Language Project Staff


Language Project Director

Dr. Eliana Colunga

Website E-mail

Lab Coordinator

Mercedes Zirbes

Mercedes graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in December 2014 with a BA in Neuroscience. She joined the DACS lab in Summer 2013 as an undergrad and was Lab Coordinator starting in June 2013. She thoroughly enjoys her time at the CU Language Project, especially getting to know all the families.


Undergraduate Research Assistants

McKenna Rogers

McKenna is an undergraduate student at the University of Colorado Boulder working to get her degree in Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences and a certificate in Cognitive Science. She became a part of the lab in January of 2017. McKenna wishes to learn more about language development and her ultimate goal is to work with children as a speech pathologist.

Fall 2015 Lab Photo

click here & open in new tab

photo taken & edited by Jessica Williams

starting from left:

front row: Jessica Williams (URA & photographer), Mercedes Zirbes (Lab Coordinator), Haley McTee (URA)

middle row: Dara Chase (URA in Halloween makeup), Jaspreet Shahi (URA), Lexi Tonascia (URA), Heather Hall (URA)

back row: Melissa Skowronski (URA), Mary Roszel (URA), Hayley Brown (URA), Sam Rhoton (URA)

silly version (open in new tab)


Lauren Becker

Lauren began working at the DACS Lab in Summer 2011. She graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in Spring 2013 with a major in Psychology, a minor in Business, and a certificate in Cognitive Science. She began graduate studies at the University of North Carolina in the Fall of 2014 for Sport and Exercise Psychology and graduated in May 2016.


Nicole Beckage

Nicole is a graduate student in the Computer Science program and is doing a joint Ph.D. in Cognitive Science. Her research takes a joint experimental and computational approach to study the mechanisms and process of learning, focusing on language acquisition and learning in children. Specifically, she uses a combination of machine learning algorithms and network analysis techniques to explore cognitive and developmental hypotheses of acquisition. Computational and quantitative methods provide powerful techniques to evaluate and develop theories that are challenging to test experimentally.

Website E-mail

Dr. Clare Sims

Clare graduated from the Cognitive Psychology program with a joint Ph.D. in Cognitive Science. She is interested in categorization in young children and adults, and specifically the roles of various factors such as language, type of information, and task in the development of categorization.

Website E-mail

Savannah Schilling

Savannah received her bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering at the University of Colorado Boulder and in May 2014. She worked in the DACS Lab since Fall 2010 as a Research Assistant. Savannah hopes to one day work in the field of Neuroscience.

Becca Frausel

Becca graduated from the University of Colorado at Boulder in May 2011 with a double-major in Psychology and English, a minor in Linguistics, and a Cognitive Science certificate. She worked at the DACS Lab since August 2009, first as an Undergraduate Research Assistant and then as Lab Coordinator. She wrote her Psychology honors thesis on whether the types of nouns that kids know influence how they extend novel nouns. Beginning in Fall 2012, she joined the University of Chicago's Department of Comparative Human Development as a PhD student.


Kate Phelps

Kate is a PhD student in the Linguistics department at CU-Boulder. Her main research interests include interface between language and cognition, categorization, first language acquisition, linguistic relativity, and cognitive communication disorders. Her other interests include snowboarding, hiking, and historical architecture and design.


Dr. Chandra Brojde

Dr. Brojde graduated in 2010 with her joint Ph.D. in cognitive psychology and cognitive science. Her thesis title was "The Relationship between Parent's Comparisons of Nouns and Children's Noun Learning." She is now working as a researcher at OMNI Institute in Denver, CO and conducts research and evaluation studies for government and non-profit agencies.


  • Jackson Tolins
  • Hannah Glick
  • Molly Bloom
  • Reina Doyle
  • Amisha Padhiar
  • Anna Pham
  • Elise Goretsky
  • Mariya Dvoskina
  • Chelsea Porter
  • Leslie Evans
  • Lauren Wilkins
  • Helen Couppis
  • Anna Clark
  • Cotton Widdicombe
  • Elizabeth Da Rin
  • Jamie Bradt
  • Jacqueline Spitzer
  • Jennifer Loenstein
  • David Epstein
  • Juliana Tafoya
  • Jada Larson
  • Ariel Aguilar
  • Allison O'Connor
  • Perri Chernick
  • Gabrielle Junor
  • Alane Downing
  • Lindsey Sanders
  • Jenny Zeberlein
  • Kyla Cheung (Columbia)
  • Liz Handing
  • Danielle Robinson
  • Kelly Nelson
  • Amelia Goslin
  • Paige Hennis
  • Jackie Peterson
  • Christina Jacobs
  • Kirsten Sabotnik
  • Kathryn Stoddard
  • Ellen Ratigan
  • Vanessa Roman
  • Lauren Gindin
  • Jacquline Dauw
  • Limor Fraenkel
  • Courtney Stefaniak
  • Jennifer Gleason
  • Karrie Godwin
  • Jennifer Rehger
  • Katie Gambardella
  • Renee Miller
  • Kristina Muntean
  • Allison Langley
  • Yunzhijun Yu
  • Katherine Double
  • Dann Albright
  • Sabeen Ahmed
  • Morgan Scott
  • Lera Yavich
  • Andrea Aibner
  • Emily Little
  • Victoria Taylor
  • Elizabeth Mayer
  • Haleh Yazdi
  • Megan Orcutt
  • Mehroonsh Hirsaee
  • Erin Colburn
  • Timaree Zadell
  • Chris Hydock
  • Laine Wells
  • Noelle Bakken
  • Tara Meyer
  • Ashley Solomon
  • Cody McCain
  • Chad Brophy
  • Kelsey Young
  • Elizabeth Shay (UPenn)
  • Tess Amer
  • Megan Crosby
  • Katherine Cox
  • Sarah Mulford
  • Bryan Koppa
  • Carly Morrison
  • Sam Rhoton
  • Mackenzie Phillips
  • Greg Schreck
  • Bry Kring
  • Dara Chase
  • Haley McTee
  • Heather Hall
  • Mary Roszel
  • Hayley Brown
  • Melissa Skowronski
  • Lexi Tonascia
  • Jaspreet Shahi
  • Skylar Scheufele
  • Destinie Bustamante-LeRoux
  • Maddie Phillips
  • Camden Quigley
  • Lita Rattanakit
  • Terra Hazen
  • Jessica Williams

Undergraduate Honors Theses