Mahesh Srinivasan, Professor

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

Applications for Spring 2019 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.

MATH CONCEPT: The following is a specific project. If you are interested in it, please note it in your application. However, this is only one project and it has some specific requirements that are not shared by the other projects. Among the many projects going on in our lab, a specific project explores children's and adults' conceptions of the field of mathematics via interviews, in-person games, and online experiments. We're interested in creative ways to capture how individuals think about math, and influences on those ideas. If this specifically sounds interesting to you, please note it in your application.

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 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.

MATH CONCEPT: For this project specifically, applicants should be either already proficient or interested in the design of semi-automated online experiments using Qualtrics and Amazon's Mechanical Turk and should have a strong computational background

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Jon Wehry, 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 in 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. MATH CONCEPT: A strong computational background and extensive programing skills are required. You should also be familiar with or interested in statistics and machine learning. Please discuss these in your application and make sure to note your interest in Math Concept.

Weekly Hours: 9-11 hrs

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

Closed (2) Analysis of Cross-cultural Research (Hindi)

Applications for Spring 2019 are now closed for this project.

The goal of this program is to provide hands-on cross-cultural 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. The central goal of this project is analyzing cross-cultural research collected in India. This project involves analyzing data collected in Hindi, so any applicants are required to be fluent in Hindi and English. See https://qz.com/1307037/kids-in-india-might-be-the-future-of-religious-tolerance/ to read about previous work our lab has done in India.

This program is ideal for students fluent in English and Hindi, and 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 and/or students who are interested in cross-cultural research.

Our student researchers will work closely with the professor, graduate students, the lab manager, and each other, and will primarily be involved in transcribing, translating, and coding existing data from Hindi to English.

This will also include 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: Jon Wehry, Staff Researcher

Qualifications: SIX REQUIREMENTS (Please talk about these in your application): 1) Strong communication skills, and a native level of fluency in spoken and written English and Hindi. 2) Strong interest in language acquisition and/or cognitive development. 3) Have taken coursework in at least two of the following: Linguistics, Cognitive Science, Computer Science, Psychology, Philosophy, or Statistics. 4) Strong attention to detail. 5) Strong organizational skills. 6) Have visited our lab website and read about our research before applying. TIME COMMITMENT: 1) Preferably nine hours of work per week, but can be negotiated. 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 doing behavioral coding.

Weekly Hours: 9-11 hrs

Related website: http://lcdlab.berkeley.edu/
Related website: https://qz.com/1307037/kids-in-india-might-be-the-future-of-religious-tolerance/

Closed (3) Trajectories of Linguistic Complexity in Child- and Adult-directed Speech

Applications for Spring 2019 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, adult speech corpora, etc.

This allows us to ask unique questions about language development such as what language children hear in their environments from difference sources, how that input and children's own production changes over time, and what that can tell us about the mechanisms of language development.


For aspects of this project, it 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 graduate student, 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, performing searches on the corpora using a specialized programming language, coding the resulting data for analysis, and analyzing the data.

Day-to-day supervisor for this project: Ruthe Foushee, Ph.D. candidate

Qualifications: SEVEN REQUIRED SKILLS: 1) A strong computational background. 2) Extensive programming skills in Python. 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) Comfort with Github and strong code commenting. 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 summer and/or the following fall or spring. ADDITIONAL PREFERRED SKILLS (NOT REQUIRED): 1) A Linguistics background. 2) Experience with corpus analysis. 3) Experience with MySQL (which the student will otherwise be expected to learn in the course of this research).

Weekly Hours: 9-11 hrs

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

Closed (4) Computational Modeling of Child Language

Applications for Spring 2019 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.

One of the specific projects we will be focusing on for the spring semester 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 developing a tool that will allow people to annotate the meanings of each word in a sentence, and help automate this process.

For aspects of this project, it would be ideal if applicants were either already proficient or interested 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 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: Jon Wehry, Staff Researcher

Qualifications: FIVE REQUIRED SKILLS: 1) A strong computational background 2) Extensive programming skills in Python and 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. 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.

Weekly Hours: 9-11 hrs

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