Meet the LearnLabbies




Dr. Ji Son, Lab Director

Ji Son

Dr. Son is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology. Her research focuses on how people learn and generalize their learning to new situations. The central idea behind her work is that learning changes the way we SEE the world! Many of the studies in the Learning Lab examines the role of perception in how students and young children learn abstract ideas, such as math and science. Area: Cognitive development, category learning, perceptual learning, learning and transfer.

Caylor Davis, Post-Graduate Researcher

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I am a recent graduate of the CSULA Psychology MA program, and received my BA in Linguistics and Psychology from UCLA. My research interests lie at the intersection of language, gesture, and cognition. More particularly, I am interested in the ways spatial language may impact the way we learn abstract concepts or form spatial categorizations. I approach research questions related to these ideas through the framework of embodied cognition theories, in hopes of furthering our understanding of mind-body learning interactions. I am also a lecturer here at CSULA, and particularly enjoy teaching statistics and investigating instructional methods that can improve student learning outcomes.

Alyssa Lawson, Graduate Student

Alyssa Lawson

My name is Alyssa Lawson, and I am a graduate student in the Psychology MA program. I received my BA in Psychology from Chapman University. The field of cognitive psychology that interests me most is learning and memory. My research revolves around how different kinds of explanation enhance learning outcomes. I am currently running a study on conceptual explanations and their effect on understanding statistics problems. When I am not busy with school, research, or work, I like to watch Criminal Minds, since it is the show that helped develop my interest in psychology.

Kolya Ludwig, Graduate Student

Kolya Ludwig

I am a student in the master of arts program (MA) here at Cal State LA. My main interests in psychology are in the social and cognitive areas of research. I am originally from Seattle, and got my bachelors degree from New York University. I moved to Los Angeles in 2015, and got started with the Learning Lab's after school project. I am currently taking classes in experimental methods, psychopharmacology, and multicultural psychology.

Brittany Ayalya, MORE RISE Scholar

Brittany Ayala

My name is Brittany Ayala, I am currently an Undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Ji's Learning Lab and a student in the MORE program at CalStateLA. So far my research interests have consisted of investigating the role of directed action on memorization in online lecture videos. Besides being an Undergraduate researcher, I am also a member of the co-ed National Service Fraternity of Alpha Phi Omega and the Golden Key International Honor Society.

Lily Nguyen, Honors Student

Lily Nguyen

My name is Lily Nguyen and I am an undergraduate student studying biochemistry. I am fascinated by neuroscience and how our actions can be boiled down to a multitude of electrochemical signals in the brain firing in specific patterns. In this lab, I get to study students' performance in chemistry in the hopes to possibly shape how chemistry education. In my spare time, I like to watch TV shows, hang out with my cat Oliver, and listen to music.

Melissa Benavides, RA


Hello! My name is Melissa Benavides and I am currently an undergraduate student pursuing a BA in Psychology. I am currently involved in research that examines the progression of English language learner (ELL) students over the course of the school year. As a psychology major, I am interested in understanding people's behavioral motives and I am interested in understanding and analyzing the circumstances that permit an effective learning experience for children in school. Aside from school, I love to spend my free time watching crime shows and documentaries and seeing my favorite artists/bands (OneRepublic, Demi Lovato, etc!) in concert.

Amanda Rico, RA


Hello, my name is Amanda Rico and I'm a college student at California State University Los Angeles. As a psychology major, I aspire to graduate and aim for a masters degree in either school or clinical psychology. The human mind and the ability to help others, with tools as simple as words, has always interested me. Hopefully our learning lab might give others insight and help further better their lives and studies! 

Destiny Rodriguez, RA


Young lady with dark hair smiling.



I am an undergraduate student who will be graduating with a BA in Psychology this Spring 2018. I have an AA in Psychology, in Social and Behavioral Studies, and in Arts & Humanities. Currently, I assist Alyssa Lawson (graduate researcher) in her research projects, which are focused on variety of learning concepts. My career interest is to obtain a MA in Marriage and Family Therapy, and my aim is to utilize music as a therapeutic technique. I have a passion for the Arts, so when the opportunity arises I enjoy playing and listening to music, watching movies or seeing plays, and viewing the many forms of art that embodies our world.


Arineh Mirinjian, RA

Photo of woman smiling

My name is Arineh Mirinjian, and I am an undergraduate research assistant at the Learning Lab. I am currently working on my B.A. in Psychology and I am planning on staying at CSULA for my M.A. in General Psychology and hopefully then apply to Ph.D. programs in Cognitive Psychology. My research interests involve ways to enhance human performance, such as learning through technology. My other interests include computational thinking, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. Some of the projects that I’m currently involved with include the effect of various forms of explanations on students’ learning of math and other concepts and a university-wide study that aims to find ways to encourage students’ use of CSULA resources and its potential outcome on their academic success. 

Ana Leandro-Ramos, RA

Photo of a young women with hair in a bun, holding a large purse with a green landscape behind her.

I am an undergraduate student pursuing a BA in Psychology. I became interested in clinical, developmental, and cognitive psychology because it amazes me how our brains control our behaviors, thoughts, and feelings. As a research assistant I see the importance in conducting research in learning and education to help future generations succeed. I plan to expand my knowledge by furthering my education with graduate school and after earn my doctorate degree.

Erika Barroso-Gomez, RA

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My name is Erika and I am currently an undergraduate student pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Psychology, hopefully graduating on the Fall of 2018. After graduating my next academic goal is to obtain an MS in Counseling through the School Psychology program here at Cal State LA. My current research interests include determining what is the most effective way people learn and what keeps people from being motivated to learn. I am interested in these concepts because I want to acquire the skills to be able to develop effective learning techniques and strategies to apply them in my future career, and that is becoming a middle school teacher.

Isaac Salgado, RA

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Hello, my name is Isaac Salgado and I am an undergraduate at California State University Los Angeles. I am currently obtaining my bachelor degree in psychology with the hopes of becoming a market research analyst. I am learning to use statistics to apply to many kinds of research and would like to obtain a master’s as well in statistics in the near future. Dr. Ji’s learning lab is helping me to pursue my career goals as well gain experience in a research lab setting. I believe the learning lab is a great environment for learning skills that can help anyone who joins!



Students who have worked with Dr. Ji in the past:

Mariela Rivas Ph.D., Graduate student @ UCI, class of 2020

Cynthia Alarcon Ph.D., Graduate student @ University of Texas, Austin, class of 2020

Donna Chen Ph.D., Graduate student @ University of Nebraska, class of 2020

Yu Zhang Ph.D., Graduate student @ UC Santa Cruz, class of 2019

Craig Terasawa M.S.W., Graduate student @ Azusa Pacific University, class of 2014

Phoutdavone "Noy" Phimphasone Ph.D., Graduate student @ UNC, Charlotte, class of 2016

Katerina Schenke Ph.D., Graduate student @ UCI, class of 2015

K.P. Thai Ph.D., Age of Learning

Stacy Einikis M.A., Graduate student @ Adler School of Professional Psychology, class of 2010

Michelle Leslie Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist

Megan Haselschwerdt Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Human Development, Auburn University