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Anna Papafragou is Professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania. She is currently the Director of the interdisciplinary Graduate Program in Language and Communication Sciences and a member of the Psychology Graduate Group at Penn. Anna received her B.A. in Linguistics with highest honors from the University of Athens and her Ph.D. in Linguistics from University College London. She received postdoctoral training at the University of California at Berkeley and the University of Pennsylvania (where she worked with Lila Gleitman at the Institute for Research in Cognitive Science). She previously served on the faculty in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at the University of Delaware with a joint appointment in the Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science.

Anna has published over 75 articles and chapters and has given over 95 invited talks on how children acquire meanings in language, how language is used and understood, and how language interfaces with human perception and cognition. Her work has been supported by multiple grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation. Anna is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science and a recipient of the Young Scholars Award of the Francis Alison Society, one of the highest awards for faculty at UD. She regularly teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on experimental semantics and pragmatics, language acquisition, and the relationship between language and thought. Anna is committed to promoting the cognitive science of language through interdisciplinary research, student training, community outreach, and various professional roles. She currently serves on the Governing Board of the Cognitive Science Society and the U.S. National Committee for Psychological Science/International Union of Psychological Science at the National Academy of Sciences. She is a lifetime member of the Linguistic Society of America, the Association for Psychological Science, and the Society for Philosophy and Psychology. 

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Sami Yousif

MindCORE Post Doc

Sami received his PhD in Psychology from Yale University. His primary research interest is spatial cognition -- how we perceive, interact with, and represent the spatial world around us. But in his free time, he works on a broad range of topics across cognitive science, including how people evaluate social testimony, how people think about the purposes and mechanisms of things, whether people are 'intuitively theistic', how people represent events, how they represent agency in language, and more. Chances are that if you are interested in any aspect of cognitive science, you'll have some overlapping interest with Sami!

Martin Ho Kwan Ip

MindCORE PostDoc

 ILST Initiative

Martin received his PhD in Psychology at the MARCS Institute, Western Sydney University. He is interested in understanding how speech processing can be shaped by both language-universal mechanisms and our experience with our native language. At the Language and Cognition Lab, Martin's research examines different aspects of speech (e.g., foreign accents, prosody) and their social implications from both a cross-linguistic and a developmental perspective.

Sarah Lee

Post Doc

Sarah received her PhD in Linguistics from the University of Southern California. She uses various experimental methods to examine event representations in language and the mind. How are events represented in the mind? How do mental representations of events relate to linguistic representations of events? Currently, she is specifically interested in the internal temporal structure/complexity of events. She also has broader interests that revolve around meaning and its interfaces - specific topics include evidentiality, subjectivity, comparison classes, and more!

Tyler Knowlton

MindCORE Post Doc

Tyler earned his PhD in Linguistics from the University of Maryland and his BA in Cognitive Science from Johns Hopkins. His research focuses on the meanings of logical expressions like “every” and “most” and asks: What do their mental representations look like? How do the formal details of those representations affect non-linguistic cognitive systems? And what leads children to connect those particular representations with the relevant pronunciations?

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Andrea Beltrama

MindCORE Post Doc

Andrea earned his PhD in Linguistics from the University of Chicago and held postdoctoral positions at the University of Konstanz and at the Université of Paris 7. His work investigates how the semantic, pragmatic and social dimensions of meaning contribute to determining the content conveyed by linguistic utterances in communication. He pursues this goal through the lens of various linguistic phenomena, including intensification, descriptive (im)precision, subjectivity, discourse markers and alternative-based reasoning. 

Alessandra Pintado-Urbanc

Lab Manager

Alessandra Pintado-Urbanc is the current lab manager of the Language and Cognition Lab. She graduated with a B.A. in Linguistics from The University of Pennsylvania in December 2022. She is particularly interested in psycholinguistics and language acquisition. Born into a trilingual household, Alessandra has always enjoyed learning new languages and traveling!


Yiran Chen

5th Year


Yiran is a 5th year Ph.D. student in the Department of Linguistics. She is interested in language acquisition as well as language-cognition interface. Before joining UPenn, she earned her B.S. in Child Studies and Psychology at Vanderbilt University, where she also majored in French and minored in Piano performance. Outside of research, Yiran enjoys making music and food. 

Ugurcan Vurgun

4th Year


Following some time in the industry, Ugurcan received his Master's degree in Linguistics from Bogazici University in Turkey, where he studied the syntax of focus particles in Turkish. He is now a Ph.D. candidate in Linguistics at the University of Pennsylvania. He is interested in event cognition. Outside of research, he enjoys reading about astronomy and spending time with his kids. 

June Choe

3rd Year


June is interested in psycholinguistics and the mechanisms of ambiguity resolution in particular. He earned his B.A. in Linguistics at Northwestern University, where he researched syntactic and semantic reanalysis in garden-path sentences. Outside of linguistics, June is an R enthusiast and enjoys blogging about data visualization.

Karen Li

2nd Year


Karen’s interests lie mainly in the realm of semantics and pragmatics, and extend to the related fields of psycholinguistics and discourse analysis. She earned her B.A. in Linguistics, Math, and Cognitive Science from Rutgers University, where she explored the use of Mandarin sentence final particles as tools of discourse management. Drawing from her mathematical background, Karen also enjoys formal and computational methods of approaching linguistics. 


Tess Christensen


Linguistics, Computer Science

Tess is a first-year Master's in Education student at Penn's Graduate School of Education studying Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages (TESOL). She also attended Penn for undergrad, majoring in Linguistics and Cognitive Science. Tess is interested in the application of language acquisition research to foreign and second language education. In her spare time, she also enjoys running, rock climbing, and playing Dungeons & Dragons.

Cynthia Gu


Cognitive Science, Linguistics

Cynthia is pursuing a double major in cognitive science and linguistics and a minor in design. She is interested in the intersection of language and cognition — particularly, language acquisition and bilingualism. Outside of school, she enjoys crocheting and brewing coffee. 

Julia Ongchoco


Cognitive Science, Theater

Julia is a double major in Cognitive Science and Theater.  She is interested in the role of language in how we perceive and think about the world — and is especially interested in the cognitive science of sound and film.  Julia hails from the Philippines and used to be a competitive archer.

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