Lab Director/Principal Investigator

Dr. Chernyak is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Cognitive Sciences at UC - Irvine and the director of the lab. She received her BA and PhD from Cornell University, and completed additional postdoctoral training at various universities in the Boston area, including Brown University, Harvard University, Boston University, and Boston College. Her work investigates the early roots of our social behavior. She is particularly interested in how we can use developmental data to better understand the cognitive building blocks of our understanding of equity, justice, fairness, equality, and social group cognition. Sponsored by the National Science Foundation's CAREER Award, her most recent work has focused on the cognitive and social predictors of our understanding of inequality.


Lab Manager


Originally from San Diego, Lucy completed a B.A. in Psychology at Boston University. At BU, Lucy broadly studied psychology, working at both clinical and developmental labs. She focused the majority of her research in social and developmental psychology, completing an honors thesis on the development of fairness judgements in children. She intends to go on to graduate school to study developmental and social psychology. When not in the lab, Lucy enjoys hiking, swimming, writing poetry, and listening to podcasts!


Postdoctoral Researcher/Affiliate


Allegra J. Midgette, Ph.D. is a postdoctoral fellow at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.  She received her Ph.D. in Human Development in Education from the UC Berkeley and her B.A. in Education from Brown University, graduating with honors, magna cum laude, and Phi Beta Kappa. Dr. Midgette’s research investigates the origins and social processes that support individuals in developing an understanding of justice and learning how to care for others in an inequitable and unjust world. Her work addresses two key questions: How do we come to care about each other and about justice within the family? How do we become just in the face of inequality? 
To investigate these questions, Dr. Midgette employs a mixed-methodology approach that places the experiential reality of children and their families at the forefront. The long-term goal of her work is to characterize how cultural, societal, and family practices influence individual moral development, with the ultimate aim of supporting the creation of interventions that contribute to individuals’ development into more caring and just individuals. 


(Incoming) Graduate Student


Cassidy is a first year Cognitive Science PhD student working with Dr. Nadia Chernyak. Cassidy completed her M.A. in Developmental Psychology at Cornell University in 2021. She also completed her B.A. in Psychology at Cornell University in 2019.


Cassidy is interested in researching children’s moral cognition and the relationship between wealth and possibility. Cassidy is particularly interested in how cultural markers impact how children process and form decisions, specifically using an intersectional framework to pit cultural markers against each other. In her free time she enjoys playing with her nieces and nephews, drinking coffee, spending time with her cat, and playing Animal Crossing.



Project Coordinator

Danyang Ma recently graduated with a Bachelor in Psychology at UCIrvine. Her research interests are exploring children’s cognitive development and the neurobiology mechanism underlying it. She enjoys working with children and looks forward to pursing a master and PhD in developmental psychology.


Project Coordinator


Jose Ramirez recently completed his B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. He is eager to gain experience and learn more about the cognitive development of children. Besides cognitive development, he is also interested in abnormal psychology and the treatment of mental disorders. In the future, he hopes to go on to graduate school after gaining experience in the field of developmental psychology.


Lab Programmer


Ervie Tubig is a current fourth-year pursuing his Bachelors of Science in Computer Science at the University of California, Irvine. He is passionate in creating purposeful game experiences. At UCI, Ervie has worked in labs, developing VR experiences designed to inspire children to pursue STEM. He also worked with the university's Video Game Development Club, leading quarterly game projects designed to teach students game development. He enjoys interacting with children and hopes to spread and foster the same passion for technology, academia, and games! He finds it very exciting working with the lab to create novel behavioral study games/tools that are both engaging and efficient in advancing research within social cognition. In his free time, Ervie enjoys playing his bass, roller skating, struggling with 3D modeling/animation, and gaming with friends!

Research Assistants


RA, Thesis Student


Rui Zhang is a current fourth-year psychology major student at UCI who joined the lab in winter 2019. She is eager to obtain first-hand experience in the research process and looks forward to exploring cognitive development of children. She plans to pursue a PhD in Psychology after graduating. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, reading, and watching documentary films. 


RA, Thesis Student


Sahrai Garcia is currently a senior at UCI pursing her bachelors in Psychology. She is in interested in Social behavior and Behavioral Cognition and hopes to pursue a doctorate in her later years.  She is excited to learn about Early Social Behavior and Development and how it shapes people’s view of the world, the people around them, and themselves. 


RA, Thesis Student


Katherine Brogan is a fourth year pursuing her Bachelors of Science in Cognitive Sciences at UC Irvine. She has previously worked with children as a preschool volunteer and as a math tutor. She is excited to expand her knowledge in the cognitive sciences and work with children in a scientific setting.



Ariel Tan (moderator).jpg
Baby Ariel.jpg

Ariel received her B.S. in Psychology with Distinctions from UC San Diego and M.A. in Higher Education and Student Affairs from New York University. Her honors thesis investigated the effect of hypersexualization of video game characters on female player's self-regards. Her independent study at grad school focused on the relationship between biculturalism and college adjustment for Chinese bicultural students. Ariel's current research interest revolves around the cognitive and social impact of biculturalism: 1) Is there a critical age for cultural integrations? and 2) How does biculturalism influence people’s attitudes, biases, and behaviors? Before joining DoSC Lab, Ariel worked at different universities as a residential life educator; looking ahead, she hopes to pursue a Ph.D. in social or cognitive psychology. 




Kevin Francisco Ramirez transferred to UCI earlier this year, with his associate's degree in anthropology. He is majoring in psychology and anthropology, and he's very excited to gain research experience working with children. He is particularly interested in how children develop their understanding of the social world around them, as well as the neural underpinnings of this development. He plans on pursuing his PhD in developmental psychology.




Rakat Rahman is a third-year currently studying to get a bachelor's degree in Psychology as well as Business Economics. He is interested in cognitive psychology, the brain as a whole, and how we make decisions. In the future, he hopes to pursue a graduate school degree and eventually a career that will allow him to utilize both business economics and cognitive psychology.




Erin is a fourth year undergraduate research assistant pursuing a Bachelors of Science in Psychology at UC Irvine. Erin found her interest working and tutoring kids of all ages. She then began tutoring college level students back home in the Bay Area. She plans to go to graduate school and obtain her PhD in Clinical Psychology or Cognitive Neuroscience 




Shakira is a second-year pursuing a BS in Psychology. She is especially interested in studying cognitive and developmental psychology. Shakira plans to continue her education by earning a PhD in psychology and is excited to be a part of the DoSC team and gain experience in a lab setting. In her free time, she enjoys reading and writing.




Daisy is a fourth-year Cognitive Sciences major. Her research interests include child development, cognitive psychology, and neuroscience. She is excited to learn about the underlying cognitive mechanisms that enable prosocial behaviors, future-oriented thinking, and moral consideration. In the future, Daisy plans to attend graduate school and pursue a career in pediatric nursing.




Catherine Kagoo is a third-year Cognitive Science major, with a minor in Innovation and Entrepreneurship. She is very interested in developmental psychology, as well as human cognition and decision making. She also loves working with children. In the future, Catherine plans to pursue a career in business that allows her to utilize her skills in cognitive science as well as in business. 




Taylor Ashqar is a third-year student at UCI pursuing her Bachelors of Science in Cognitive Sciences. She is very interested in AI and developmental cognition and hopes to transition into grad school to further her knowledge of both. In the future, she hopes to teach and continue research in the field. In her free time, she likes reading, writing, and spending time with friends. 

Lab Mascot


Lab Cat

Hi, my name is Ivy Elizabeth Wolfe, but you can call me Ivy Cat. I love to eat, play, run and jump! I really really love boxes and paper bags-they are the best! Also my life motto is “closed doors are really only opportunities to find ways to make them open doors, aka by scratching and meowing.

Lab Alumni

Former Research Staff

Sifana Sohail (Lab Manager 2018 - 2020; now: PhD student in Psychology at Yale University)

Former Research Assistants

Stephen Sanders (2019)

Sarvenaz Tate (2019)

Ane Avetisyan (2019-2020)
Nina Hoang (2019-2020)
Alek Marantz (2019-2020)
Samia Miss (2019-2020)
Naomi DeLuna (2020)

Michelle Ortiz (2019-2020)

Jenny Li (2020)

Annie Dinh (2020)

Yunshi Luo (2020)

Abe Guevara (2020)
Ameera Azzam (2019 - 2021)