People at the Concepts & Cognition Lab

Dr. Tania Lombrozo, Director


Tania LombrozoTania Lombrozo is a Professor of Psychology at Princeton University, as well as an Associate of the Department of Philosophy and the University Center for Human Values. She previously served as a Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Berkeley. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from Harvard University in 2006 after receiving a B.S. in Symbolic Systems and a B.A. in Philosophy from Stanford University. Dr. Lombrozo’s research aims to address foundational questions about cognition using the empirical tools of cognitive psychology and the conceptual tools of analytic philosophy. Her work focuses on explanation and understanding, conceptual representation, categorization, social cognition, causal reasoning, and folk epistemology. She is the recipient of numerous early-career awards including the Stanton Prize from the Society for Philosophy and Psychology, the Spence Award from the Association for Psychological Science, a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation, and a James S. McDonnell Foundation Scholar Award in Understanding Human Cognition. She blogs about psychology, philosophy, and cognitive science at Psychology Today and for NPR’s 13.7: Cosmos & CultureTania Lombrozo CV



Postdoctoral Scholars 


Image failed to loadSara Aronowitz
Sara works on learning and memory. Her research focuses on ways in which learning requires not just acquiring facts, but grasping new structures in the world - and how these learning processes unfold over time. This involves investigating the way successful learners actually function, building models of optimal learning, and figuring out the relationship between the two. She has a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Michigan.




Corey CusimanoCorey Cusimano
(website) Corey investigates lay theory of mind and moral responsibility. He asks questions such as: what norms govern our beliefs, desires, and emotions?  When, and why, do people expect mental states to change? And, why do people blame and punish others for their mental states? He has a PhD in Psychology from the University of Pennsylvania. Email:




Telli DavoodiTelli Davoodi
Telli uses cross-cultural and developmental research approaches to study social cognition. Within this framework, she systematically studies religious cognition and tries to understand the interplay between cognition and culture in the development of specific beliefs about supernatural entities (e.g., God) as well as beliefs about abstract scientific entities (e.g., germs). She is also interested in how early cognitive biases interact with the social environment in shaping beliefs about abstract social constructs like gender, nationality, religion, or the idea of ownership. 




Image failed to loadDylan Murray
Dylan is a philosopher interested in moral psychology. His research in the lab focuses on people’s judgments about causation, acting for reasons, moral responsibility, and free will; especially on what people take to threaten these – manipulation, determinism, causal overdetermination? His dissertation explored how the degree of moral responsibility and agency for an action depends on which mental states produce it, particularly in light of the social psychological literature on automaticity and dual-processing models of cognition and decision-making.




Image failed to loadNadya Vasilyeva
(website) Nadya is interested in what it means to explain and to understand, what gets us there, and why we want to get there in the first place. She studies how different types of explanation contribute to different kinds of understanding, and how this relationship varies with context, domain-specific experience and development.





Graduate Students 


Picture of RachitRachit Dubey
Rachit is a graduate student in computer science and is curious about curiosity. Specifically, his research is aimed at understanding the function, origins, and development of curiosity and how it relates to other aspects of cognition such as reward learning, insight, and metareasoning. By studying these questions through a computational lens, he intends to develop a better theoretical foundation which can hopefully lead to applications in various pedagogical settings. Rachit also works in Tom Griffiths's Computational Cognitive Science Lab at Princeton.



Image failed to loadEmily Liquin
(website) Emily is a graduate student in psychology interested in how children and adults actively learn about the world around them. Specifically, she researches when and how we search for explanations, how we evaluate the explanations we receive, and how these explanations contribute to our knowledge and understanding. Emily also works in Alison Gopnik’s Cognitive Development Lab, where she studies exploratory decision-making across development.





Kerem OktarKerem Oktar
(website) Kerem is passionate about understanding belief formation and updating. His research aims to unravel the conditions under which these crucial phenomena—forming an opinion and changing one’s mind—occur, both explicitly and implicitly. Currently, he is interested in exploring situations in which epistemic and non-epistemic functions of beliefs are in conflict. He can be reached at




Lab Managers 


caseyCasey Lewry  
(website) Casey is a lab manager for the Concepts and Cognition lab and the Computational Cognitive Science Lab. Her research primarily uses psychology and philosophy methods to study topics such as moral reasoning, decision-making, and learning. Casey's undergaduate psychology thesis explored teleological (purpose-based) explanations for human existence and their implications for moral judgment. In her philosophy thesis, she argued that intuition must be included in both practical and ideal moral theories.




Image failed to loadEllie Kon
Ellie is a laboratory manager for the Concepts and Cognition lab and the Computational Cognitive Science Lab. Her primary interest is in the relationship between language and thought, and she wrote her undergraduate thesis in the Language and Cognition Lab. Ellie has also studied word production in individuals with acquired language disorders with Susanne Gahl. As the Concepts and Cognition lab manager, she has become interested in understanding when and why explanation assists learning.



Undergraduate Research Assistants 


Corey LauCorey Lau
Corey is an undergraduate at Princeton, majoring in Psychology and pursuing certificates in Cognitive Science and Neuroscience. Corey is interested in studying the concept of Dualism, and how the soul relates to it. After graduation, Corey intends to apply to graduate school or seminary school, and work towards a career in counseling.




Image failed to loadAlexia Martinez
Alexia Martinez is an undergraduate at Princeton University working towards a major in Philosophy and a minor in the Cognitive Sciences. Alexia is interested in philosophy of mind, epistemology, and cognition, and intends to explore belief through both philosophical and psychological lens. Alexia plans to apply to grad school for psychology.




Lab Visitors 


Picture of EugeniaEugenia (Gena) Gorlin
(webite) Eugenia is an assistant professor of clinical psychology at the Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology, Yeshiva University. She pursues interdisciplinary research on the moral, epistemic, and psychological foundations of adaptive self-change. She is particularly interested in what motivates people to think actively and honestly about their reasons for acting, even when doing so is painful or difficult. She  completed her Ph.D. at the University of Virginia and her clinical psychology internship training at Alpert Medical School of Brown University. She is a licensed clinical psychologist specializing in the cognitive-behavioral treatment of anxiety, depression, and related concerns. 



Former Lab Members


Daniel Wilkenfeld


Azzurra Ruggeri


Thomas Blanchard

Thomas Blanchard


Graduate Students

Joe Austerweil

Joe Austerweil

Brian Edwards


James Genone


Nicholas Gwynne


M Pacer


Elizabeth Seiver


George Tsai


Kevin Uttich


Caren Walker


Joseph Williams


Carly Giffin

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Sara Gottlieb

Sara Gottleib


Sophie Bridgers

Sophie Bridgers

Chris Holdgraf

Chris Holdgraf

Dillon Plunkett

Dillon Plunkett

David Schwantes 

David Schwantes