Our Team

If you’re interested in joining our team, please apply here!

 Principal Investigator:

Federico Rossano


Department of Cognitive Science
University of California, San Diego

Assistant Professor
Dr. Rossano came to the University of California, San Diego (UCSD) in January 2016 after obtaining his college degree in Italy from the University of Bologna, Italy (the oldest university in continuous operation in the world). He received a PhD from Radboud University in the Netherlands and from the Max Planck in Germany for Psycholinguistics. He also conducted postdoctoral research in Leipzig, Germany in the department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology. His research focuses on social cognition in humans and in non-human primates, in particular the development of social norms, property concerns, value perception, fairness, distributive and procedural justice in children, and the development of non-verbal communication in human children and baby primates. He has also conducted extensive cross-cultural research. 
Research Interests:
  • Social cognition
  • Ontogeny and phylogeny of property (possession, ownership)
  • Value perception, fairness, distributive and procedural justice
  • Joint attention, gaze following, and voice following
  • Ontogeny, structure, and timing of gestural communication
  • Sequential organization of talk and visible behavior in human communication
  • Interactional organization of cognitive and systemic psychotherapy sessions

Curriculum Vitae

My Google Scholar page


Lab Manager

Barbara Perez


Barbara Perez is the lab manager for Dr. Rossano’s Comparative Cognition Laboratory at the University of California, San Diego. She earned a B.A. in English as well as a B.S. in Psychology (specializing in Comparative Psychology) from the University of Florida, and worked as a research assistant in the Canine Cognition Laboratory at UF run by Dr. Clive Wynne. Her work has included an enrichment evaluation and assessment of stereotypic behavior for a pantropical spotted dolphin (Stenella attenuata), a bottlenose dolphin (Turnips truncates) mother-calf dyad cooperation study, participation in pantropical spotted dolphin and loggerhead sea turtle (Caret caretta) acoustic studies, an enrichment study with Galapagos tortoises (Geochelone nigra), match-to-sample studies with a pantropical spotted dolphin, work on the mammalian lateral line with Florida manatees (Trichechus manatus), participation in a field study of bottlenose dolphins with the Sarasota Dolphin Research Project, a dog shelter study, participation on a wolf-dog hybrid desensitization project, and participation in sea turtle hatchling morphometrics projects. Furthermore, Ms. Perez has experience working with children (ages 3-18) as a visiting teacher, as well as in a research setting.


Post-Doctoral Scholars

Jingzhi Tan

Dr. Jingzhi Tan is a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Cognitive Science at the University of California, San Diego. He obtained his B.S. in life science from Peking University in 2008 and his Ph.D. in evolutionary anthropology from Duke University in 2013. His research focuses on human cognitive evolution, and specifically, the evolution of cooperation beyond group boundaries. He takes a comparative approach by studying humans, bonobos, chimpanzees, monkeys, lemurs and dogs. For the past decade, he has been conducting non-invasive research in schools, zoos and animal sanctuaries.



Alejandro Sanchez-Amaro

Sanchez-Amaro’s interest is in the social cognitive abilities of great apes and human infants, which he explores through a comparative perspective. Specifically, he is interested in how primates solve cooperative social dilemmas that involve a conflict of interest. To that end, he conducts non-invasive experiments using a variety of Game Theoretical models such as the Snowdrift and the Prisoner’s Dilemma game. In these games, subjects must coordinate their actions in situations where their interests are not aligned. This research has constituted the principal part of his dissertation at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Leipzig.

He also conducts non-social cognitive studies aimed at investigating the psychological mechanisms underlying irrational cognitive biases in great apes, such as the “less is more” effect, “sunk-cost” effects and “decoy effect” tasks” in collaboration with colleagues at the CEU in Budapest and the University of St. Andrews in UK.

He just recently joined the Comparative Cognition Lab in the Cognitive Science Department of the University of California, San Diego to conduct his Postdoc research under the supervision of  Dr. Federico Rossano.



 Graduate Students

Rachel Bristol

Stephan Kaufhold

 Research Assistants


Robert Ball

Niel Bezrookove

Fiona Cisternas

Fernando Cortez

Farrah Ferrer

Catherine Hallsten

David Hermoza

Maiyi Huang

Raveen Johal

Jenny (Myung) Kim

Krislyn Lacroix

Paulina Lee

Hazel Leung

Jason Lin

Meagan Montalto

Ergin Ozyazgan

Marc Raphael

Nicki Rohani

Karina Sevilla

Danielle Shamam

Kyle Sung

Niki Tam

Emily Tam

Risheng Tan

Bianca Wilson

Christie Wolters

Yuwei Zhang