Kaja Jasińska is fundamentally interested in the neural mechanisms that support language (monolingual or bilingual, signed or spoken), reading and cognitive development across the lifespan. Her research asks questions such as how early life experience changes the brain’s capacity for language and learning. She uses MRI and functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) neuroimaging technology in combination with genetic and behavioral analyses to gain new insights into the biological underpinnings of language, reading, and human cognition.

Visit Dr. Jasińska’s personal page here.



Hermann Akpe has a PhD in Social Sciences and Human Capital Development from the Institute Development and Anthropology (ISAD) at Félix Houphouët Boigny University (UFHB). He holds M.A. and B.A. degrees in developmental economy. His research focuses on education, and he has worked on projects concerning the quality of professional development at private institutions of higher education. His research interests also include  professional integration strategies. He is a member of the National Committee for Early Childhood Integrated Development (CNDIDJE) and has a special interest in young children’s learning abilities.

French Description
Je m’appelle AKPE YAPO HERMANN, je suis ivoirien, titulaire d’un Doctorat en Sciences Sociales de Développement du Capital Humain acquit à l’institut des Sciences Anthropologiques de développement (ISAD) de l’université Félix Houphouët Boigny (UFHB). Je suis également titulaire d’une maîtrise et d’une licence en économie de développement. J’ai un intérêt particulier pour la recherche empirique dans le domaine éducatif. J’ai notamment travaillé sur la qualité de la formation professionnelle dans les établissements supérieurs privés et sur les perspectives d’insertion professionnelle. Membre du Comité National de Développement Intégré du Jeune Enfant (CNDIDJE) et passionné des questions d’acquisition de compétences chez les Jeunes enfants, je saisi l’opportunité que m’offre ce projet pour renforcer mes capacités et développer des axes stratégiques de recherche. Je remercie pour l’occasion Dr Kaja Jasinska pour son coaching.

Fabrice Tanoh — Research coordinator for Ivorian team Fabrice is a third-year doctoral student in Economic Sociology at the University Felix Houphouet Boigny (UFHB) in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire. His research focuses on issues related to children’s education in rural areas. His work on the  Promoting Literacy Development in Rural Cocoa-Producing Communities project centers around the sociological and socioeconomic context of child literacy development. He also leads the Science Capacity Building collaboration with research partners in Ivory Coast (CIERPA, World Education, Laboratory of Neuroscience, French Agency of Development, and others). This project aims to increase the skills of young researchers and launch joint research projects on education in Côte d’Ivoire.

Graduate Students

Axel Seri is pursuing an master’s degree in ethics and governance with a focus on sustainable development at the Center for Research and Action for Peace (CERAP) in Côte d’Ivoire. He is passionate about research and hopes to contribute to scientific innovation serving sustainable development in Africa. He works on the Promoting Literacy Development in Rural Cocoa-Producing Communities project and plans to continue studies at the doctoral level.

Joelle Hannon is a second-year doctoral student in Linguistics at the University of Delaware. She holds a B.A. in Anthropology from the University of North Texas and an M.A. in Linguistics and Cognitive Science from the University of Delaware. Her research interests are in literacy development and second language acquisition and how these relate to memory and other aspects of neurocognitive development. She is particularly interested in these issues within the context of lower and middle income countries. She is involved in the Promoting Literacy Development in Rural Cocoa-Producing Communities project.


Alyssa Kampa is a collaborator from the Language and Cognition Lab and is a PhD student in Linguistics & Cognitive Science at the University of Delaware. She is interested in the study of child language acquisition, specifically the acquisition of pragmatics. Her research focuses on the development of complex pragmatic reasoning abilities necessary for the comprehension of scalar implicatures. Her work with the BOLD lab involves studying the neural mechanisms behind scalar implicature derivation, executive functioning, and theory of mind abilities in preschool-aged children, as well as investigating how these cognitive processes in the developing brain compare to adult correlates. 


Danyang Wang is a collaborator from the The Language Learning and Bilingualism Lab and is a first year doctoral student in the Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders at University of Delaware. She obtained her master’s degree in Linguistics and Cognitive Science. She started working with Dr. Kaja Jasinska in the BOLD Lab in May 2018. She is currently working on a bilingual project that examines the influences of L1 cross-linguistics differences on L2 processing. Morphological Processing in Bilinguals vs. Monolinguals.


Shakhlo Nematova completed an undergraduate degree in English Philology from The Uzbek State World Languages University, and a Masters  in Teaching English as a Second Language (TESL) from the University of Delaware. She first became interested in child language acquisition and bilingualism when she was working in an international school with grades K-1. This teaching experience led her to apply to the Fulbright Foreign Language Teaching Assistant program where she was a Fulbright Exchange visitor in the Linguistics and Cognitive Science program at the University of Delaware. Currently, Shakhlo is a first-year PhD-student in the Linguistics and Cognitive Science program. She is working on a joint project between the SLAM Lab and the BOLD lab that combines eye-tracking and fNIRS to investigate brain and language development in young children with cochlear implants.



Mary-Claire Ball is an M.A. student in the Department of Linguistics and Cognitive Science at the University of Delaware. She holds a B.S. in Diplomacy and International Relations from Seton Hall University where her studies and research focused on sustainable development. She is interested in literacy, language, and education in relation to global development.


Research Assistants

Adji Thierry holds a masters in Linguistics from the University of Félix Houphouët-Boigny, where he has also studied law. He is the team’s Attie specialist and also administers French-language assessments as part of the Promoting Literacy Development in Rural Cocoa-Producing Communities project. He has now participated in four field experiments with the team and plans to continue his studies in linguistics.

French Description
Je me nomme ADJI YVES THIERRY, je suis titulaire d’une maîtrise en Linguistique à l’Université Félix Houphouët-Boigny ou j’ai étudié aussi le Droit. Au sein de l’équipe ou je suis à ma quatrième expériences de terrain, je suis enquêteur en langue attié. J’effectue également tous les tests en française. J’ai un projet de continuer mes études en Linguistique et profiter des savoirs acquis au cours des expériences vécues avec Dr KAJA JASINSKA.
Danielle Kablan holds a bachelor’s degree in linguistic and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in psycholinguistics. Her master’s thesis focuses on a congenital malformation called cleft lip and palate which affects children throughout development and language acquisition. She is one of the team’s Baoulé language experts in the Promoting Literacy Development in Rural Cocoa-Producing Communities project. She hopes to obtain a doctorate in psycholinguistics, and eventually launch her own private practice.
French Description
Salut, je m’appelle KABLAN N’sakilizou Diane Danielle. J’ai une licence en linguistique et actuellement je fais un Master en psycholinguistique. Pour le mémoire de fin d’année, je travaille sur une malformation congénitale appelée la fente labio-palatine qui affecte les enfants au cours de leur développement et l’acquisition du langage. Je suis locutrice Baoulé dans le projet Promoting Literacy Development in Rural Cocoa-Producing Communities. Après cette enrichissante expérience de terrain, je suis motivée plus que par le passé à devenir également Docteur en psycholinguistique puis avoir mon propre cabinet afin de pouvoir exercer le métier de psycholinguiste.

Victoria Bobowska is currently pursuing a BS in Cognitive Science with a concentration in Computational, Mathematical, and Logical Foundations. In addition, she is working towards minors in computer science and history. She is interested in how the brain processes and stores language.

Alma Rojas is a freshman computer science major at the University of Delaware with interests in artificial intelligence and cognitive systems. She hopes to continue doing research on artificial intelligence systems and furthering her career working as a BOLD Lab research assistant.

Elise Shealy is a junior neuroscience major with a French minor at the University of Delaware, in addition to being a lifelong musician. She intends to pursue a master’s degree in neuroscience, and hopes to one day ask her own questions about developmental language in a research context.

Zizhuo Xu is pursing a B.S degree in Applied Economic and Statistics with a Computer Science minor at the University of Delaware. He hopes to use his knowledge to analyze data in the area of neuroscience and brain. He also hopes to gain more knowledge during this research experience with this great team.

Jiamian Wang is currently pursuing a B.S. in Computer Science major at the University of Delaware. He works on coding for a machine learning model, this model is later used to analyze fNIRS data in the lab. He hopes his code can help further the discovery of the brain.


Laís Freitas — Former Visiting Student. Lais is a clinical psychologist and was a visiting student from the Federal University of São Paulo in Brazil. Her collaboration at the BOLD Lab centered around childhood cognitive development, transcultural neuropsychology, socioeconomic status, and literacy, with a primary focus on executive functions.

Sosthene Guei — Former Research Coordinator. Sosthene is now pursuing a masters degree in child development at the University of Haifa in Israel. He holds an M.A. in sustainable development with a specialization in corporate social responsibility, as well as a master’s in English studies. His research works focus on development issues related to education and sustainability in Africa.

Kali Bussey — Former Research Assistant. Kali is currently pursuing a masters in communication sciences and disorders at the University of Delaware. After her two years at UD, she plans on becoming a Speech-Language Pathologist in a clinical setting.

Kerryann Pini — Former Research Assistant. Kerryann is currently pursing an M.A./Ed.S. degree in School Psychology at the University of Delaware. She also works at the Center for Disabilities Studies. After graduate school, she hopes to become a school psychologist and possibly go into research on children’s psychoeducational assessment.

Kenya Neal — Former Research Assistant. Kenya is a senior sociology major at the University of Delaware with a double minors in Human Development and Family Services and Medical Social Services . She plans to go to graduate school to pursue her masters in social work. She is passionate about working with children and child development. She joined the Bold Lab through the McNair scholars program.

Violet Kozloff — Former Lab Manager. Violet graduated from Wellesley College with a B.A. in Cognitive and Linguistic Sciences and French, where she developed a study on children’s acquisition of non-native intonation patterns. Violet was the BOLD Lab manager from 2017 to 2018. Violet now works at the Social Cognitive Neuroscience Laboratory at the University of Chicago.

Sarah Wang — Former Doctoral Student. Sarah Wang was a second year doctoral student in Linguistics at the University of Delaware. She is currently an SAT tutor for high school students.

Jennifer Rojas – Former Research Assistant. Jennifer graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.S. in Neuroscience. She was very interested in how language is affected during different stages of child development. She has recently moved to Virginia to pursue a Master’s Degree in Biomedicine at Eastern Mennonite University.

Hannah Carney – Former Research Assistant. Hannah graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.S. in Cognitive Science (Speech-Language Pathology) at the University of Delaware. She enjoyed learning about the different factors that affect language. She is currently interning at the Speech Language-Hearing Clinic on STAR Campus at UD. She will be applying for graduate programs in Speech-Language Pathology.

Janina Boecher – Former Graduate Student. Janina Boecher is a second-year PhD student at the department of Linguistics & Cognitive Science. She holds a B.A. in English Linguistics and Literature from Justus-Liebig-University Giessen, Germany. She is interested in child language development and second language acquisition. Janina is currently working at Experimental Psycholinguistics Laboratory (EPL) studying speech perception in second language acquisition.


Kelsey Mulford – Former Lab Manager. Kelsey graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.S. in Cognitive Science (Speech-Language pathology). She is now enrolled in the masters program at the University of Delaware in Communication Sciences and Disorders. She is interested in research related to speech and language and how research influences clinical practice.


Erin Curran – Former Lab Manager. Erin graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.S. degree in Cognitive Science. She is now enrolled in the Speech-Language Pathology Master’s Program at Gallaudet University.


Reyna Trujillo – Former Research Assistant. Reyna graduated from the University of Delaware with a B.A. degree in Biology. She hopes to pursue a career in the medical field, with a strong interest in psychology and/or neuroscience.

Justus Matteson – Former Research Assistant. Justus graduated from the University of Delaware with a .. degree in Computer Engineering. As a research assistant in the BOLD lab he developed computer programs to analyze lab data. He is now working …

Benjamin Zinszer – Former Research Associate. Ben was a research associate in the BOLD lab and the Princeton Baby Lab . His research explores language learning, bilingualism, and how the brain represents linguistic categories. He uses behavioral, computational, and neuroimaging methods in this work. Ben is now a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Psychology Department at Swarthmore College.

Visit Benjamin’s personal page here.

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