Project Affiliates

Primary Investigators

Rebekah Richert is an associate professor of psychology and the director of the Childhood Cognition Lab at the University of California, Riverside. Based on her training in cognitive development, Richert has developed various lines of research into how children’s developing social cognition influences their understanding of religion, fantasy, and media. Her research team is nearly done with data collection from a JTF-funded, 6-wave longitudinal study of the development of religious cognitions in early childhood in children from various religious background. Her research has been published in top journals in developmental psychology, including Child Development, Cognitive Development, Developmental Psychology, and British Journal of Developmental Psychology, as well as journals specifically devoted to the psychology of religion, including Research in the Social Scientific Study of Religion and Journal of Cognition & Culture. Richert’s research has been funded by the National Science Foundation (including as PI of a 5-year Collaborative Research Grant), the Social Science Research Council, the John Templeton Foundation, and the Templeton World Charity Trust.

Kathleen Corriveau is an associate professor of applied human development at Boston University and the director of the Social Learning Lab. Her research focuses on social and cognitive development in childhood, with a specific focus on how children decide what people and what information are trustworthy sources.   She has established fieldsites in multiple countries, including China, Hong Kong, Iran and Turkey. She has a strong commitment for focusing on within-culture individual differences based on family socioeconomic status and religiosity. Corriveau's research has been widely published in a number of high-impact journals, including Psychological Science, Child Development, Developmental Psychology, Cognitive Science, Cognition. Her work on the role of religious exposure in children’s reality status judgments received national media attention, with media coverage from New York Daily News, USA Today, Huffington Post, Wall Street Journal, Chicago Reader, The Week UK, Religion News Service, World Religion News, Philosophy News, Slate, Swedish Radio, The Economist, and CBC Radio. Her work has been funded by the National Science Foundation (including a 7 PI Collaborative Research Grant), the Templeton Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Association for Psychological Science, and the American Psychological Association. Kathleen has received several awards, including being named a current Fellow and former Rising Star by the Association for Psychological Science, and the Early Career Impact Award from the Foundation of Associations of Behavioral and Brain Sciences and holds a CAREER award from the National Science Foundation.

Postdoctoral Research Associates

Maliki Eyvonne Ghossainy  is a psychological scientist and statistician. In 2016, she completed her Ph.D in Psychology at The University of Texas at Austin. Her research integrates social, cognitive, cultural, and biological mechanisms into a model of belief formation across the early childhood years. Using mixed methods designs, Maliki studies the sophisticated ways in which children judiciously evaluate different sources of information. Maliki’s research emphasizes the importance of studying children’s cognition in context, and her recent studies investigate the role of linguistic input in the epistemic judgements of multilingual children. While working on her doctoral degree, Maliki also completed an M.S. in Statistics and was one of five students to be selected as a Graduate Fellow in Statistics at UT Austin in 2014. In addition to being an experienced researcher, Maliki is also an active statistical consultant and has worked with clients from a variety of fields (e.g., academic and non-academic settings, private and public sectors) to design surveys, analyze data, offer technical trainings, and report findings to relevant stakeholders.  

Kirsten Lesage is a sixth-year doctoral candidate in the Developmental area of the Psychology Department at the University of California, Riverside, working under the direction of Dr. Rebekah Richert. Her research interests focus on (1) the cultural evolution of how causal explanatory systems are transmitted (vertical and oblique), such as language, testimony, social learning, and rituals, (2) the emergence of explanatory worldviews in early childhood (folk, scientific, religious, supernatural), and (3) the role of the sociocultural context in the development of religious cognition and supernatural beliefs (e.g., concepts of God, prayer, supernatural causality). Presently, she is working on two main projects: (1) her dissertation examining parents’ and children’s causal explanations for biological problems across cultures (USA, Colombia, Mauritius), and (2) a longitudinal study in the lab examining children’s conceptions of prayer, supernatural beings, and causal mechanisms in four religious groups: Protestant Christian, Roman Catholic, Muslim, and Non-Affiliate. She holds a B.A. in Psychology and Spanish from Northwestern College and an M.A. in Psychology from UCR.  

Boli Reyes-Jaquez is a psychological scientist joining the DBN’s postdoctoral team at University of California, Riverside. He studies human development, with a focus on how cognitive, social, and cultural factors influence two fundamental domains of social evaluation: competence and morality. Before joining the team at UCR, he obtained a Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in 2015. After spending the next two years teaching in the Dominican Republic as a visiting scholar while fulfilling requirements of a Fulbright fellowship, he returned to the U.S. as a President’s postdoctoral research fellow at University of Minnesota, working with Dr. Melissa Koenig. His most recent work examined in different cultures children’s moral judgments of power abuse in the form of bribery; current interests include testing whether at some point in development concepts like moral fallibility (e.g., overstepping one’s authority) are deemed uniquely human, or also applicable to supernatural agents.

Project Manager

Kara Weisman studies intuitive theories and conceptual change, with a focus on folk philosophy of mind. Kara completed a B.A. in cognitive science at Yale University in 2009, and a Ph.D. in psychology at Stanford University in 2019, advised by Ellen Markman and Carol Dweck. From 2016-2020, she was one of the core researchers on the Mind and Spirit Project (funded by the Templeton Foundation, PI: T.M. Luhrmann), a long-term collaboration grounded in anthropology and psychology, which examined how understandings of the mind shape people’s spiritual experiences across diverse faiths and cultures. In her recent work, Kara has advocated for leveraging “bottom-up” statistical analyses to identify continuities and differences in concepts across groups of people, with particular attention to concepts of mental life among adults and 4- to 12-year-old children in the US, Ghana, Thailand, China, and Vanuatu. Personal website:

Project Analyst

Carole Meyer-Rieth is a graduate of the University of California at Los Angeles (BA, Psychology) with over twenty years of professional experience in academic administrative support, event planning, graphic design, and project management.  As a trustee of a private foundation since 2011, Carole is experienced in grants administration and has an ongoing role in local, national, and global philanthropy as a member of Southern California Grantmakers and the Council on Foundations.

Advisory Board 

Dr. Karen Adolph (Psychology, New York University). Dr. Karen Adolph is Professor of Psychology, Applied Psychology, and Neural Science at New York University. Dr. Adolph is an expert in perceptual-motor development. She studies how infants learn to adapt their actions to changes in their bodies and variations in the environment. Dr. Adolph developed state-of-the-art technologies to record behavior, and she developed and maintains the Datavyu tool to code behavior from video. Dr. Adolph is the director of Databrary, a web-based library for research videos and a platform to support open data sharing. In addition, Dr. Adolph is Lead Investigator on the PLAY Project, a NIH-funded collaborative research initiative with 65 researchers from 45 universities across the United States and Canada. Dr. Adolph will provide expertise specifically related to (a) the evaluation and selection of fieldsites, (b) the establishment and maintenance of international research collaborations, and (c) the development and housing of datasets and research materials in Databrary to enable open sharing.

Dr. Maureen Callanan (Psychology, University of California, Santa Cruz). Dr. Maureen Callanan is a professor of Psychology at University of California, Santa Cruz. Dr. Callanan is an expert in cross-cultural social cognitive development. Her research focuses on cognitive and language development in preschool children, exploring how children come to understand the world through everyday conversations with parents. Dr. Callanan will provide expertise specifically on (a) ensuring measures are valid within specific cultural settings, as well as able to be compared across cultural contexts and (b) naturalistic observations of socialization practices.

Dr. Rick Gilmore (Psychology, Pennsylvania State University). Dr. Rick Gilmore is Professor of Psychology and a Huck Institute of the Life Sciences Faculty Co-fund. He is an expert in the development of perception, action and memory. He is also the co-founder and co-director, along with Dr. Adolph, of the data library and Datavyu video coding tool. In addition, Dr. Gilmore is active in thinking about best practices in Open Science through his involvement of the Society for Research in Child Development’s Task Force on Scientific Integrity and Openness and through scholarly papers and presentations. Dr. Gilmore will provide expertise specifically on (a) the development of data sets in Databrary that can be shared openly and (b) ensuring the Developing Belief Network follows FAIR principles for scientific data management and stewardship.

Dr. Paul L. Harris (Harvard Graduate School of Education). Dr. Paul L. Harris is Victor S. Thomas Professor of Education at Harvard University. He is an expert in social and cognitive development. He is the author of 7 books, the most recent of which focuses on children’s selective learning from others as a source of information. Dr. Harris has received numerous awards including named Fellow of the British Academy, the Association for Psychological Science, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Harris will provide expertise specifically on (a) the establishment and maintenance of international research collaborations, (b) the selection of measures that appropriately target the research questions, and (c) the measurement of verbal, textual, and non-verbal testimony.

Dr. Deborah Kelemen (Psychological & Brain Sciences, Boston University). Dr. Deborah Kelemen is a Professor in the Department of Psychological & Brain Sciences at Boston University. Dr. Kelemen is an expert in conceptual development, with particular expertise in concepts of the artificial and natural world, conceptual constraints on intuitive, religious, and scientific theory-formation, object categorization, social learning, social cognition, moral cognition, cultural and individual differences in cognition, conceptual change, and early science education. Dr. Kelemen has a history of funding through competitions and cross-cultural networks supported by The John Templeton Foundation and will provide feedback based on that experience. Dr. Kelemen will provide expertise specifically on (a) the establishment and maintenance of international research collaborations, (b) the selection of measures that appropriately target the research questions, and (c) the measurement of implicit/intuitive cognitions.

Dr. Jacqueline D. Woolley  (Psychology, The University of Texas at Austin). Dr. Jacqueline Woolley is Professor of Psychology at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Woolley is an expert in children’s cognitive and conceptual development. Her research addresses children’s ability to make reality status judgments and both individual and developmental differences in religious cognition. Dr. Woolley will provide expertise specifically on (a) children’s conceptual development, (b) children’s religious cognition, and (c) the selection of measures to be used in addressing questions in these domains.

The Developing Belief Network is funded by The John Templeton Foundation, with additional support from the University of California, Riverside and Boston University, and involves a partnership with Databrary.

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