Lab Director

Vicky T. Lai is an assistant professor in psychology and cognitive science. The overarching theme of her research is the processing of meaning and language in context. Specific topics include non-literal language, emotion and language, and language and thought. In her free time, Vicky likes to swim, hike, cook and eat gourmet foods with friends and colleagues, and watch sci-fi movies and dark comedies.


katyaEkaterina (Katya) Delikishkina joined the lab as a postdoc after graduating from the International Doctorate in Experimental Approaches to Language and Brain (Universities of Trento and Groningen). Together with Vicky, Katya is working on an fMRI project focusing on the facilitation of concept learning through the use of metaphor. In her spare time, Katya reads non-fiction and explores the outdoors on foot and by bike.

Graduate Students

Li-Chuan "Matt" Ku is a PhD student in the cognition and neural systems (CNS) program in the department of psychology. He is interested in emotion and non-literal language processing (e.g. jokes). He is particularly fascinated by how emotion concepts are encoded in our mental lexicon and how individual differences in cognitive abilities can affect the processing of implied emotions in language. He uses EEG, fMRI, and MEG. In his free time, Matt likes cycling, reading thrillers, and traveling.

Valeria Pfeifer is a PhD candidate in the cognition and neural systems (CNS) program in the department of psychology. Her dissertation investigates how irony impacts emotion using EEG and fMRI. When there is no pandemic, Valeria enjoys dancing, yoga, and cooking.

Stanley Donahoo is a PhD student in the linguistics department with a minor in cognitive science (advisor Thomas G. Bever). He is interested in experimental pragmatics and sentence processing in context.  He is also interested in using neuroscience approaches towards a better understanding of both literal and non-literal language.  His current work in this lab examines the processing and effects of swear words (e.g., damn, shit). In his free time, Stanley likes cycling around Tucson and trying out new coffee roasteries. 

Anna Katikhina is a Ph.D. student in the Second Language Acquisition and Teaching (SLAT) program. She is interested in how first and second languages shape human cognition. Anna’s research focuses on event representations in speakers of languages that encode verbal aspect and those that don't. In her free time, Anna enjoys traveling around the world.

Undergraduate students: We are recruiting undergraduate students who are interested in gaining language research experiences in the forms of (1) independent study, (2) volunteer, and (3) honors thesis. You will receive training on EEG methodology and data analysis, which would be valuable for you in terms of future grad school application. Please contact Dr. Lai for more info or/and to set up a meeting for discussion.

Undergraduate Students

nicoleNicole Werner is an undergraduate honors student majoring in psychology. She is interested in working with underrepresented populations in the field of psychology. She is a research assistant in the lab. She also assists in teaching English and computer skills to immigrants and refugees in the Tucson community. In her free time, she enjoys spending time with family, writing poetry, traveling, cooking, and playing board games and cards.

sophiaSophia Maytorena is an undergraduate student in the Honors College double majoring in Psychological Science and Spanish Linguistics. She is interested in psycholinguistics, particularly with language acquisition in bilinguals and understanding ironic processes. Sophia currently a member in the Pride of Arizona marching band and enjoys running and traveling in her free time.

Madison OfficerMadison Officer is a junior in the Honors College majoring in Neuroscience and Cognitive Science. Some of her passions within neuroscience include CTE and Neurolaw, the junction between neuroscience and the criminal justice system. She is also a member of the UArizona equestrian team and enjoys reading and modeling in her free time. 

Miranda DiazMiranda Diaz is a senior Psychological Science major and Family Studies and Human Development minor. She is interested in clinical psychology and she hopes to work primarily with children, adolescents, and their families in the future. In her free time, she enjoys having game nights with friends, watching movies, and taking care of her little sister.

Luis HernandezLuis Hernandez is a senior majoring in Psychological Science and minoring in Spanish. He is currently also working in Dr. Jessica Andrews-Hanna's NET lab in the psychology department. He is interested in all aspects of psychology, but some of his favorites revolve around social psychology, for example theory of mind, self esteem, emotions, and memory. His ultimate goal is to become a clinical psychologist. 

rachaelRachael Ramirez is a junior majoring in BS of Psychology. She is interested in the field of clinical psychology and a research assistant in the lab. She also works in Dr. Mary-Frances-O’Connor’s GLASS lab. In her free time, Rachael enjoy reading mystery books, spending time with friends and family, and exploring nature.

adian smithAidan Smith is a Junior majoring in psychological science, with a minor in classics. His main interests lie in cross-cultural language development, and individual differences of language acquisition. His further research passions are in mental health, psychopathology, and disorders of all kinds. In his free time, Aidan loves to take runs, hike, skate, hangout with friends, and play video games.