Dr. Federico Rossano

Principal Investigator


Federico Rossano is an Associate Professor in the department of Cognitive Science at the University of California, San Diego. He received his PhD in Linguistics from the Max Planck institute for Psycholinguistics and Radboud University, Nijmegen (The Netherlands) and has worked as a post-doctoral researcher in the Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology at the MPI for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig (Germany). His current research adopts a comparative perspective on social cognition (cross-ages, cross-cultures and cross-species) and focuses on the development of communicative abilities and the structure of social interaction in human and non-human animals.  He is the scientific lead of the world largest scientific study of button pressing pets.

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

Alexis burke

Lab Manager

Alexis graduated from Scripps College with a BA in Linguistics. While an undergraduate, they worked with young children as a preschool teacher’s assistant and as an RA in the UCLA Language Lab and wrote an honors thesis on the indexing of nonbinary gender through speech. Alexis is interested in children’s social and linguistic learning through self-directed exploration and pretend play, and she is passionate about the relationship between cognition research and early education pedagogy.

Amalia Bastos

Postdoctoral researcher

Amalia holds a B.A. Hons. in Biological Sciences from the University of Oxford, where she studied under a full scholarship. She recently earned a PhD in Comparative Psychology from the University of Auckland, in New Zealand. She is broadly interested in how intelligence evolves and which cognitive processes animals to understand and respond to the world around them.

Kenan Hochuli

Postdoctoral researcher

Kenan Hochuli is a Swiss National Science Foundation Fellow focusing on the intricate interplay between social interaction, architecture, and configurations of co-presence in various settings. Building upon his expertise in linguistics and interaction analysis, Kenan employs video-recorded data to explore behaviors in non-human primates and early humans in prehistoric environments. His research interests extend to the effects of mediatized environments on contemporary forms of sociality.

Alexandria Cairo Evans

Graduate Student

Alex grew up outside of Phoenix, Arizona, and later moved to Tucson where she obtained her undergraduate degree in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science from the University of Arizona. There, she worked in the Child Cognition Lab studying working memory and rule abstraction. She then joined the Arizona Canine Cognition Center, directed by Dr. Evan MacLean. Alex later completed her master’s degree at University of Chicago, studying welfare and decision-making in primates at Lincoln Park Zoo. Currently pursuing her doctoral studies at UCSD, Alex is a member of the Comparative Cognition Lab where she investigates social cognition and communication, primarily focusing on dogs.

Jack Terwilliger

Graduate Student

Jack is a PhD student in Cognitive Science researching how the normative structure of social interaction alleviates and is shaped by the cognitive demands of communication. He graduated from Dartmouth College where he studied Cognitive Science and Computer Science and previously worked at MIT on autonomous vehicles and in industry on natural language understanding.

Stephan Kaufhold

Graduate Student

A psychologist by training, Stephan has spent the last years mainly studying the behavior and cognitive abilities of different apes species (gibbons, orangutans, gorillas, humans, bonobos, chimpanzees). Stephan’s research aims at gaining insights about the ultimate and proximate origins of social cognition in humans and animals through comparative and developmental approaches. More precisely, he asks questions such as: To what extent do cultures influence the social behavior in primate societies? How much intraspecific variation can be found in different primate species? What are the ultimate and proximate factors that lead individuals to either cooperate or compete with each other in specific interactions?

Trisha Katz


Trisha graduated from Boston University in 2019 and then began a lab manager position with Dr. Caren Walker’s lab in UC-San Diego’s psych department, where she has been working a variety of studies related to causal reasoning and belief revision. She soon after joined Dr. Rossano’s lab as well, and together they designed a study regarding children’s preferences for dominant vs. subordinate individuals, and how information about merit impacts these preferences. She and Dr. Rossano are also working on a study regarding young children’s perceptions of reciprocal social interactions, specifically those that involve teasing.

Karanjot “KJ” Kaur


Karanjot “KJ” Kaur graduated from UC San Diego in 2020 with a B.S. in Cognitive Science with a specialization in Neuroscience and a minor in Psychology. She is currently working with Dr. Rossano on designing a battery of tests to investigate social cognition of children in rural and urban India. Her research also focuses on studying underprivileged children such as Child Beggars.

Research Assistants

Katie Corpuz

Team Lead

Trang Chu

Team Lead

Genavieve Koenigshofer

Team Lead

Anne Tu

Boning Yang

Calder Hilde-Jones

Cassandra Hendrickson

Hyoser Jo

Kaitlin Lee

Nishtha Bhatka

Rebecca Eshtiaghpour

Seika Murase

Anya Gommeren

Micah San Andres

Brinda Narayanan

Kaylee Hou

Declan Healy

Cassandra Paul

Soren Boddy

Wenqian (Trista) Xu

Marianna Amato