Lab director

Rachel Wu, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor

Dr. Wu received two Bachelor’s degrees from Carnegie Mellon University, a Masters from University College London, and a PhD from Birkbeck, University of London. She also has a Fine Arts degree from Middlesex University. Dr. Wu’s research focuses on learning and attention to maximize cognitive agility from infancy to aging adulthood. In her free time, she paints, sculpts, plays the violin and piano, and sings. [CV]


Annie Ditta, Ph.D.

Annie received her Ph.D. dissertation from the University of California, Santa Cruz, and is currently working as a postdoc in the CALLA Lab. She will be starting a faculty position at UC Riverside Fall 2019. Annie’s research investigates the interplay between memory and creativity, particularly how people are able to produce new ideas and avoid getting fixated on old or unhelpful ones. Annie plans to use her knowledge of fixation and experience teaching at the undergraduate level to help inform studies of undergraduate learning, with the ultimate goal of designing better methods of instruction for large lecture courses at universities. In her spare time, Annie enjoys watching TV, playing challenging video games, and making color-coded to-do lists in Excel.

Graduate students

Shirley Leanos

Shirley graduated from UCR in 2015 with a BA in Psychology and Political Science. Her research interests include investigating the relationship between cognitive aging and neurodegenerative diseases. In her free time, she likes to read novels, go to Disneyland, play with her dog, Lady, and spend time with her family.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Miranda Felix

Miranda is majoring in Biology and helps conduct research with aging adults. She hopes to attend graduate school in Psychology in the future.

Hara Yum

Hara is a sophomore at UC Riverside majoring in psychology. She is interested in areas of cognitive and industrial psychology but also hopes to explore developmental psychology as well. In her spare time, Hara likes to eat Chipotle, look into graduate school requirements, or cry about how much she needs to save to buy herself a Disney annual pass.

Mary Kim Clay

Mary is a Psychology major at UCR, interested in neuroscience, as well as social, cognitive, abnormal, and developmental psychology. In her free time, she enjoys golfing, painting, reading, and supporting charities for The Lost Generations Foundation.

Gianhu Nguyen

Gianhu is majoring in biochemistry and minoring in education. She is interested in exploring different aspects of psychology and its various applications. Aside from being a zumba enthusiast, Gianhu also enjoys trying new dessert places, napping, going on hikes, and watching criminal investigation shows in her free time.

Alex Duong

Alex is majoring in Psychology and enjoys all aspects of it. He also wants to gain a better understanding of its many applications. In his free time, he enjoys going for walks, reading biographies, swimming, and playing tennis.

Elizabeth Fletes

Elizabeth is majoring in Biology and is interested in cognitive neuroscience as well as developmental psychology. Aside from being a devotee of romantic comedy movies, Elizabeth enjoys trying new trendy foods, dancing, playing the piano, and baking.  

Leah Ferguson

Leah graduated from CSU Monterey Bay in 2017 with a BA in Psychology. Her interests vary from neurodegenerative diseases to social psychology and social stigmas. She wishes to pursue graduate school for Sociology with an emphasis in Criminology, contributing research on social reform and reentry processes in order to improve life after prison and reduce recidivism rates. In her spare time she likes to go to the park or hike with her lab, Cali, drink coffee, read new books, and cross stitch.

Crystal Leigh

Crystal is majoring in English and minoring in education. Her research interests include the relationships between developmental psychology and education, but she enjoys learning about other fields as well. In the future, she hopes to attend UC Riverside’s Graduate School of Education to obtain her master’s degree in School Psychology or Neuroscience and Education. She also enjoys photography, dogs, and hiking.


Christine Dang

Christine is a fourth year psychology major. She is interested in cognitive psychology and developmental psychology. In the future, she wishes to become a school/educational psychologist. In her free time, Christine enjoys lifting weights at the gym, listening to rock music, learning to play the guitar, and watching mystery shows.

Zoë Warren

Zoë is a psychology major at UC Riverside. Her areas of interest are educational and perceptual psychology. She hopes to attend graduate school in the future. In her spare time, Zoë likes to get coffee, watch crime tv, and nap with her dog, Zeus.