/title>People — BLAB :/head>


Staff, grad student, postdocs, and undergraduate members of the Bergelson lab stand smiling in a group in Duke Gardens. The image changes to a silly one when the mouse rolls over it.
BLAB end of year celebration, Spring 2022

Dr. Bergelson stands in front of a white wall smiling and wearing a black shirt
Photo credit:
Zachary T. Kern
Dr. Elika Bergelson
Principal Investigator
Dr. Bergelson is an Assistant Professor in Duke's Department of Psychology and Neuroscience (personal page). Dr. Bergelson received her PhD from the University of Pennsylvania, where she first became interested in infant word-learning, after receiving research training at the University of Maryland as a Baggett Fellow, and a B.A. at NYU in Language and Mind. Her training is in psychology, linguistics, and cognitive science. Before coming to Duke, she was a Research Professor in the University of Rochester's Brain and CogSci Department. Dr. Bergelson's work has been funded by the NSF and NIH; she is the recipient of an NIH Early Independence Award and an NSF CAREER Award. Dr. Bergelson thinks figuring out how babies learn language is just about the coolest question out there.
Dr.Bergelson, pictured as a two year old, claps in front of a birthday cake
Photo credit:
Vitaly Bergelson
Dr. Meylan smiles up at the camera in bright sunshine wearing a navy sweater
Dr. Stephan Meylan
Postdoctoral Researcher
Stephan splits his time between the Bergelson Lab and the Computational Psycholinguistics Lab at MIT working on computational models of language acquisition and language processing (personal page). He recently completed a PhD in the Computational Cognitive Science Lab at UC Berkeley, focusing on how to represent adults’ and children’s abstract knowledge of language with probabilistic graphical models.
Dr. Meylan as a baby, sitting in a high chair looking bemused
Dr. Hartman wears a bright blue shirt and smiles in front of a brick building.
Dr. Jasenia Hartman
Postdoctoral Researcher
Jasenia finished her PhdD in Neuroscience from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. She is interested in how infants use social and linguistic cues available on the face to support their learning. Jasenia is an aspiring plant mom and DIY-enthusiast.
Dr. Hartman as toddler standing and grinning in front of a plaid chair in a blue polka-dotted dress
Dr. Davis looks forward in a professional headshot, wearing a denim shirt.
Dr. Charles Davis
Postdoctoral Researcher
Charles received his PhD in Psychological Science from the University of Connecticut in 2021. He is interested in how sensory-perceptual experiences and language experience contribute to semantic knowledge, or, what kids know about word meanings (personal page). Charles aspires to be an amateur pizza-maker and baker, and enjoys hiking and spending time in the mountains.
Dr. Davis toddles in profile with his tongue out in deep concentration. He wears denim overalls over a striped shirt.
Erin smiles brightly in front of a background of trees, wearing a bright green shirt
Erin Campbell
5th year Graduate Student
Erin graduated from Towson University in 2018 with a B.A. in speech language pathology, deaf studies, and disability studies. She is currently completing a Ph.D. at Duke in Cognition and Cognitive Neuroscience. Erin wants to better understand language processing and acquisition for children with sensory impairments. In her free time, she enjoys rock climbing, yoga, smiling (recreationally), and embroidering pictures of bugs.
Erin as a baby lounging in a professional portrait, wearing a pink checkered jumper
Genia faces the camera wearing a dark sweater and glasses.
Genia Lukin
1st year Graduate Student
Genia studied psycholinguistics at Tel Aviv University and theoretical Linguistics a Boston University. She is interested in how sensory impairments impact language-learning, and how babies compensate for them. In her spare time, she tries to read all the books, sings classical choir, and has very strong opinions about Mediterranean cuisine.
A sepia-toned portrait of Genia as a young child. She sits on a wooden box wearing a gingham dress.
Kristen stands in front of a stone wall wearing a blue blazer
Kristen Gilyard
Rotating CNAP Graduate Student
Kristen is currently completing a Ph.D. at Duke. She is a rotating student as a part of the Cognitive Neuroscience Admitting Program. Kristen recently graduated from Harvard University with an A.B. in Neuroscience and Mathematics. Kristen wants to acquire more knowledge about how infants learn specifically how infants create semantic representations. Kristen also enjoys reading, knitting, and bird-watching.
Baby Kristen looks at the camera while drinking from a bottle
Hallie stands in front of a brick wall, wearing round glasses, a black shirt and a maroon sweater
Hallie Garrison
Research Associate
Hallie graduated from Bryn Mawr College in 2013 with a B.A. in Sociology. She moved to Boston to work in childcare for three years, where she developed an interest in infant language acquisition. She also worked for Child Trends as a Research Analyst in the Early Childhood Development policy area. Hallie likes books and babies.
Baby Hallie winking and flashing a big cheesy grin with her first baby teeth
Lilli sits in a white adirondack chair and smiles while holding a duck on her lap
Lillianna Righter
Lab Manager
Lilli graduated from the University of Maryland, College Park with a B.A. in Linguistics in 2020. There, she worked on research looking at infants’ acquisition of long-distance syntactic dependencies and wrote a thesis about early verb learning. She is thrilled to join BLAB and learn more about language development. Lilli loves her ducks, playing D&D, and theater.
Baby Lilli sticks both fingers up her nose while her staticky hair sticks to a balloon
Zhenya looks to the side while standing in front of a whiteboard and wearing a blue and white striped shirt
Zhenya Kalenkovich
Lab Technician
Zhenya graduated from HSE University, Moscow in 2017 with an MSc. in Cognitive Science. After graduating, he was involved in research into phoneme perception, negative sentence processing, and neural correlates of syntactic processing. He joined the lab in November, 2021. He is interested in the Language Development as a major window into cognition in general. At the lab, he performs a variety of programming/technical duties involved in managing and analyzing the corpus and experimental data as well as providing technical support for the researchers in the lab. In his free time, he enjoys bouldering, short hikes, and trying new things.
Baby Zhenya pictured in black and white, looking surprised, sitting on a booster chair and holding a picture book with tigers
George laughs and looks to the side while wearing a graduation gown with many stoles and cords
George Romero
Research Assistant
George is a junior at Duke studying biology and linguistics. He is interested in early language acquisition and how childhood environments may influence bilingualism and multilingualism later in life. Largely, he has a strong interest in STEM communication, and how linguistics concepts and bilingualism can be applied in the medical space to promote compassionate, effective healthcare. After undergrad, he plans to attend medical school and become a surgeon. Outside of school, George has fun being involved with acapella and anything singing or music related.
Baby George grins while wearing a backwards baseball cap, a bead necklace, and holding a toy guitar
Samantha smiles and wears a white t-shirt while taking a selfie in a sunny room
Samantha Chaney
Research Assistant
Samantha is a junior at Duke double-majoring in Neuroscience and Linguistics with a minor in Psychology. She is specifically interested in how music and language impact someone’s perception of their surroundings. Having grown up speaking multiple languages and playing various instruments, she would love to know how that has impacted her cognitive development and helped her navigate the world. Most of her free time is spent drawing and playing Minecraft. The rest is spent napping with her cats and listening to music.
Samantha and her twin hold hands and grin up the the camera. Sam is wearing a white and pink dress
Bella smiles softly and leans her cheek on her hand, wearing a pink shirt
Isabella Liu
Research Assistant
Bella is a junior at Duke University studying psychology with a minor in Latin and chemistry. She is particularly interested in seeing how bi/multilingualism and different cultural backgrounds can impact the development of language learning in children, as well as how adults translate baby language. On campus, she is a member of the Digital Health Communities Bass Connections team, Duke American Medical Women’s Association, and the Women’s Club Lacrosse team. You can find her going on runs or exploring the Durham food scene off campus.
Baby Bella sits in a red beanbag chair, wearing a pink onesie and looking up from a large toy block
Daisja smiles in front of a beach scene. She has sunglasses on her head and wears a soft sweater.
Daisja Honorable
Research Assistant
Daisja is a junior at Duke majoring in Neuroscience with minors in Chemistry and Spanish. She is interested in brain development and language acquisition, especially since she wants to work with children in the future and has been learning Spanish since 2nd grade. Outside of class, she enjoys playing guitar, FaceTiming her dogs, being a mentor, and helping welcome first-year students to Duke through orientation!
Baby Daisja grins while wearing a white onesie and sunglasses.
Mary Kate wears a blue shirt and white sweater. She is smiling in front of a blue and yellow sunset.
Mary Kate Merenich
Research Assistant
Mary Kate is a sophomore at Duke who plans to major in Neuroscience with a possible double major/minor in psych and certificate in child policy. Her interest in the BLAB and the infant brain stems from her own experience losing sight at 2 1/2 years old. Ever since, she's maintained an interest in what occurs in the minds of our young population. The community outreach team she belongs to as part of Neurocare travels to one of Durham’s local elementary school to teach basic neuroscience concepts. Outside of school, she is both a music fan and player; this year will be her second year playing flute for Duke’s Wind Symphony. She also likes to run, read, and hang out with friends.
Baby Mary Kate has white food on her face and hand. She looks at the camera with a satisfied expression.
Serena stands in front of a large tree and smiles. She is wearing a lavender dress and it is a sunny day.
Serena Raj
Research Assistant
Serena Raj is a sophomore at Duke who is majoring in Psychology with a double minor in Biolgy and Chemistry on the pre-med track. She is interested in language acquisition in infants and more specifically how a child's environment can impact their neural development and linguistic abilities! After Duke, she aspires to attend medical school to be a pediatrician in the future. Apart from academics, Serena loves to dance and has been a dancer since she was young! She is currently the assistant captain of a dance team at duke named Duke Dhamaka and spends her free time dancing and hanging out with her friends!
Baby Serena flashes a toothless grin. She wears a white collared shirt embroidered with cherries and a pink bucket hat.
Anika looks up from the railroad wear she is sitting and grins. She has curly brown hair and wears a red leather jacket.
Anika Pawlak
Research Assistant
Anika is a junior at Duke studying a Program II major called Reimagining the Aging, Dying, and End-of-Life Care Experience. While she studies situations that primarily affect the elderly, Anika has always had a passion for working with children and understanding more about how the surrounding environment shapes the way children learn - language and otherwise! On campus, Anika is involved with Duke Helping Hands for Alzheimer’s and Other Neurological Disorders, Duke Student Alumni Board, and the Language, Music & Dementia Bass Connections team. Outside of school and extracurriculars, Anika is an avid rock music fan and can often be found at a concert!
Young Anika grins for a school portrait, with the date 2007-2008 printed in the bottom left. She wears a pink jumper and has a missing front tooth.

Lab Alumni (Where they are now)

  • Malini Narula '23, research assistant, 2022
  • Damla Ozdemir '24, research assistant, 2022
  • Maya Yelle '24, research assistant, 2022
  • Dr. Federica Bulgarelli, Postdoctoral Researcher, 2018-2022 (Assistant Professor of Psychology and Learning and Instruction, University at Buffalo)
  • Jessica Steil, visiting scholar, 2022 (PhD candidate at the University of Tübingen)
  • Dr. Shannon Dailey '22, PhD student, 2017-2022 (Post-doctoral Associate at Sanford School of Public Policy, Duke University)
  • Jingxuan Liu '22, research assistant, 2019-2022 (PhD student, Columbia Business School)
  • Olivia Leggio '22, research assistant, 2019-2022 (Programmer, Neurology Department at UNC)
  • Jasmine Pflepsen '22, research assistant, 2020-2022 (Learning Support research assistant, American Institute for Research)
  • Taylor Horowitz '22, research assistant, 2020-2022 (Clinical Research Coordinator, Cohen Children's Hospital)
  • Sophie Barry '22, research assistant, 2021-2022 (Digital marketing, Michael Kors)
  • Kyra Lewis '23, research assistant, 2020-2022
  • Janani Ramadurai '21, research assistant, 2019-2021 (Linguistics Master's student at UNC)
  • Madi Yancy '22, research assistant, 2019-2022 (English teaching assistant in Spain)
  • Natalie Chou '23, research assistant, 2021-2022
  • Mihika Rajvanshi '23, research assistant, 2020-2022
  • Janis Zhu '24, research assistant, 2021
  • Dr. Charlotte Moore '21, PhD student, 2016-2021 (Post-doctoral researcher with Dr. Krista Byers-Heinlein at Concordia University)
  • Dr. Carla Fernandez, Postdoctoral Researcher, 2019-2021
  • Crismely Fermin, Visiting summer ICIS intern, 2021
  • Isha Mahadeshwar, High school summer intern, 2021
  • Lauren Mitchell '22, research assistant, 2019-2020
  • Justin Kim '22, research assistant, 2021
  • Sebastian Sanchez '22, research assistant, 2021
  • Sarp Uner, Lab Technician, 2019-2021 (Data Science Master's student at Vanderbilt)
  • Halden Levin, high school research assistant, 2020
  • Junette Yu '20, research assistant, 2020
  • Aahnix Bathurst, Project Manager, 2019-2020
  • Irene Tang, Lab Manager, 2019-2020 (PhD Student at University of Chicago in Linguistics)
  • Sarah Yang '20, research assistant, 2018-2020 (Senior Clinical Research Specialist, Duke Center for Autism and Brain Development)
  • Jessica Marlow '20, research assistant, 2019-2020 (Master's of Science student in Global Health at National Taiwan University)
  • Sophie Hurewitz '22, research assistant, 2019-2020
  • Georgia Price '22, research assistant, 2019
  • Gladys Baudet, lab technician, 2018-2019 (AI Engineer at AnotherBrain)
  • Estelle He '20, programming research assistant, 2016-2019
  • Webster Bei '20, programming research assistant, 2016-2019
  • Meghan Beck, co-op visiting research assistant, 2019 (research assistant Co-op at Institute of Biophysics and Biomedical Engineering)
  • Danielle Mayorga-Young '19, research assistant, 2017-2019 (Clinical Research Specialist at Duke)
  • Chandler Richards '19, research assistant, 2017-2019 (IRTA Research Assistant at NIMH-SFIM)
  • Katya Khlystova '19, research assistant, 2017-2019 (Ph.D. candidate at UCLA)
  • Emma Zhang, NCSSM high school research assistant, 2018 (Undergraduate at UNC)
  • Natasha Derezinski-Choo '18, research assistant, 2016-2018 (Fullbright recipient, "Many Medicines and Many Languages: The Sociolinguistic Underpinnings of Medical Pluralism.")
  • Micaela Brewington, research assistant, 2016-2018 (Public Health Analyst at RTI International)
  • Naseem Dillman-Hasso, summer research intern, 2018 (Lab Manager of the Perception Lab at Carleton College)
  • Natasha Vernooij, summer research intern, 2018 (Ph.D. candidate at the University of Michigan; Studying multilingual cognition)
  • Ellie Breitfeld, summer research intern, 2018 (Psychology Ph.D. candidate at University of Wisconsin-Madison’s)
  • Savanna Groft, research assistant, 2016-2018 (Clinical Medical Interpreter at Duke)
  • Erich Hess, high school research assistant, 2018 (Undergraduate at UNC)
  • Andrei Amatuni, lab technician, 2015-2018 (Ph.D. candiate at Indiana University in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences)
  • Afua Ansah, research assistant, 2016-2018 (Ohio-Illinois District Youth Assistant Secretary, Presbyterian Church of Ghana)
  • Angela Tawfik, research assistant, 2017-2018 (Senior Research Fellow at Duke University)
  • Reena Jasani, research assistant, 2016-2017 (Medical Student at The University of Texas Southwestern Medical School)
  • Alexis Aberman, high school research assistant, 2017 (Undergraduate at Cornell University)
  • Maia Donald, high school research assistant, 2017 (Undergraduate at Barnard College)
  • Kelsey Shelofsky, research assistant, 2017 (Clinical Research Coordinator at Massachusetts General Hospital, Dept. of Neurology)
  • Claire Patrick, high school research assistant, 2017
  • Dr. Catherine Laing, postdoctoral researcher, 2016-2017 (Lecturer in the Centre for Language and Communication Research at Cardiff University, Wales)
  • Emmaline Drew, graduate practicum student, 2017 (Doctoral student in cognitive psychology at Duke University)
  • Hannah Ballock, research assistant and independent study student, 2016-2017
  • Ryan Bloom, programming research assistant, 2017 (Associate Consultant / Software Engineer at Levvel.io)
  • Nick Groszewski, programming research assistant, 2017 (Senior Associate Data Engineer at Capital One)
  • Liwen Zhang, programming research assistant, 2016-2017 (Data Scientist at GM Financial)
  • Cristopher Alvarado, high school research assistant, 2016 (Undergraduate at Swarthmore College)

If you are interested in joining our lab, see here!