About me

I’m a second-year PhD student in developmental psychology at Stanford University.

I’m primarily interested in the role of language in how we represent categories. Somehow as we grow up, we learn to carve the world into categories. We learn to parse the world in terms of dogs and cats, tables and chairs, and through the lens of social categories like gender and race.

Here are a handful of questions I’ve been pondering:

  • How do we develop these category representations? Given the infinite ways we could theoretically categorize the world, how do we learn what properties and distinctions are relevant, meaningful, and/or value-laden?
  • How does language shape children’s developing category representations? For an example, how do the types of explanations we hear influence what we think about particular categories?
  • How variable and flexible are our category representations across different contexts and language experiences?

Other interests of mine include metaphor, non-literal language, and pragmatics, as well as how people usually think about traditional philosophical problems regarding object identity and personal identity. I’m also curious about theories of the self and different modes of being.

Where I am and where I’ve been

In the academic world

Currently, I work with Ellen Markman at Stanford University. I graduated from the University of Chicago in 2018, where I studied psychology and philosophy. As an undergraduate, I explored the role of bodily experience in understanding language in Daniel Casasanto’s lab at UChicago. As an undergraduate summer intern, I studied the development of kind representations in Susan Carey’s lab at Harvard University, and biases in causal reasoning in Frank Keil’s lab at Yale University.

In the non-academic world

I have spent most of my life in big cities - New York, Chicago, Beijing, Hong Kong - so the Bay Area has been a change. You can find me climbing things and exploring caves, or driving anxiously and slowly on the highway (sorry!). As part of my continual struggle to keep in touch with my Chinese heritage, I’ve been learning to cook Chinese food. I’ve been involved for a long time in the quizbowl community, where I have been particularly active on issues and projects relating to representation, diversity, and inclusivity.