People

Principal Investigator

Gigi Luk

Gigi Luk

Associate Professor Harvard Graduate School of Education

Gigi Luk's research on the cognitive and neural consequences of bilingualism extends across the lifespan.  In addition to investigating the science of bilingualism, Luk has examined how to harness scientific findings on bilingualism to improve educational experience for children from diverse language backgrounds. In particular, she has established a research program investigating: (1) effective ways to measure bilingualism in schools; (2) how bilingualism and executive functions interact to influence language and literacy outcomes; and (3) relationship between academic outcomes, quality and quantity of bilingual experience.

Dr. Luk obtained her Ph. D. in Cognitive Psychology from York University in Toronto, Canada.  She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Rotman Research Institute at the Baycrest Center in Toronto.  She joined the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2011.

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Fellows, Current Students and Research Assistants

April Boin Choi

April Boin Choi

Doctoral Student in Human Development

April is a doctoral student at HGSE, under the mentorship of Drs. Gigi Luk and Charles Nelson. She is interested in investigating neural and behavioral development in infants at risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and early interventions that can promote positive, long-term outcomes in children with ASD. 

Sibylla  Leon Guerrero

Sibylla Leon Guerrero

Doctoral Student in Human Development, Learning & Teaching

Sibylla is a doctoral student and research coordinator at the B.E.E. Lab.  She investigates the interaction of language and reading difficulties with a special interest in dialect variation and 2nd language populations.

Laura Mesite

Laura Mesite

Doctoral Student in Human Development and Education

Laura Mesite is a fourth year doctoral student in the Human Development and Education concentration. She is primarily interested in how children in the U.S. develop language and literacy skills and, more specifically, how sociocultural and psycholinguistic factors affect children’s reading interest and achievement. She studies this from a variety of perspectives including developmental psychology, cognitive neuroscience, and education, using behavioral, neuroimaging, and qualitative methods. Read more about Laura Mesite

So Yeon

So Yeon Shin

Doctoral Student in Human Development, Learning and Teaching

So Yeon Shin is a doctoral student in the Human Development, Learning and Teaching department at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She earned a B.A. in psychology and educational studies from Swarthmore College in 2015. So Yeon is interested in the sociocultural factors that influence children's language development. She is particularly interested in the experiences of emergent bilingual children from immigrant families. 

Sarah Surrain

Sarah Surrain

Doctoral Student in Human Development, Learning and Teaching

Sarah is a doctoral student in Human Development, Learning and Teaching. She is interested in the early language and literacy development of children from diverse linguistics backgrounds, especially during the transition to formal schooling in early childhood. Other interests include social perceptions of bilingualism and parenting and teaching practices that support bilingual development.

Veronica  Whitford

Dr. Veronica Whitford

Postdoctoral Fellow

Dr. Whitford obtained her Ph.D. in Cognitive-Experimental Psychology from McGill University (Montreal, Canada).  She then completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Psychology and Brain and Mind Institute at the University of Western Ontario (London, Canada). She is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education (under the supervision of Dr. Gigi Luk) and Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and McGovern Institute for Brain Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (under the supervision of Dr. John Gabrieli).  Read more about Veronica Whitford

Alumni

Courtney  Pollack

Courtney Pollack

Postdoctoral Fellow at Vanderbilt University

Courtney Pollack received her Ed.D in Human Development and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her primary research interests concern mental and neural representations of quantity as they relate to mathematical variables. Her other interests include mathematics difficulties, college-level math remediation, and Mind, Brain, and Education.

Emilia Motroni

Emilia Motroni

Masters Student in Communication Sciences and Disorders

Emilia is a a masters student at the MGH Institute of Health Professions studying Communication Sciences and Disorders. Her primary focus is communication disorders in early-middle childhood. She is particularly interested in the impact of diverse language backgrounds on cognitive and linguistic development.  

Jordan  Freeman

Jordan Freeman

Research Assistant at the University of Chicago

Jordan Freeman received her EdM in Mind, Brain, and Education at HGSE.  Her research interests include the development of executive functions in early childhood and the way EFs are addressed in schools through curricula and assessment.  Jordan is a former elementary classroom teacher and hopes to collaborate with schools and teachers on research initiatives.  In her free time, she loves to cook, write, and explore local markets and parks

Daniel Busso

Daniel Busso

Researcher at FrameWorks Institute

Daniel received his EdD in Human Development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His research interests include the impact of early adversity (maltreatment, trauma and poverty) on developmental, educational and mental health outcomes in children. He is interested in using the tools of neurobiology and cognitive science to better address questions of educational practice and policy. 

Christiana Butera

Christiana Butera

Doctoral Student in Occupational Science at USC

Christiana is a graduate of the Mind, Brain and Education Masters program at HGSE. She worked in the B.E.E. lab as a research assistant, and now attends the Occupational Science PhD program at USC in the Brain Creativity Institute. She is interested in embodied cognition, and the effects of movement and exercise on social and emotional cognition.