Research Team

Faculty


Christina Starmans

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Christina is interested in how children and adults reason about the social and moral world. Her research draws on methods and ideas from both philosophy and psychology to explore topics such as morality, free will, other minds, ownership, fairness, and knowledge. She came to U of T after completing her graduate and postdoctoral work at Yale University; before that, she was an undergraduate in Philosophy, Psychology, and Cognitive Science at the University of Waterloo.


Lab Coordinator



Umang Khan

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Umang graduated from the University of Toronto with a BSc in Neuroscience and Psychology. She is interested in how children and adults reason about complex concepts such as improbability, temptation, and morality. In her spare time, Umang enjoys binge-watching TV shows, listening to music and thinking she’s really funny.


Graduate Students




Inderpreet Gill

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Inderpreet is an MA student in Psychology. She is interested in investigating the social-cognitive mechanisms underlying moral judgments and actions, and hopes to explore how infants and young children understand and respond to bullying behaviour. In her spare time, Inderpreet can be found exploring the city, swimming or binge-watching ‘The Office’.



Julia Espinosa

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Julia is a second year PhD student in Psychology. She is interested in how dogs and humans think, learn, and navigate the world. She enjoys designing and carrying out behavioural studies in the form of interactive food puzzles with pet dogs. Her work in the StarLab looks at how adults and children think about animals' mental abilities. When not hanging out with dogs and doing research, she can be found drinking coffee, dancing, or lifting weights.


Daryna Skybina

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Daryna recently completed a BSc in Research Psychology with a minor in Buddhism, Psychology and Mental Health, and is now completing a Master of Pastoral Studies in a Spiritual Care Stream with a focus in Buddhism. She completed her undergraduate thesis in the StarLab investigating how adults judge people who make moral decisions easily or with difficulty, and she is continuing to work on this project while also pursuing her Masters. In her spare time, she enjoys yoga, making crafts, and trying new recipes.


Undergraduate Students



Maia Jaffer-Diaz

Maia is a fourth-year psychology specialist with a double minor in Immunology and Buddhist Psychology. Ever since she was little, she has enjoyed playing with younger kids. She has applied this passion locally in her neighborhood through babysitting and globally through helping a shelter for abused and abandoned girls in Guatemala. Her interests in psychology range from exploration of brain networks to interactions between people to child development. Her plan after university is to follow clinical psychology or research. Outside of school, Maia loves to travel, dance and play music with friends.




Sikun Li

Sikun is a fourth-year undergraduate student studying psychology and biology. She is interested in developmental psychology, and how changes in the brain can influence an individual’s sense of self, as well as their moral behaviour. In her spare time, she enjoys drawing, volunteering, and binge-reading books during the night (and then regretting it the next day).




Julie Porrot

Julie is going into her fourth year, majoring in Human Biology-Health & Disease, with a double minor in Psychology and Physiology. She is fascinated by science and is interested in learning more about children's development and how the brain can influence personality, moral judgment, self and identity. Julie loves to help others and volunteering with a future goal to pursue a career in Clinical Psychology or in the field of Medicine to impart her knowledge and improve the world. Outside of her studies, Julie loves to stroll through museums and playing sports, including dragon boating, swimming, rock climbing, volleyball and many others.



Melissa Finlay

Melissa just finished her second year and is pursuing a double major in psychology and human biology. She is particularly interested in developmental and clinical psychology and many areas of health and wellbeing. She has always loved working with kids and has had lots of experience working with children in camp, school, pool, and hospital environments. In her spare time, Melissa enjoys trying new recipes, doing anything outside (running, biking, swimming, boating), and watching Netflix.




Morgan Garland

Morgan is a second year undergraduate student, majoring in psychology and physiology. She is interested in developmental and clinical psychology and how development affects future mental health. In her spare time, she can be found figure skating, teaching children how to skate, horseback riding, and reading.




Jasmine Amini

Jasmine is a third-year undergrad student specializing in psychology and majoring in neuroscience. She is deeply interested in childhood development, especially in issues pertaining to morality, sense of self, and personality. In the future, she hopes to attend graduate school and to work as a child and adolescent clinical psychologist. Outside of school, Jasmine loves to read, paint, watch movies, and spend time with friends/family.



Sasha Arnett

Sasha is a third-year specialist in psychology with a minor in Education and Society. She is interested in all aspects of psychology, especially the potential growth and development the subject can benefit from and be of benefit to. Outside of her studies, she is involved in athletics, character development of children and youths, and art. She wishes to use her knowledge in psychology to contribute to the betterment world and the people therein.


Amanda Abbasi

Amanda is a third-year undergraduate student pursuing a degree in Psychology with aspirations of getting her masters in Clinical Psychology. She hopes to work with youth from diverse backgrounds in a variety of settings to promote wellness and wellbeing. She is eager to develop her skillset so as to better assist and serve her community. Amanda enjoys spending time with her family and loved ones and her interests include the arts, outdoor activities and community engagement.


Lab Alumni


Anahid Nasafizadeh

Anahid is a third-year undergraduate pursuing a specialist degree in Political Science with a minor in European Union Studies. Her passions are centred in politics and global governance with relation to human rights, justice, and the law. She believes there is an intersection between these fields and Psychology, which is why she is very excited to delve deeper into research regarding moral obligations. For many years, she has worked with children while volunteering at the Glenbow Museum, and in her spare time, she enjoys playing tennis and piano, debating, listening to music, and shopping.

Isabel Bowman

Isabel is a third-year Cognitive Science major and Psychology specialist, and finds all disciplines that study the mind deeply fascinating. This summer she is investigating the folk psychological notion of a 'true self', particularly if children perceive others as having, at their core, morally virtuous true selves (and what the explanations and implications of this essentialist tendency may be). Outside of her work in the StarLab, she has emerging interests in peripheral fields, such as cognitive scientific approaches to mythology, fiction and storytelling. Among other things, she often reads, and occasionally attempts to write.

Simonne Mastrella

Simonne is a fourth-year undergraduate specializing in Psychology Research and majoring in Economics. She has had an interest in working with children ever since she graduated from that age group and became an adolescent. Her work in the StarLab gives her an opportunity to build on the skills she developed as a camp counsellor and in her experience with social psychology research. After completing her undergraduate studies, she hopes to pursue a graduate degree in Psychology and research how academic difficulties impact children beyond their grades. In her spare time, you can find her reading and writing new adult fiction.


Allison Zhou

Allison is a second-year undergraduate student pursuing a specialist in Psychology and minor in Physiology at the University of Toronto. She is fascinated by how childhood development affects social cognition in adulthood and is excited to be a part of a developmental lab. She loves working with children and has volunteered for many years at her church. In her spare time, she can be found reading, listening to music and volunteering.


Yolanda Yu

Yolanda is in her second year at U of T majoring in Immunology and Psychology. Having volunteered with children for many years, she is excited to understand more about children's development. In particular, she is working on investigating children predictions about how they will change over time. In her spare time, she loves to paint, play video games, and read.


Kathy Du

Kathy is a second-year psychology specialist. She is still exploring specific direction she would like to pursue in psychology; she is interested in developmental, social, and clinical psychology. Her more niche interest is the psychology of members of fringe groups such as flat-earthers; how they arrive and become attracted to their illogical conclusions. Overall, her interest in psychology stems from her fascination with understanding and improving things such as abnormal behaviours through the scientific study of the mind. She loves interacting with children and has volunteered at summer camps prior to joining the lab.


Brianna Wang

Brianna is a second-year undergraduate student studying Criminology and Political Science. She is interested in developmental psychology, specifically with relation to moral issues. In the StarLab, Brianna hopes to gain further understanding of psychological research and children’s perception of concepts such as the moral virtue and moral obligation. In her spare time, she enjoys exploring nature, reading, playing the flute and guitar, and cooking.

Philip Rajewicz

Philip is a third-year specialist in Psychology, a major in Cognitive Science and a minor in Philosophy. His academic interests revolve around higher cognitive process like morality, ideas of the self, wisdom, rationality and intelligence. He is also extremely passionate about how researchers can understand pressing questions about the human mind in a lucid and truthful manner; one that is afforded to us by using the research methods of the modern behavioural sciences and the rigour and clarity provided by a philosophically informed framework. Outside of his academic interests, he has enjoys reading a great deal.