Paul directs the Early Childhood Lab at Harvard University. The lab studies the development of cognition, emotion, and imagination, particularly in early childhood. Lab members include:



Jonathan Lane is a post-doctoral fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. His research focuses on the social-cognitive development of young children, and is characterized by two interrelated themes: children’s understanding of the mind (or their “theory of mind”) and children’s understanding of the counterintuitive. He earned his Ph.D. in developmental psychology from the University of Michigan in 2011, and his B.A. in psychology from Florida International University in 2005.

Doctoral Student

Samuel Ronfard is a third-year doctoral student in human development and education. He is interested in young children’s socio-cognitive development and its impact on children's ability to navigate their social world.

Research Assistants

Ilya Vidrin graduated in 2012 from Northeastern University's College of Science with a degree in psychology and English literature. As an undergraduate, he worked for several years in a clinical research program investigating the underlying mechanisms of neurodegenerative diseases, including Alzheimer's and Parkinson's, utilizing transcranial magnetic stimulation techniques. Concentrating in Human Development and Psychology at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, he is interested in exploring social-emotional learning, as well as cognitive development and facilitation in children and adults.

Katherine (Kat) Poynton is currently enrolled in the master’s program, with a concentration in Human Development and Psychology. Her background has primarily been within the field of education, as both an adult learner and professional. She has a master’s in educational psychology from The University of Melbourne, and has experience working as a teacher, school psychologist, and researcher. Her areas of interest include neuroscience, trauma, attachment, early childhood, social-emotional development, cultural experience, and research practices.

Joelynn Ng is interested in the practical applications of developmental psychology research in the education context. After graduating from University College London (class of 2013) with a B.Sc. (Honours) in psychology, she is now in the Human Development and Psychology program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. She had been involved in research at the Child Vision Lab and the Educational Psychology group at UCL, as well as the Psychological Services Branch in the Ministry of Education (Singapore). In the short run after her Ed.M., she will be returning to Singapore to serve as an elementary teacher in a public school.


Eden Wall is an Ed.M. student studying Human Development and Psychology. She is interested in young children's social-emotional development, especially identity and moral development. She is also interested in how school climates, classroom environments, and student-teacher relationships affect these areas of development in a school context.

Lab Affiliates

Telli Davoodi is a Ph.D. student at Boston University’s Social Development and Learning Lab. She received an Ed.M. from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2013 and prior to that, completed an M.A. in philosophy at Brown University. Her research interests include children’s learning of social and moral norms and the factors that contribute to their understanding of these norms. She hopes to pursue this line of research from a cross-cultural perspective and to study children’s moral and social development in varying social contexts.

Alexandra Was is a second-year doctoral student in psychology. Before coming to Harvard, she received her B.A. in psychology from Boston University and worked as a lab coordinator at the University of Michigan. She is interested in how children learn to operate in the social world, particularly relating to the domains of pedagogy, cooperation, and goal attribution. Her research explores how children develop an understanding of others’ perspectives, as well as how they utilize this information in social interactions.

Anne Marie McClain is in the Ed.M. program for Human Development and Psychology. After graduating from Williams College, she taught kindergarten and first grade in low-income communities in Brooklyn, and English at an under-resourced elementary school in rural Costa Rica. She is interested in the social and emotional development of children who face adversity and in school and community-based approaches that can support healthy child development

Previous Lab Members

  • Melissa Koenig
  • Eva Chen
  • Julia Hayden
  • Linda Abarbanell
  • Igor Bascandziev
  • Peter Blake
  • Diyu Chen
  • Kathleen Corriveau
  • Hadas Eidelman
  • Maria Fusaro
  • Angie L. Kim
  • Craig E. Smith
  • Taylor Brown