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2018 Hellman Fellows

Caren M. Walker

Creating cross-cultural understanding about early learning in childhood (UCSD)

Caren Walker is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at UC San Diego interested in how children learn and reason about the structure of the world. As a new faculty member she wanted to explore diversity in early learning to deepen understanding about the development of abstract reasoning about causality across cultural contexts.

She advanced her Early Learning & Cognition Lab with her 2018 Hellman Fellowship award by initiating an ambitious project that included new developmental research studies at several international sites. She supported six junior researchers abroad who collected data exploring how language, culture, and cognitive maturation influence relational reasoning. This work resulted in a top-tier, senior-author scientific publication covered by major media outlets including the Wall Street Journal and Discover Magazine, a Jacobs Foundation Fellowship, and opened up the opportunity for additional significant federal grant funding.

The Hellman Fellowship was instrumental in jump-starting my faculty career and in leading to my recent award of a prestigious Jacobs Foundation Fellowship.

– Caren Walker, Ph.D.

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