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I am a research scientist at Harvard University working with Dr. Elizabeth Spelke. I am also a research associate at UC Berkeley where I collaborate with Dr. Fei Xu and Dr. Mahesh Srinivasan.


I received my PhD in Cognitive Science from Brown University under the supervision of Drs. James Morgan and Dave Sobel in 2019. In 2023, I completed an F32 NIH NRSA postdoctoral fellowship at Northwestern University, where I worked with Dr. Sandra Waxman.


I investigate how we develop the ability to learn and reason about the unobservable  from language and how this ability interacts with other aspects of cognition. I pursue these questions in three lines of inquiry: 

(1) when children first begin to connect representations of the unobservable with language (e.g.,  Luchkina & Waxman, 2023, Developmental Science);

(2) what mechanisms drive the development of this capacity and how clinical and sociocultural factors interact with those mechanisms (e.g., Luchkina & Xu, 2022, Psychological Review);

(3) how the link between language and representations affects abstract reasoning and epistemic inferences (e.g., Luchkina et al., 2018, Developmental Science; Luchkina et al., 2020, Child Development; Luchkina & Waxman, 2023, Perspectives on Psychological Science)

I use a combination of behavioral and eye-tracking measures and employ live acting, video-recordings, video-chat, corpus analysis, and online apps in my investigations.

Aside from conducting my research, I lead the Social Contingency Consortium – an interdisciplinary collaboration of scholars from 30+ institutions worldwide. The main goal of the consortium is to understand behavioral and neural mechanisms underlying the facilitative role of social contingency in human and animal learning.

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