Current students

PhD Students

Dominique Callahan

Ph.D. student in Education – Human Development & Psychology (Expected June 2026)
B.A. in Psychology and Education & Child Study, Smith College, 2018

I am a student in the Human Development & Psychology division within the UCLA Department of Education. My current research interests include how students describe their experiences learning non-native languages as well as their perceptions of the role of their language teachers in the learning process. Prior to coming to UCLA, I taught English to elementary school students in Thailand for one year and then I worked as a Research Assistant in the Center for English Language Learning and Assessment at Educational Testing Service for about two years.

Janet Cerda

Ph.D. candidate in Human Development and Psychology (Expected Summer 2022)
M.S.Ed. in Bilingual Education, City University of New York, Hunter College, 2009
B.A. Hons. in Studio Art, Oberlin College, 2005

My research investigates the psychosocial and bi/multilingual development of immigrant children and youth over time and examines classroom assessment practices that document multilingual and multicultural teaching and learning. My work is informed by my professional experiences as a Spanish and English New York City bilingual teacher (grades 3, 5, 5, 6) and my personal experiences learning English as a new/second language in primary/ secondary school, while continuing to develop my heritage langauge (Spanish) at home with the support of my dedicated Mexican parents.


Clémence Darriet
Ph.D. student in Social Sciences and Comparative Education (Expected June 2023)
M.A. in Spanish, University of Wisconsin-Madison – 2012
B.A. in Anthropology, Spanish, International Studies – University of Wisconsin-Madison, 2009

I am a Ph.D. student in the Social Sciences and Comparative Education division with an interest in bilingual education. I currently work as a graduate student researcher at RFK UCLA Community School documenting the development of the secondary dual-language program through documenting paths to biliteracy. Prior to coming to UCLA, I was a high school Spanish and French teacher.


Juno Yingzhi Dong
Ph.D. student in Education – Human Development & Psychology 
M.A.  in Humanities (Linguistics), University of Chicago, 2019
B.A. in Global Studies and French, Colby College, 2018

I am interested in translanguaging as a theory and practice in education. My research focuses on supporting young dual language learners (DLLs) in early childhood settings. Prior to coming to HDP, I worked as a Research Assistant in Psycholinguistics and a Mandarin teacher.


Han Lee

Joint Doc Ph.D student in Special Education – Human Development & Psychology
M.S in Special Education – CSU East Bay
M.A in Educational Psychology – Pepperdine University

My research interests focus on addressing the disproportionate rates of English Learners in special education by examining the inaccuracy of current identification processes of the educational system. My own teaching experiences with culturally and linguistically diverse students with disabilities have been instrumental in shaping my hopes to support future special education teachers through fieldwork and research.


Michelle  Luna
Ph.D candidate. in Psychology –  (Expected June 2022)
M.A. Psychology, UCLA, 2017  M.A. in Romance Languages & Literature – University of Notre Dame, 2015 
B.A. in Psychology and French – University of Notre Dame, 2014

I am a student in the Developmental Psychology department. My main research interests include how children learn words and categories. I am also interested in seeing how we can apply learning research into educational contexts. My interest in language research started after I began comparing my different experiences learning English (as a 6 year old) and French (as a 14 year old). After college, I taught English in France where I continued to ask language learning questions. My dissertation will integrate some of the memory research findings into children storybooks to examine the effects of this research on children’s learning and memory.


Alejandra Martin
Ph.D. candidate in Education – Human Development & Psychology (Expected June 2022)
B.A. in Sociology  – University of California, Berkeley

My primary research interests include English and Dual language learners, concentrating on topics such as language development, social-emotional development, and academic achievement. Before I began the Ph.D. program, I was a Research Associate for several years.


Marlen Quintero Pérez
Ph.D. candidate in Education – Human Development & Psychology (Expected June 2021)
B.A. in English (Chicana/o Studies & Education minor) – University of California, Los Angeles

I am interested in developing more optimal instructional and assessment practices that promote the academic performance of Spanish-speaking English Language Learners (ELL). My recent research focused on the relationship between language of instruction (English-only or bilingual) and ELL students’ reading comprehension proficiency. My current study investigates how language of instruction impacts ELL students’ language beliefs.


Amy Woodbridge
Ph.D. candidate in Education – Human Development and Psychology (Expected June 2021)
B.A. in Linguistics, English – University of Pennsylvania

I am primarily interested in the relationship between language and cognition, and in the ways that oral and written language relate to each other. Within those broader topics, I am most curious about the relationship between social cognition and writing. My current research explores the ways elementary-aged children demonstrate cognitive perspective taking in written narratives. I have several years of ESL teaching experience and have worked as a teaching assistant in UCLA’s Linguistics department.


Yawen Yu
Ph.D. candidate in Human Development and Psychology (Expected June 2023)
M.A. in Humanities Studies – University of Chicago, IL 
B.A. in Philosophy – Zhejiang Gongshang University, China

I am interested in how culture, family practices and one’s identity influence language learning, and in understanding the effect of bilingual education on child development. My current research explores the relationship between academic performance of dual language immersion students and their self-concept.  My dissertation explores the cultural patterns of Chinese family talk and ways to support Chinese children’s development through daily conversations.