Director, Cognitive Development Laboratory

Mary Gauvain, Ph.D.
Ph.D., University of Utah, 1982; M.A. Stanford University, 1976; B.A., UC Irvine, 1975
I am a developmental psychologist and professor in the Department of Psychology at UC Riverside. In my research, I study cognitive development in early and middle childhood. I am interested in how children's experiences with other people and with the tools and practices of culture contribute to the development of thinking. My current research focuses on social and cultural practices related to children's health and well being and includes investigations of concept development regarding water and food contamination among children in Sub-Saharan Africa (with Heidi Beebe, Ph.D.) and how exposure to smoke from wood burning fires relates to cognitive development (with R. L. Munroe, Ph.D.). I am a Co-PI on an NSF funded IGERT project focused on water, the environment and sustainability. I am a member of the UC Global Health Initiative (UCGHI) and currently serve as Co-Director of the UCGHI Center of Expertise on One Health: Water, Animals, Food and Society.
Office: 2111F Psychology

Current Ph.D. Students

Julienne Palbusa, Lab Manager
M.A., UC Riverside, 2012; B.S., College of William and Mary, 2007
I am a fourth year graduate student in the Department of Psychology at UC Riverside. My research interests include the transition to adulthood as well as individual, family, and institutional factors that influence students' access to higher education and college success, especially for first-generation students and students from ethnic minority backgrounds. Prior to beginning my studies at UC Riverside, I assisted projects for the Child and Family Research Section at the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. I was also a research assistant for the Board of Children, Youth, and Families at the National Academies in Washington, DC. I received my B.S. in psychology from the College of William & Mary and my M.A in psychology from UC Riverside.
Office: 2131 Psychology

Z Reisz
M.A. UC Riverside, 2011; B.S. University of New Mexico, 2006
I am a fifth year graduate student in the Social and Personality psychology graduate program at UCR. I received a B.S. in psychology from the University of New Mexico and an M.A. from the University of California, Riverside. My research is centered on developing a better understanding of the properties of knowledge that facilitates expert performance. Specifically my research seeks to assess the content and organization of knowledge that is predictive of the ability to solve contextual problems. The further application of this research is to provide learning feedback that is informative to both the student and educational program.
Office: 2133 Psychology

Christina Nicolaides
B.S., University of North Florida, 2011
I am a graduate student in the Developmental area of the Psychology Department at the University of California, Riverside. My research focusses on cognitive development, developmental context, and the transition to formal schooling in early childhood. Recently, I have expanded my research interests to include the developmental context of children in military families with a deployed parent and how this context might influence child development. I received my B.S. in psychology with a concentration in Child Psychology from the University of North Florida.
Military Families Study Email:
Office: 2131 Psychology

Daniel Harmon
B.A. UC Santa Cruz, 2012
I have a B.A. in Psychology from UCSC. My research interests are games and children's co-participation in games and the influence of this experience on learning in both formal and informal education settings.
Office: 2133 Psychology

Recent Ph.D. Graduates

Heidi Beebe, Visiting Assistant Professor, Pacific Lutheran University
Ph.D., University of California, Riverside, 2012; B.A., University of Illinois, Chicago, 2006
My research focuses on social and cultural contributions to cognitive processes. I investigate the development of contamination sensitivity and biological concepts. Specifically, I study social factors that influence how children learn about health behaviors and concepts, especially for children in developing countries and economically disadvantaged areas in the U.S. I am also interested in how newly learned health knowledge and behaviors can be incorporated into everyday practices and shared within the family or larger community.

Yingqiu Pan, Associate Professor, Xiamen University
Ph.D., University of California, Riverside, 2007; M.A., University of California, Riverside, 2004; M.S., Institute of Psychology of CAS, China 2000; B.A., Anhui Normal University, China 1997
I am interested in the development of adolescents' critical thinking and motivational processes associated with their academic learning. Currently, I am working on trust development among children as well as the role of culture in the development of children's trust.

Susan M. Perez, Associate Professor, University of North Florida
Ph.D., University of California, Riverside, 2007; B.A. Pitzer College
I study cognitive development from a sociocultural perspective. I am interested in children's opportunities to develop complex cognitive skills like decision making, problem solving, and planning in the family context, usually while interacting with parents. I am also interested in how these opportunities and children's emerging skills are related to children's emotional development, including parental socialization of emotion, and children's academic adjustment across early and middle childhood. I am currently an Associate Professor of Psychology at the University of North Florida.

Shuheng (Sue) Zhao, Educational Program Evaluator, KeyData Systems
Ph.D., University of California, Riverside, 2013; B.S., California State University, San Marcos, 2004
I worked in the Cognitive Development Laboratory from 2006 to 2013, studying familial contribution to children's development of self-regulation (i.e., planning and self-regulated learning in academic domains) during early and middle childhood. My dissertation examined how everyday family activities contribute to Chinese American children's development of self-regulated learning in the early years of elementary school. I am currently working as an educational program evaluator at KeyData Systems. I evaluate educational interventions that target economically disadvantaged children and adolescents. I also evaluate educational assessments designed to improve students' academic achievement.

Research Assistants

  • Sindi Concebida
  • Chrishy Espinoza
  • Nabila Jamal-Orozco
  • Alex Leung
  • Lizette Llamas
  • Raven Mendez
  • Jorge Monroy

Home Projects Collaborations People Information Contact