Mahesh Srinivasan, Professor

Open (1) Research on Children's Linguistic and Cognitive Development

Open. Apprentices needed for the fall semester. Please do NOT contact faculty before September 11th (the start of the 4th week of classes)! Enter your application on the web beginning August 16th. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, August 29th at 8 AM.

The goal of this program is to provide a comprehensive, hands-on research experience to highly motivated students, while making valuable contributions to cognitive science.

Our lab's research explores how linguistic, cognitive, and social abilities arise during human development. A central goal of our research is exploring how these different aspects of development interact with one another.

This program is ideal for students who are highly motivated in going to graduate school in psychology, cognitive science, linguistics, or related fields and/or students who are interested in working toward an undergraduate honors thesis.

Students will work closely with the professor, the lab manager, graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and each other, and will be involved in many facets of the research process.

This will include reading relevant theoretical and empirical papers, assisting with data collection and study design, creating stimuli, recruiting participants, processing or analyzing data, and programming experiments. Students may also test participants at schools and/or museums in the Bay Area. Lastly, students will have the opportunity to attend lab meetings and to present on the projects they are assigned.

The outcome of these activities will be an enriched understanding of the core concepts of developmental psychology, cognitive science, language acquisition, and of the scientific method.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Catherine Berner, Staff Researcher

Qualifications: REQUIREMENTS: At least nine hours of work per week for two semesters and a flexible scheduled (since you will need to work a mix of weekday and weekend hours each week). Have a strong interest in language acquisition, child development, and/or cognitive science. Have taken coursework in at least two of the following (Please talk about this in your application): Linguistics, Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Psychology, Philosophy, or Statistics. Have visited our website and read about our research before applying to the lab. DESIRED, THOUGH NOT REQUIRED: (Please talk about these additional skills/experience in your application) - Computer Programming experience (Python, R, Javascript, HTML, etc.) - Native level of fluency at comprehending and speaking English - Experience with statistical data analysis -Experience working with children - Experience working with eye tracking technology - Experience doing behavioral coding - Experience with Excel and PowerPoint - Experience working with Qualtrics and Amazon's Mechanical Turk

Weekly Hours: 9-12 hrs

Related website: http://lcdlab.berkeley.edu/

Closed (2) Language and Thought in Chinese

Closed. This professor is continuing with Spring 2017 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Fall 2017.

In this project, we are exploring whether the language you speak influences the way in which you conceptualize the world. One way of addressing this question is to explore whether differences between language result in differences among speakers of different languages. This research will be conducted within Professor Srinivasan's Language and Cognitive Development Lab, within the Department of Psychology.

The student researcher for this project will work closely with the professor and the lab manager, and will be involved in all facets of the research process, including attending lab meetings, reading relevant theoretical and empirical papers, designing experiments, recruiting participants, conducting studies, coding and analyzing data. The student will come away with a strong understanding of research in language and cognition.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Catherine Berner, Staff Researcher

Qualifications: Required: -Fluency in Chinese (Mandarin or Cantonese): ability to speak, read, and write Chinese at a native level of fluency -Experience in computer programming (and especially proficiency in MatLab and PsychToolBox), to assist with programming of simple experiments -A strong interest in language and cognition Desired but not essential: -Relevant coursework in Psychology, Cognitive Science, Linguistics, Computer Science, or Philosophy is desired but not essential.

Weekly Hours: 9-12 hrs

Related website: http://lcdlab.berkeley.edu

Closed (3) Cognitive, social, and emotional development in early childhood: Education outreach in a children’s museum

Closed. This professor is continuing with Spring 2017 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Fall 2017.

This apprenticeship is a unique opportunity to work with one of the developmental psychology labs and the Bay Area Discovery Museum in Sausalito, CA. A central goal will be to develop an interactive toy or game for young children that highlights a recent research finding in cognitive, social, or emotional development.

Student researchers will be given the opportunity to explore and expand their interest in cognitive, social, and emotional development by completing a research project that involves designing an engaging and interactive activity for young children that can be facilitated in a museum environment. These “research toys” will be added to a collection of activities used by museum educators at the Bay Area Discovery Museum to help educate parents about the methods researchers use to study child development and some of the important findings in the field.

The mission of the Bay Area Discovery Museum is to ignite and advance creative thinking for all children. The museum hosts more than 300,000 visitors annually, and is located on 7.5 acres at the base of the Golden Gate Bridge in Sausalito, California. Children ages 6 months to 8 years, their caregivers and teachers challenge the boundaries of creativity with every visit.


First, student researchers will visit the Bay Area Discovery Museum to observe the research toy program in action and given the opportunity to talk with some of the museum’s education staff about their experience facilitating research toys with museum visitors. Next, student researchers will work closely with a graduate student in Dr. Srinivasan’s lab and a few team members at the museum to select an empirical study that lends itself well to developing a research toy. Students will be given a small stipend to purchase materials to build their toy or game. After students have completed a research toy, including a parent handout, a guide for the museum staff with directions on how to facilitate the toy, and toy prototype, they will visit the museum a second time and have the opportunity to showcase their toy or game with museum visitors.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Ruthe Foushee, Graduate Student

Qualifications: A strong interest in cognitive, social or emotional development is required. Relevant coursework in Psychology or Early Childhood Development is desired. Previous experience working in a research laboratory and working with young children (ages 2-6 years) is also desired, though not required. Students with strong communication and writing skills are also desired.

Weekly Hours: 3-6 hrs

Related website: http://lcdlab.berkeley.edu
Related website: http://www.baykidsmuseum.org/

Open (4) Research on Computational Analyses of Language

Open. Apprentices needed for the fall semester. Please do NOT contact faculty before September 11th (the start of the 4th week of classes)! Enter your application on the web beginning August 16th. The deadline to apply is Tuesday, August 29th at 8 AM.

This project explores language development by analyzing linguistic data sources such as databases of child speech, cross-linguistic corpora, historical corpora, etc.
This allows us to ask unique questions about language development such as what language children hear in their environments, what language children produce at different ages, and how different linguistic patterns develop.
One aspect of this project that would be ideal if applicants were either already proficient or interested in is the design of semi-automated online experiments using platforms like Qualtrics and Amazon's Mechanical Turk.

Our student researchers will work closely with the professor, the lab manager, and each other, and will be involved in all facets of the research process, including reading relevant theoretical and empirical papers, identifying relevant language corpora whether the data sources are child speech, cross-linguistic corpora, historical corpora, etc, performing searches of transcripts for target words and grammatical features using a specialized programming language, coding the resulting data for analysis, and analyzing the data.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Catherine Berner, Staff Researcher

Qualifications: A strong interest in language and cognition is required. Must have a native understanding of English and familiarity with syntax and grammatical morphology (e.g., verb tense). A Linguistics background is very helpful. Previous experience with corpus analysis and proficient programming skills with Python are strongly preferred, though not required. Knowledge and direct experience with distributed semantics or word vector representations are also highly desirable but not required. Strong attention to detail is essential. Because we try to engage student researchers in a comprehensive research experience, training often takes up the better part of the semester. For this reason, we are interested in hiring students who are able to commit to more than one semester. In your application, please also specify whether you are able to continue working this spring and/or the following fall semester.

Weekly Hours: 9-12 hrs

Related website: http://lcdlab.berkeley.edu