Faculty Adviser: Casey Lew-Williams
Year of Study:
Undergraduate School: Heidelberg University, Germany
Undergraduate Major: Linguistics, Mathematics, Psychology
I became interested in psychological research relatively late in my studies. While studying abroad in Edinburgh, I took classes on language evolution and psychology that opened my eyes to a wide range of interdisciplinary fields asking fundamental questions about how the mind works and how it develops. My first "taste" of psychological research came as a summer research intern at the Max Planck Institute for Human Brain and Cognitive Sciences in Leipzig, Germany, where I worked on a project studying language processing networks in the brain. I then went on to work in a developmental psychology lab at my "home" university in Heidelberg, Germany. There, I worked on projects studying how children learn to imitate others. In graduate school at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, I studied mechanisms underlying infant language learning, among many other questions related to language processing and conceptual development. I recently received my PhD (2020) and have just started as a postdoc at Princeton University, working with Casey Lew-Williams at the Princeton Baby Lab. Due to the pandemic, I have not yet moved to Princeton, but I am looking forward to getting to know the area soon!
Things I enjoy outside of research:
- frisbee of all kinds
- whimsical folk music
- literature (esp. science fiction at the moment)
- I grew up in Germany, and almost all of my schooling until graduate school was in German (though my parents are American, so I grew up bilingually. My sister and I used to think that English was the language of grown-ups and German was the language of kids, since we only spoke it in kindergarten).
- I played semi-serious-ish baseball at the national level in Germany (yes, this exists!!)
- My spirit animal is a dog of some sort (opinions on the specific breed vary)
I study language - how we learn it and what we do with it. Specifically, I’m interested in how infants and children learn language and the consequences of learning language for development. In my work, my main focus is on understanding what learning mechanisms underlie language development, particularly children’s motivation to actively seek new information, prediction-based learning, and statistical learning mechanisms. For example, what kind of information are infants and children drawn to, and how does this affect how they learn?
I’m also interested in contributing to open-science efforts focused on improving methods in infancy research and developing tools and datasets in the service of answering tricky theoretical questions (for an in-progress example, see https://peekbank.stanford.edu/, an effort to build an open database of developmental eye-tracking datasets; or https://manybabies.github.io/, a collaborative project conducting multi-lab replications of infancy research).
You can check out more info about my research on my website, here: https://mzettersten.github.io/
Plans for Summer 2022
Confirmed pairing; no longer looking for a mentee.