People

Professor Ferreira uses basic insights from formal linguistics, especially theories in sentence phonology and syntax, to develop models of processing. Her empirical work relies both on behavioral and neural measures, including eyetracking (for measurement of fixations, saccades and pupil diameter) and the recording of event-related potentials (ERPs). The fundamental aim of her research is to uncover the mechanisms that enable humans to understand and generate language in real time and in cooperation with other cognitive systems.

Fernanda Ferreira, Ph.D.

Principal Investigator
Pronouns: she/her

Email:  fferreira@ucdavis.edu

Phone: (530) 752-5497

Vita    •    Google Scholar


Current Lab Members    •   Collaborators    •   Alumni

I’m a third year graduate student working in Fernanda Ferreira’s lab. I received my B.A. in psychology and strategic communications from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. My current work investigates the way in which speakers produce multi-sentence utterances when describing complex visual scenes. I am also interested in how disfluencies influence comprehension.

Madison Barker

Graduate Student
Pronouns: she/her

Email: msbarker@ucdavis.edu


I’m a second year graduate student working with Dr. Fernanda Ferreira. Before coming to UC Davis, I earned my B.A. in Psychology from Cal Poly Pomona in 2020. Currently, my research interests are broadly in bilingual language processing, with a particular interest in syntactic processing and how individual differences in factors such as working memory and language experience might modulate overall comprehension.

Beverly Cotter

Graduate Student
Pronouns: she/her

Email: btcotter@ucdavis.edu


I am a second year graduate student working with Dr. Emily Morgan. Before coming to Davis, I earned my B.A. in Linguistics from the University of Oregon. My primary research interests lie in the intersection between error-driven learning and linguistic storage, that is, how we store linguistic representations and how this interacts with the way we learn language.

Zach Houghton

Graduate Student

Email: znhoughton@ucdavis.edu


I’m a first year graduate student studying linguistics. My primary research interests are understanding how language context modifies the linguistic choices made by speakers and listeners alike, especially with regards to relative processing costs across contexts.

Casey Felton

Graduate Student

Email: cdfelton@ucdavis.edu


Before working in Ferreira Lab, I graduated from the University of Richmond with a BA in Cognitive Science. My research interests include generative syntax and how the brain represents syntactic knowledge at the algorithmic level. When not working in the lab, I dabble in natural language processing and designing AIs for card games.

Adrian (Junye) Zhou

Junior Specialist

Email: adrzhou@ucdavis.edu


I am a first-generation undergraduate Psychology major working on a minor in Neuroscience. I am deeply curious about how our biology intertwines with what we do and how we do it. I also like to ride bikes.

Spenser James

Research Assistant
Email: spjames@ucdavis.edu

I am a third year student majoring in Cognitive Science with an emphasis in neuroscience. I’m passionate about discovering the mechanisms that allow humans to comprehend and produce language as well as hiking with friends and eating good food!

Jessie Deng

Research Assistant
Email: jwdeng@ucdavis.edu

I am a second-year Cognitive Science and Applied Statistics double major from the Bay Area. In an academic sense, I am extremely interested in how the understanding of human mechanisms can lead to the development of artificial intelligence for social good. In my free time, I enjoy playing a variety of sports, sharing a good meal with friends, and getting involved with community outreach initiatives.

Anirudh Murugesan

Research Assistant
Email: amurugesan@ucdavis.edu

I’m a new Research Assistant at the Ferreira Lab. I’m a second year undergraduate student double majoring in Psychology and Economics. My goal is to attend grad school for psychology and this lab will be a great start for my research career.

Ghezal Karimi

Research Assistant
Email: amurugesan@ucdavis.edu

Collaborators

Yujing is interested in how different components of language interact. Her research interest includes how meaning is expressed via syntactic structure (i.e., the syntax-semantics interface) and how sound interacts with syntax (i.e., the phonology-syntax interface). She is also interested in developing statistical models for data analysis.

Yujing Huang

Affiliated Researcher

Email: yujing.huang@bc.edu


I am a fourth year PhD student, working with John Henderson and Fernanda Ferreira. I have a masters degree in Mind, Brain, and Education from Harvard and I’m an alumna of Mount Holyoke College.

Zoe Yang

Graduate Student

Email: yangz@ucdavis.edu


I’m a PhD student in Linguistics working with Dr. Kenji Sagae. My research interests lie in language typology, language documentation and computational linguistics. I study what people would say and why they would say it with a data-driven approach.My non-research interests are music, food and simple methods.

Zoey Liu

Graduate Student

Email: yangz@ucdavis.edu


Alumni – Graduate Students

Hossein Karimi, Ph.D. 

I did my Bachelor’s degree on language teaching and testing in Iran. Then, I moved to Scotland to do my Master’s in Psychology of Language at the University of Edinburgh. I started working towards my PhD under Dr. Ferreira’s supervision in 2012 and I am now a post-doc at Penn State University. My research interest is discourse processing in general and pronoun processing in particular. How do we manage establish a meaningful link between subsequent reference to a previously-encountered entity in discourse? This is particularly interesting when reference is ambiguous and multiple entities could potentially be chosen as the referent. Under these conditions, psychological biases for information processing are revealed. I use behavioral techniques such as sentence completion, reaction time and eye-tracking (both in reading and in the visual world paradigm) as well as non-behavioral techniques such as ERPs (Event-Related Potentials) to investigate my questions.

 

Nene (Suphasiree) Chantavarin, Ph.D.

Nene was a graduate student in the Ferreira Lab (2016-2021) and is now a Lecturer in the Faculty of Psychology at Chulalongkorn University in Bangkok, Thailand. Nene has worked on different research topics, including the processing of formulaic language, the role of neural entrainment in speech comprehension, disfluencies and cognitive aging, and the role of event schemas in language comprehension.

 

Eleonora Judith Beier, Ph.D.

Nora was a graduate student in the Ferreira Lab. She completed her PhD in 2022 and is now a postdoctoral scholar working with Dr. George Mangun and Dr. Tamara Swaab at the UC Davis Center for Mind and Brain. As a graduate student, Nora worked on projects spanning the fields of psycholinguistics and music cognition. In particular, her dissertation investigated the ways people focus particular words during language comprehension and production using behavioral and eye-tracking methods. Her postdoctoral research, funded by an NIH F32 grant, explores the neural correlates of attention during speech comprehension, measured through alpha oscillations and cortical tracking of speech.

 

Harvey (Zhuang) Qiu, Ph.D.

Harvey was a graduate student in the Linguistics PhD and Psychology MA program, working with Professor Ferreira since 2017. He has a broad interest in cognitive psychology, and has been working on parsing theories, experimental semantics and pragmatics. He is now a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Linguistics at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.


Alumni – Post Docs

Matthew Lowder, Ph.D.

Dr. Matthew Lowder was a post-doc in Fernanda Ferreira’s Psycholinguistics lab and is now an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Richmond. Matt’s research focuses on the cognitive mechanisms that contribute to language comprehension, from lower-level processes of word recognition to higher-level processes of sentence interpretation.

 

Cassandra Jacobs, Ph.D.

Cassandra is a Postdoctoral Research Associate in the Language and Cognitive Neuroscience Lab at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. Her research applies techniques from natural language processing, learning, and memory to the study of language processing. She is especially interested in the role that linguistic experience plays in language production.

 

Gwendolyn Rehrig, Ph.D.

Dr. Gwendolyn Rehrig was a post-doc in Fernanda Ferreira’s Psycholinguistics lab, where she studied language processing and vision-language interactions. After working in the lab, she has pursued non-academic work applying her data analysis skills in government.


Alumni – Undergraduates

Agata Kelman

Emily Strand

Shreya Venkatesan

Yaren Altan

Anya Grosskopf

Lauren Alimento

Kevin Ly

Julian Rambob

Sai Siddhaye

Yongying (Ariel) Ye

Prajakta Nagwekar

Deeksha Shakya

Susannah Rudd

Isaias Ceballos III

Francisco Correia

Mihir Lele