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

Social Media


Lab Manager

Christina Ruiz-Mendoza

Christina Ruiz-Mendoza’s interest lies in animal social and developmental cognition. She graduated with a B.S. with Distinctions in Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience with a Political Science minor. Her senior thesis investigated whether bottlenose dolphins (Tursiops truncatus) possess the social skill to co-orient, considering they are highly collaborative and live in complex social systems.




Post-Doctoral Scholar

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

Rachel Bristol has a BA in English from the University of Oregon, an MA in linguistics from the University of Delaware, and is currently a doctoral candidate in UC San Diego’s department of cognitive science. She is broadly interested in the pragmatic aspects of knowledge negotiation in conversational interaction. Her current work focuses on the social consequences of violating norms of knowledge ownership and transfer and explores the sociolinguistic practices that surround disputes of epistemic authority.






Stephan Kaufhold

A psychologist by training, Stephan has spent the last years mainly studying the behavior and cognitive abilities of different apes species (gibbons, orangutans, gorillas, humans, bonobos, chimpanzees). Stephan’s research aims at gaining insights about the ultimate and proximate origins of social cognition in humans and animals through comparative and developmental approaches. More precisely, he asks questions such as: To what extent do cultures influence the social behavior in primate societies? How much intraspecific variation can be found in different primate species? What are the ultimate and proximate factors that lead individuals to either cooperate or compete with each other in specific interactions?


 Research Associate

Trisha Katz

Trisha graduated from Boston University in 2019, and since then she has been working as a lab manager at UCSD for the Early Learning & Cognition lab. She also joined the CCLab in January 2020, and here she is working on a study with Dr. Rossano that explores how information about social dominance and merit affect children’s resource allocations.





 Research Assistants

Andrea Guillen

Andrew Hernandez

Elizabeth Hostetter

Jessie Jing

Tiffany Ly

Trisha Katz

Karanjot Kaur

Allison Morgan

Meenakshi Patne

Rachel Semaya

Hana Vaid

Christian Vukovics

Bianca Wilson