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!


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




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.




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.




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. 




Umiemah Farrukh is a rising junior at UCLA, pursuing a bachelor's degree in Psychology. She has previous research experience and is particularly interested in how an individual's childhood experiences shape them and their mental health. She is very excited to be working at the DoSC Lab this summer. Upon completion of her BA and progessive master's, Umiemah will be applying to grad school to pursue a health-related career. In her free time Umiemah loves writing poetry, making art, and trying out new coffee shops in LA! 

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)
Allegra Midgette (Postdoctoral Collaborator 2019-2021; now: Assistant Professor and ACES Fellow at Texas A&M)

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; now: MA student in Counseling Psychology at Mount St. Mary University)
Jenny Li (2020)
Annie Dinh (2020)
Yunshi Luo (2020; now: MA student in Developmental Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania)
Abe Guevara (2020)
Ameera Azzam (2019 - 2021)

Katherine Brogan (2019 - 2021; now: Research Coordinator at UCSF)
Rui Zhang (2019 - 2021; now: MA student in I/O Psychology at New York University)
Sahrai Garcia (2019 - 2021)
Erin Conghuyen (2019 - 2021)
Ariel Tan (2021; now: Lab Manager in the UCI Working Memory & Plasticity Lab)
Daisy Mercado (2021; now: Research Staff at UCLA)