Research Team


Melissa Yako, Lab Manager

Raised in the Chicago suburbs, I decided to remain in Urbana after graduating with my Master’s in Social Work at the U of I. My background in Psychology, time working in community engagement as an AmeriCorps VISTA member, and love of working with children have really made the Infant Cognition Lab a fun and interesting place for me to work. When I’m not working in the lab, I enjoy spending time with my husband, my children, and our family and friends.

Danielle Parrish, Lead Scheduler

I started working in the lab as an undergrad in 2006 and have been here ever since. I have even brought my two daughters in for studies when I had the chance! Outside of the lab, I enjoy exploring new places in Champaign-Urbana, as well as just spending time at home with my family.

Abby Olson, Research Staff

Karis Crook, Research Staff

I worked in the ICL as an undergraduate assistant until I graduated from the University of Illinois with a Bachelor of Science degree in Developmental Psychology in May 2021. My research interests are moral reasoning and language development in early childhood. I plan to continue my education with a Ph.D.
I live with my partner, a master’s student in Special Education, our newborn daughter, and two cats.

Steven Holland, Graphic Designer

I have been a technical Illustrator at the University of Illinois since 1974. Beginning in 1988, I joined the Department of Psychology as the technical Illustrator, later adding the Department of Anthropology to my responsibilities as well. Since 1988, I have illustrated all of the Infant Cognition Laboratory’s research, and the work has been the highlight of my career; I strive to make the research clear and understandable through my illustrations.


Fernando Sanchez Hernandez
I’m a 5th year Ph.D. student in the developmental concentration working primarily with Dr. Dan Hyde and collaborating with Dr. Renée Baillargeon and Dr. Sean Laurent (now at the Pennsylvania State University). I’m particularly interested in examining the psychological mechanisms associated with inequity aversion in young children, ingroup support in infants, and agency attribution in adults. To examine these constructs, I design engaging behavioral tasks that allow me to measure children’s responses to inequality, design animations aimed to measure infants’ visual attention, and program online surveys to measure adults’ attributions of agency in online settings.

Amanda Rose Yuile
I am a Ph.D. Student studying Developmental Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. I work with Professors Cindy Fisher and Renée Baillargeon.
I am interested in how children represent events and how they use those event representations in online language comprehension and word learning. I am also interested in infants’ ability to represent the mental states of others, as well as how these mental state representations become elaborated and integrated with other cognitive processes across development.


Francesco Antilici
I am a teaching fellow in Philosophy at the University of Birmingham, UK. I work in the philosophy of mind and cognitive science. One of my research interests concerns the development of theory of mind; more broadly, I am interested in how empirical findings from cognitive science affect classic philosophical debates, including the innateness-empiricism debate among others. In my PhD thesis, I defended a nativist account of false-belief understanding. In 2016 I visited ICL and I have since been collaborating with Professor Renée Baillargeon.

Lin Bian
I am an Assistant Professor of Psychology at the University of Chicago. My research examines the development of social cognition, with an emphasis on children’s reasoning about social categories. In this vein, I have pursued two major lines of research: One line of work focuses on infants’ and toddlers’ sociomoral expectations and how they apply to interactions within vs. across group boundaries; the other line of work focuses on the acquisition of stereotypes about social groups and their consequences on children’s motivation

Melody Buyukozer Dawkins
I am a researcher at Slover Linett Audience Research and an alumna of the Infant Cognition Lab. In my current work, I bring together my training as a developmental psychologist and work as a labor organizer, focusing on issues of fairness, access, and equity. Using both quantitative and qualitative methods, I prioritize a community-based participatory approach to bring the margins to the mainstream via social research and support arts and culture organizations in becoming more equitable, community-oriented, responsive, and supportive to diverse audiences.

Zijing He
I was a Ph.D. student at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and have worked with Professor Baillargeon for many years. I am now an Associate Professor in the Psychology Department of the Sun Yat-sen University in China. I am interested in young children’s social cognitive development and how this development is influenced by the parent-child interaction.

Kyong-sun Jin
I am an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Sungshin Women’s University, South Korea. I worked with Professor Renée Baillargeon as a graduate student and we are continuing our collaborative projects on the development of social cognition. In our research, I am studying infants’ and young children’s sociomoral reasoning, the ability to understand how people should act toward each other. I am also interested in early psychological reasoning, the ability to understand others’ mind.

Yi Lin
I am currently a postdoctoral researcher at New York University. I completed my Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where I worked with Professors Cindy Fisher and Renée Baillargeon. I am interested in the following questions: How do preschoolers and adults continuously update their verb and syntactic knowledge to adapt to changing input? How do infants represent and reason about objects in simple physical events? How do infants represent and learn about different kinds of entities in the physical world, such as objects and scenes? How do infants learn the meaning of number words? I use looking-time, eye-tracking, and production tasks to explore these questions.

Francesco Margoni
I am a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oslo. I am interested in investigating our early-emerging capacity to generate the representation of legitimate leadership and, more broadly, the cognitive processes underpinning the development of moral judgment.

Rose Scott
I am an Associate Professor in the Psychological Sciences department at the University of California, Merced. My research investigates the development of social cognition and language abilities in early childhood. In particular, I am interested in when children develop the ability to represent and reason about others’ false beliefs, how false-belief reasoning develops across early childhood, and the cognitive and social factors that contribute to this development.

Peipei Setoh
I am an Associate Professor at Nanyang Technological University in Singapore. My research examines children’s moral development, social cognition, and social reasoning.

Maayan Stavans
I am a Postdoc researcher at the Cognitive Development Center in the Cognitive Science department at the Central European University in Budapest (Hungary). In my current research projects with Prof. Gergo Csibra, I explore what infants and children remember and infer from observed behaviors and social interactions, and whether these inferences spontaneously guide partner choice in children. Previously, I have worked with Prof. Renee Baillargeon and Prof. Gil Diesendruck (Bar-Ilan University, Israel) on various topics, such as early concepts of leadership in infants and children and infants’ understanding of the physical world of objects.

Fransisca Ting
I am a Postdoctoral Researcher at Boston University. In my research, I study how infants and children reason about various sociomoral concepts, such as punishments, moral character, obligations, and rights. Additionally, I am also interested in animacy detection and biological reasoning.


Saanvi Bapna
Tara Gallagher
Grace Kellie
Hannah Lee
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Lily Noonan
Dupe Olagoke

Alina Aali
Skylar Epstein
Amruta Hegde
Emily Harner
Jacquelin Hsu
Dua Iftikhar
Mina Kim
Shalini Kolli
Lissie Kontos
Lydia Kurtz
Mary Memenga
Maddy Rogers
Amanda Schaefges
Sonia Thakkar