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:

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 children’s social cognition (e.g., children’s beliefs about nationality, gender, and language attitudes), as well as children’s judgment and decision-making abilities (e.g., negotiations, information avoidance, and heuristic judgments).


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.

Kaila Scott-Charles

Kaila is a Ph.D. student in Psychology at University of Chicago and is broadly interested in the emergence of social group attitudes and beliefs. She is particularly interested in the development of children’s understanding of race/ethnicity, wealth, and status and how this impacts social cognition. Kaila’s current projects mainly focus on parents’ beliefs about talking to their children about race and wealth inequality and children’s use of others’ nonverbal behavior to make social judgments (e.g., perceived social hierarchy). 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:

Marie-France Champoux-Larsson

Marie-France is a Postdoctoral Fellow in Psychology at the University of Chicago. She obtained her PhD in Psychology at Mid Sweden University in Sweden. She was awarded an International Postdoc Grant by the Swedish Research Council to support her research at the University of Chicago.

Marie-France’s research interests combine language, bilingualism, and emotion in social contexts in children and adults. She investigates meta-stereotyping in young bilingual speakers, as well as attitudes and prejudices that children and adults have towards bilingual and accented speakers. She is also interested in emotion perception in a first and a second language, as well as in the mental health and wellbeing of immigrants and linguistic minorities in relation to language use. Email:

Sanam Younis

Sanam is a visiting scholar at the Department of Psychology. She is pursuing her Ph.D. degree at Quaid-i-Azam University Islamabad, Pakistan. Sanam is interested in contributing to a deeper understanding of psychosocial factors underlying Xenophobia, keeping in view the impact of self-uncertainty. Apart from this, she is exploring the types and levels of uncertainty that the millennials are experiencing and their potential outcomes in relationship to nationalism, personality traits, extremist propensity, and media discourses. 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.