We are recruiting graduate students to join the lab in Fall 2024. See the page "Joining the Lab" for more information.

Lab Director: Shari Liu, PhD

curriculum vitae // request a rec letter

Every day, we look out into the world and see scenes of people in motion, and make sense of these scenes by appealing to their underlying causes. We appreciate that other people have mental lives, including desires, percepts, and beliefs, and we also understand that people are solid bodies, who can exert forces and navigate themselves through a physical world. How do our minds and brains get so much meaning from this input, and how we grow to this knowledge over development?

I am committed to making science more open (transparent, reproducible, and inclusive). Part of this commitment is providing high-quality mentorship to students from all backgrounds. As a first-generation immigrant to the US who stumbled into science, I am aware that without supportive mentors, and a great deal of personal development, I would have stumbled out. Here is a working draft of my mentorship philosophy.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Minjae Kim (2023 - )

I'm interested in how we reason about people's mental states and traits, generate explanations for unexpected events, and use our models of people and situations to predict future events. I received my BA in Neuroscience from Swarthmore College in 2015, and my PhD in Psychology and Neuroscience from Boston College in 2023. 

Graduate Students

Joseph Outa [website] (2023 - )

Humans have a remarkable ability to reason and behave flexibly in the physical and social world. This stems from our ability to form abstract representations rooted in intuitive, domain-specific, causal knowledge about objects, agents, and their properties. I am interested in using behavioral and computational methods to study how this knowledge emerges in infancy and childhood.

Tal Boger [website] (2023 - )

I’m officially advised by Chaz Firestone, but also collaborate with the Liu Lab. I am interested in studying how the mind separates content and form, especially as it relates to how we understand the complexity of the world around us.

Lab Manager / Technician

Sam Maione (2023 - )

My biggest interest is where developmental cognitive neuroscience and clinical research intersect. Many neuropsychiatric disorders have developmental roots, and I wish to understand why these disorders form and how treatment can change alongside development. I received my BS in Integrative Neuroscience from Binghamton University in 2023, and hope to go on someday to attain an MD/PhD, eventually working as a researcher with part time work as a psychiatrist. 

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Sebastian Jimenez (2024 - )

I'm a Summer student researcher as part of the BEHAVE REU program and am currently majoring in biology at the University of Tennessee at Chattanooga. 

I am curious if and how evolution of the ability to process and respond to external stimuli with increasing complexity would eventually lead to cognition, the subjective experience of life, and the development of consciousness in humans. 

Thalia Mason (2024 - )

I’ve always enjoyed working with kids, and I’m interested in learning more about what elements of learning are intuitive to children and how we can apply this to education and parenting. In the future, I hope to contribute to our understanding of child development and pursue a career as a pediatrician.

Ava Payton (2024 - )

I love learning about child psychology and how children evolve emotionally and socially. I'm interested in what motivates children's and young adult's reasoning, especially how they develop logic. Additionally, I want to understand how psychiatric disorders factor into development.


Assiya Drissi (2024)

Undergraduate researcher