Social Interaction Lab

at UW-Madison


Members of the Social Interaction Lab.

  • Principle Investigator

    Robert Hawkins

    Robert is interested in the cognitive mechanisms that allow people to flexibly communicate, collaborate, and coordinate with one another in social interactions. He received his PhD from Stanford University in 2019 and was a C.V. Starr Fellow at the Princeton Neuroscience Institute prior to starting at UW-Madison in 2023.

  • Post-Doctoral Scholar

    Claire Augusta Bergey

    Claire is a postdoctoral researcher in the lab. She researches how the constraints of communication shape the way people learn and use language. Some recent projects have focused on how children expand their repertoires of conversational moves, and how we use language to selectively remark on atypical things in the world. Her work uses naturalistic corpus studies, lab experiments, and computational modeling to characterize the development of communicative competence.

  • Lab Manager

    Yuliya Zubak

    Yuliya is interested in the dynamics of social groups. Her background is in Neuroscience from the University of Toronto, Scarborough. Having previously worked in genetics and molecular biology, she is excited to expand into cognitive science and hopes to pursue a PhD.

  • Graduate Student

    Jess Mankewitz

    Jess is interested in the way humans learn to communicate and interact with one another. They approach these questions using computational models, developmental experiments, and publicly available datasets. They are also affiliated with the Infant Learning Lab. They graduated from UC Berkeley in 2020 with a B.A. in Cognitive Science and were the the Lab Manager for the Language and Cognition Lab at Stanford University prior to starting graduate school.

  • Research Assistant

    Abby Simon

    Abby is a junior at UW-Madison studying Biology and Psychology. She is interested in how children learn language and is also affiliated with the Infant Learning Lab. She plans to attend medical school and would like to work in pediatrics after graduating.

  • Research Assistant

    Misha O’Keeffe

    Misha O’Keeffe is a senior majoring in Economics and Psychology with a Leadership certificate. They also work as a research assistant at the Bonawitz CoCoDev lab and are passionate about children’s rich socio-cognitive development, aspiring to pursue a Ph.D. in the field.

  • Research Assistant

    Pranav Dronavalli

    Pranav is a junior at UW-Madison majoring in Computer Science and Math. He is interested in the Architecture behind AI models as well as methods or techniques that can be employed to allow generative content to better resemble human traits. In his freetime, Pranav likes to build esoteric software, play chess, video games, and build legos.

  • Lab Affilate

    Kushin Mukherjee

    I am a fifth year Psychology PhD student. My primary interest is in the nature of visual concepts. How are they learned? How are they structured? Can machines be taught these concepts? I believe the act of communication can shed much light on the answers to these questions, and so I study how we use drawings and information visualizations to convey our knowledge of the world to each other.

  • Lab Affilate

    Siddharth Suresh

    Siddharth’s research interests are centered around the differences and similarities in natural and artificial intelligence systems. He seeks to understand and bridge the gaps between learned representations in humans and AI models, with a goal of developing AI models that align more closely with human semantic cognition.

  • Lab Affilate

    Wasita Mahaphanit

    Wasita earned a BS in Cognitive Neuroscience from Brown University. Currently a Ph.D. student at Dartmouth with Luke Chang, she collaborates with Robert Hawkins and Jonathan Phillips. Her research focuses on how people collaboratively make sense of others and their shared experiences. She employs real-time multi-user web experiments, natural language processing, and computational modeling. Outside of research, Wasita enjoys playing video games (currently: Baldur’s Gate 3) and practicing aerial hoop/pole.

  • Lab Affilate

    Clementine Zimnicki

    Clementine works in the Visual Reasoning Lab, where she is interested in how people interpret data visualizations, with the goal of understanding how to make visualizations more accessible to broader audiences. Ultimately, this work can be used to make visualization tools, increasing public scientific literacy. Before graduate school, she completed her BS in Psychology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

  • Lab Affilate

    Jinyi Kuang

    Jinyi a Ph.D. student in Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania. She is interested in the the cognitive mechanisms underlying social norm perceptions and inferences. Her recent research focuses on how individual mental model can explain population-level descriptive to injunctive norm shift and how people effectively communicate social norms using online experiments and computational modeling.

  • Lab Affilate


    Sean is a M.S. Computer Science and Ph.D. Cognitive Science student at UW-Madison. His research focuses on using machine learning to improve human-machine interactions. Prior to graduate school, he completed his undergraduate studies at National Taiwan University.