Mahesh Srinivasan, Professor

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

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

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 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, assisting with stimuli creation and preparation of study materials, recruiting participants, and processing or analyzing data. Students may also test participants online. 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: Grace Horton, Staff Researcher

Qualifications: SIX REQUIREMENTS (Please talk about these in your application): 1) Strong interest in language acquisition and/or cognitive development. 2) Have taken coursework in at least two of the following: Linguistics, Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Psychology, Philosophy, or Statistics. 3) Strong attention to detail. 4) Strong organizational skills. 5) Strong communication skills, and a native level of fluency in spoken and written English. 6) Have visited our lab website and read about our research before applying. TIME COMMITMENT: 1) Nine hours of work per week, and a flexible schedule (since you will need to work a mix of weekday and weekend hours each week). 2) Two semesters of work with the lab. In your application, please specify whether you are able to continue working this summer and/or the following fall or spring. ADDITIONAL PREFERRED SKILLS (Not Required, but if you have them, please talk about these skills in your application): 1) Computer Programming experience (Python, R, Javascript, HTML, etc.). 2) Experience with statistical data analysis. 3) Experience working with children. 4) Experience working with eye tracking technology. 5) Experience doing behavioral coding. 6) Experience with Excel and PowerPoint. 7) Experience working with Qualtrics and/or Amazon's Mechanical Turk.

Weekly Hours: 9-11 hrs

Off-Campus Research Site: remote

NOTE: If COVID-19 conditions improve, there may be in-person work if the research assistant is comfortable with doing it (not required to be able to work in-person).

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

Closed (2) Tracing the Meanings of Words in Parent-Child Conversations (Requires Native Fluency in English)

Closed. This professor is continuing with Spring 2021 apprentices on this project; no new apprentices needed for Fall 2021.

Please note this project requires native fluency in English. That is, you should have started learning English from birth or before age 5. This project explores language development by analyzing transcripts of parent-child conversations. 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 of the specific projects we will be focusing on is the development of a tool that predicts which of a word's many different senses of meaning are being used in any particular sentence (e.g., whether 'chicken' is referring to the animal or to the meat). This problem, of sense disambiguation, is a central challenge in natural language processing. The apprentice working on this project will work on annotating the meaning (or senses) of words from parent-child interactions in the CHILDES Providence corpus.

For aspects of this project, it would be ideal if applicants were interested in corpus analysis, polysemy, linguistics, and/or computational analysis of language corpora.

Our student researchers will work closely with the professor, the lab manager, grad students and postdocs, and each other and will be involved in many facets of the research process, including reading relevant theoretical and empirical papers, annotating MacArthur-Bates CDI words in the CHILDES Providence corpus, being involved in analysis where possible, and producing and presenting a poster at the end of the semester with the other research assistants on this project.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Grace Horton, Staff Researcher

Qualifications: 1) Strong interest in language acquisition and/or cognitive development. 2) Have taken coursework in at least two of the following: Linguistics, Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Psychology, Philosophy, or Statistics. 3) Strong attention to detail. 4) Strong organizational skills. 5) Strong communication skills, and a native level of fluency in spoken and written English. 6) Have visited our lab website and read about our research before applying. TIME COMMITMENT: 1) Nine hours of work per week preferred. 2) Two semesters of work with the lab preferred. In your application, please specify whether you are able to continue working this summer and/or the following fall or spring. ADDITIONAL PREFERRED SKILLS (Not required at all, but if you have them, please talk about these skills in your application): 1) Computer Programming experience (Python, R, Javascript, HTML, etc.). 2) Experience with statistical data analysis. 3) Experience working with children. 4) Experience doing behavioral coding. 5) Experience with Excel and PowerPoint. 6) Experience working with Qualtrics and/or Amazon's Mechanical Turk. 7) A Linguistics background. 8) Experience with corpus analysis. 9) Experience with distributed semantics or word vector representations. TWO SEMESTERS REQUESTED: Because we try to engage student researchers in a comprehensive research experience, training and familiarization often takes up the better part of the semester. For this reason, we are strongly interested in hiring students who are able to commit to more than one semester, although those who are only able to commit to one semester are still encouraged. In your application, please also specify whether you are able to continue working this fall and/or the following spring or summer. We may have funding to support the student over the summer.

Weekly Hours: 9-11 hrs

Off-Campus Research Site: remote

NOTE: If COVID-19 conditions improve, there may be in-person work if the research assistant is comfortable with doing it (not required to be able to work in-person).

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

Closed (3) Tracking Parent-Child Conversations During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

During these unprecedented times, families are often forced to change their daily routines and encounter newfound or exacerbated life stressors. We are interested in exploring how this might be reflected in the way parents speak to their children.

This study researches parents’ and children’s daily routines during the COVID-19 pandemic through surveys that measure activities, mood, and worries about the pandemic, finances, the future, and more. Audio recordings of parent-child interactions are collected from families each day to track changes in parent-child interactions. This allows us to gather multiple data points from each participant and examine how external factors such as job or financial insecurity might lead to changes in mood and child interaction over the course of the pandemic.


Our student researchers will work closely with the professor, the lab manager, grad students and postdocs, and each other and will be involved in many facets of the research process, including reading relevant theoretical and empirical papers transcribing our audio data, being involved in analysis where possible, and producing and presenting a poster at the end of the semester with the other research assistants on this project.


Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Monica Ellwood-Lowe, Staff Researcher

Qualifications: 1) Strong interest in language acquisition and/or cognitive development. 2) Have taken coursework in at least two of the following: Linguistics, Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Psychology, Philosophy, or Statistics. 3) Strong attention to detail. 4) Strong organizational skills. 5) Strong communication skills, and a native level of fluency in spoken and written English. 6) Have visited our lab website and read about our research before applying. TIME COMMITMENT: 1) Nine hours of work per week preferred. 2) Two semesters of work with the lab preferred. In your application, please specify whether you are able to continue working this summer and/or the following fall or spring. ADDITIONAL PREFERRED SKILLS (Not Required, but if you have them, please talk about these skills in your application): 1) Computer Programming experience (Python, R, Javascript, HTML, etc.). 2) Experience with statistical data analysis. 3) Experience working with children. 4) Experience working with eye tracking technology. 5) Experience doing behavioral coding. 6) Experience with Excel and PowerPoint. 7) Experience working with Qualtrics and/or Amazon's Mechanical Turk. 8) Experience with corpus analysis

Weekly Hours: 9-11 hrs

Off-Campus Research Site: remote

NOTE: If COVID-19 conditions improve, there may be in-person work if the research assistant is comfortable with doing it (not required to be able to work in-person).

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

Closed (4) Computational Modeling of Child Language

Applications for fall 2021 are now closed for this project.

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. Additionally, we can explore how words have changed in meaning over time, and similarities and differences across different languages.

For aspects of this project, it would be ideal if applicants were either already proficient or interested in computational analyses of language corpora. Experience with semi-automated online experiments using platforms like Qualtrics and Amazon's Mechanical Turk is also desired.

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 corpora for target words and grammatical features using a specialized programming language, coding the resulting data for analysis, and analyzing the data., Staff Researcher

Qualifications: SEVEN REQUIRED SKILLS: 1) A strong computational background. 2) Extensive programming skills in Python and /or web design (html, javascript, etc.). 3) Experience with natural language processing and/or machine learning. 4) A strong interest in language and cognition. 5) Strong attention to detail. 6) A native understanding of English and familiarity with syntax and grammatical morphology (e.g., verb tense). 7) Strong code commenting. Students from cognitive science and computer science are particularly encouraged to apply. TWO SEMESTERS REQUIRED: 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 spring or summer. We may have funding to support the student over the summer. ADDITIONAL PREFERRED SKILLS (NOT REQUIRED): 1) A Linguistics background. 2) Experience with corpus analysis. 3) Experience with distributed semantics or word vector representations. 4) Experience with MySQL 5) Comfort with Github

Weekly Hours: 9-11 hrs

Off-Campus Research Site: remote

NOTE: If COVID-19 conditions improve, there may be in-person work if the research assistant is comfortable with doing it (not required to be able to work in-person).

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