Our Team

If you’re interested in joining our team, please apply here!

 Principal Investigator:

Federico Rossano


Department of Cognitive Science
University of California, San Diego

Assistant Professor
Dr. Rossano came to the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in January 2016 after obtaining his college degree in Italy from the University of Bologna, Italy (the oldest university in continuous operation in the world). He received a PhD from Radboud University in the Netherlands and from the Max Planck in Germany for Psycholinguistics. He also conducted postdoctoral research in Leipzig, Germany in the department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. His research focuses on social cognition in humans and in non-human primates, in particular the development of social norms, property concerns, value perception, fairness, distributive and procedural justice in children, and the development of non-verbal communication in human children and baby primates. He has also conducted extensive cross-cultural research. 
Research Interests:
  • Social cognition
  • Ontogeny and phylogeny of property (possession, ownership)
  • Value perception, fairness, distributive and procedural justice
  • Joint attention, gaze following, and voice following
  • Ontogeny, structure, and timing of gestural communication
  • Sequential organization of talk and visible behavior in human communication
  • Interactional organization of cognitive and systemic psychotherapy sessions

Curriculum Vitae

My Google Scholar page


Lab Managers

Robbie Ball , Meena Patne, Jesus Valdez, and Samar Alhaqab


Post-Doctoral Scholars

Jingzhi Tan

Dr. Jingzhi Tan is a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Cognitive Science at the University of California, San Diego. He obtained his B.S. in life science from Peking University in 2008 and his Ph.D. in evolutionary anthropology from Duke University in 2013. His research focuses on human cognitive evolution, and specifically, the evolution of cooperation beyond group boundaries. He takes a comparative approach by studying humans, bonobos, chimpanzees, monkeys, lemurs and dogs. For the past decade, he has been conducting non-invasive research in schools, zoos and animal sanctuaries.



Alejandro Sanchez-Amaro

Sanchez-Amaro’s interest is in the social cognitive abilities of great apes and human infants, which he explores through a comparative perspective. Specifically, he is interested in how primates solve cooperative social dilemmas that involve a conflict of interest. To that end, he conducts non-invasive experiments using a variety of Game Theoretical models such as the Snowdrift and the Prisoner’s Dilemma game. In these games, subjects must coordinate their actions in situations where their interests are not aligned. This research has constituted the principal part of his dissertation at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig.

He also conducts non-social cognitive studies aimed at investigating the psychological mechanisms underlying irrational cognitive biases in great apes, such as the “less is more” effect, “sunk-cost” effects and “decoy effect” tasks” in collaboration with colleagues at the CEU in Budapest and the University of St. Andrews in UK.

He just recently joined the Comparative Cognition Lab in the Cognitive Science Department of the University of California, San Diego to conduct his Postdoc research under the supervision of  Dr. Federico Rossano.



 Graduate Students

Rachel Bristol

Rachel Bristol has a BA in English from the University of Oregon, an MA in linguistics from the University of Delaware, and is currently a doctoral candidate in UC San Diego’s department of cognitive science. She is broadly interested in the pragmatic aspects of knowledge negotiation in conversational interaction. Her current work focuses on the social consequences of violating norms of knowledge ownership and transfer and explores the sociolinguistic practices that surround disputes of epistemic authority.





Stephan Kaufhold

 Research Assistants

* = available for Summer 2019

Robert Ball

Sharjil (Shaun) Bashir*

Trevon Baudoin

Fiona Cisternas

Amelia Harrison*

Lindsay Hetzel

Christina Ruiz-Mendoza*

Hae-chan Kim

Jason Lin

Yao Liu

Leticia Martinez*

Jenny Min Din

Meenakshi Patne*

Niki Tam

Julianna Shuetz*

Jesus Valdez*

Jiayi Wang*


— leaving after Spring 2019 —

Jessica Chan

Hazel Leung

Sasha Lizardi-Luque



Jane Abrams

Niel Bezrookove

Victoria Cheng

Fernando Cortez

Aishee Das

Farrah Ferrer – Lab Manager and Research Assistant

Catherine Hallsten

Maiyi Huang – Lab Manager and Research Assistant

Raveen Johal

Myung (Jenny) Kim

Courtney Ko

Zahal Kohistani

Paulina Lee

Jessica Li

Meagan Montalto

Cameron Octon

Ergin Ozyazgan

Emma Parker

Barbara Perez – Lab Manager

Kassandra Perez

Karina Sevilla

Tong Shen

Krislyn LaCroix

Marc Raphael

Shayla Razavi

Nicki Rohani

Kyle Sung

Emily Tam – Lab Manager and Research Assistant

Risheng Tan

Bianca Wilson

Yuwei Zhang