About me

Academic bio (official version)

I’m a PhD candidate in developmental psychology at Stanford University, working with Ellen Markman. 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.

Academic bio (unofficial version)

I grew up in New York with scientist parents who worked in cell biology, but I gravitated towards humanities and social sciences. I was lucky to attend a high school where I learned about psychology and philosophy in classes and quizbowl. I loved the big weighty questions philosophers asked, but I was more hungry for answers than philosophy seemed to provide.

I went off to Chicago for college, because I wanted to explore a different big city and meet new people. At UChicago, I dabbled in a bunch of fields before I realized that psychologists also considered big weighty questions and could even reach empirical answers, so I became a psychology major. I applied to many psychology labs at UChicago to learn about research, and the only one who took a chance on me was Daniel Casasanto. In his lab, I reflected on my experience switching and traveling between two languages (English/Mandarin) and cultures (New York/Beijing), and got excited about how language shapes our experience of the world.

I applied to summer research internships my first two summers for a change of scenery and ways of thinking. In Frank Keil’s lab at Yale, I worked with a fantastic mentor who loved philosophy and movies, learned about developmental psychology for the first time, and got so bored in New Haven I went home to New York every weekend. I was curious to learn more about developmental psychology (the origins of all my questions in childhood) so I went to Susan Carey’s lab at Harvard, where I was immersed in the intersection of philosophy and psychology and first became interested in how language shapes the way children develop category representations. After I returned to UChicago, I was adopted by the amazing Susan Goldin-Meadow after Daniel’s move to Cornell, and I dropped my second major in philosophy to a minor because I couldn’t resist taking another cool psychology elective instead of Elementary Logic.

In the course of undergrad, I was very lucky to: 1) figure out that I liked research, 2) figure out a narrowly focused topic that I wanted to research for several years, and 3) accumulated enough research experience in undergrad to qualify me to do it. As a result, I applied to PhD programs my senior year. I would not recommend applying to PhD programs unless you are sure of all of these (see resources), and am happy to share my experience and advice on this decision.

For graduate school, I was torn between staying in Chicago or starting a new adventure in the Bay Area. I loved the community of people at Stanford, but my partner’s then-job tied him to Chicago. With his support, I went off to Stanford start a PhD in psychology and a long-distance relationship. We managed to reunite in the chaos of the COVID-19 pandemic, and now live together in Palo Alto with friends.

Outside academia

I’m a second-generation Asian American woman. I’m an East Coast person at heart, and I’ve spent most of my life in big cities - New York, Chicago, Beijing, Hong Kong - so the Bay Area has been a change. In the Bay Area, you can find me hiking trails, climbing things, and exploring caves. Back on the East Coast, I’m usually exploring museum exhibits, attending plays, and watching independent movies. I’ve also been involved in the quizbowl community for more than a decade, where I have been particularly active on issues relating to diversity and inclusivity.

I speak English (my native language) and Mandarin (my heritage language).