Hall 201


Katherine D. Kinzler, Ph.D.


Professor Kinzler’s research sits at the intersection of developmental and social psychology.  Her work focuses on the origins of prejudice and ingroup/outgroup thinking, with an emphasis on understanding how language and accent mark social groups. She is also interested in cultural learning, food cognition and moral psychology.

Professor Kinzler joined the faculty of the University of Chicago Department of Psychology in 2008, as a Neubauer Family Assistant Professor.  She spent 2015-2019 at Cornell University, where she was most recently the Chair of the Department of Psychology. She completed her B.A. at Yale in Cognitive Science, her Ph.D. at Harvard in Psychology, and she was a Fulbright Scholar at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Health and the John Templeton Foundation. Her work has appeared regularly in the New York Times and other media outlets, and she was named a “Young Scientist,” one of 50 scientists under age 40 recognized by the World Economic Forum.

Gemma Smith


Gemma oversees the lab’s research projects, develops strategic partnerships, coordinates off-site collaborations and facilitates the work of our graduate and undergraduate researchers. Within the CECR, she unites the DSC Lab and the Developmental Investigations of Behavior and Strategy (DIBS) Lab led by Professor Alex Shaw. She has done psychology research at Trinity University and University of Washington, and worked in the mental health field for several years. Broadly, she is interested in studying children’s early perceptions of disability, the development of empathy, and the role of language development in identity formation. email:

Emory Kim


Emory manages the logistical and administrative responsibilities of our virtual lab and leads our team of undergraduate Research Assistants. Emory is a fourth-year at the University of Chicago majoring in Psychology on the pre-medicine track with a minor in Education and Society. She is intrigued by the development of social categories and how both innate and learned categorizations affect individuals’ perceptions of others. Additionally, she is interested in the impact that self-interested behavior may have on individuals’ ability to process certain types of information. In the future, she plans to pursue a career in education policy research. email:

Molly C. Gibian


Molly advises the lab’s research agenda, integrates systemic project management, writes regulatory documents and provides organizational guidance for the lab and the Center for Early Childhood Research. She has worked in neuroscience and psychology research for Wellesley College, M.I.T., Harvard Medical School, Boston University and Cornell University. Her research interests focus on societal/cultural influences on learning cognition, leadership ambition, identity formation and the development of value systems. In 2021, Molly is pursuing a graduate degree at Stanford University while continuing to support the lab. email:



Isobel Heck

Isobel is a PhD student at the University of Chicago. Broadly, Isobel’s research asks how children think about social groups and their relations to one another. Current lines of work investigate the development of reasoning about group-based social hierarchies, gendered and racial attitudes about political leadership, the intergenerational transmission of sociopolitical attitudes, and children’s social learning from others’ nonverbal behaviors. email:

Radhika Santhanagopalan

Radhika is a joint Ph.D. student in Psychology and Business. She is interested in language and accent attitudes (as they relate to essentialism and judgments about people), children’s beliefs about leadership and political participation (including along the lines of gender, immigration status, and role-models). Other lines of work include children’s information avoidance, negotiation skills, and perspective-taking. email:

Rachel King

Rachel is a Ph.D. student in the University of Chicago’s developmental psychology program. Prior to coming to UChicago, she was a graduate student in the social psychology program at Cornell University. Rachel is broadly interested in social group concepts – especially stereotypes – and how they develop over time and across experiences. Her current research examines the intersection between socioeconomic, political, and geographic stereotyping in adults and children. Rachel also studies the development of social mobility beliefs and parents’ strategies for talking to their children about wealth inequality. website:, email:

Kaila Scott-Charles

Kaila is a first-year Ph.D. student at the University of Chicago and is interested in the emergence of social group preferences and intergroup attitudes in children. She is particularly interested in the development of children’s conceptualization of race, ethnicity, and wealth and how they use these understandings to make decisions and form judgments about others. She is currently focused on how parents talk to their children about taboo topics such as race and wealth, and how this may influence children’s attitudes, judgments, and beliefs. email:

Jessica Waltmon

Jessica is a Ph.D. student in the University of Chicago’s Developmental Psychology Programand a Institute of Education Sciences (IES) Fellow. She is co-advised by Dr. Katherine Kinzler and Dr. Susan Levine. Jessicagraduated in 2021 with a B.A. in Psychology from the University of California, Davis with Highest Honors. Broadly, Jessica’s interests include 1) understanding what shapes our conception of our cognitive abilities and how this influences our behaviors; 2) investigating how this knowledge can bolster interventions in education, industry, policy, and medical fields. Email:


at the University of Chicago

We often have opportunities for new undergraduate research assistants. Please email Gemma Smith ( for an application and more information.