profile picture

Laura L

- Research Program Mentor

PhD at Harvard University


Evolutionary Anthropology, Developmental and Comparative Psychology


I am originally from Berkeley, California, and growing up I fell in love with the wonderful nature around me in the Bay Area. I moved to Duke University for my undergraduate studies, where I quickly joined a lab that studied the social psychology of lemurs, dogs, chimpanzees, and bonobos. After conducting touch screen research with chimpanzees for 3 years, I moved to Harvard to pursue a PhD exploring the evolution of social cognition in great apes, and have been studying chimpanzees and bonobos ever since! I have also been a TA for two courses in Psychology, and mentored four undergraduate students at Harvard. I'm now working as a postdoc at UC Berkeley, studying how great apes and children have evolved to understand emotion! I am super passionate about a healthy work-life balance, and in my free time I love to go backpacking in the mountains, swim in the ocean, and make small ceramic pots on the wheel. I love running, dancing, cooking, and spending time with good friends.

Project ideas

Project ideas are meant to help inspire student thinking about their own project. Students are in the driver seat of their research and are free to use any or none of the ideas shared by their mentors.

The Primate Classroom: Who do primates choose to learn from?

Growing up in a large and complex social group requires primates to learn a lot -- and fast. This study seeks to explore whether primates prefer to learn from some individuals over others by reviewing the literature on experimental studies with both captive and wild primates, as well as potentially coding videos of primates making choices in a fun experiment.

Coding skills


Languages I know

Spanish intermediate

Teaching experience

I have been a teaching assistant for two courses in Psychology Dept at Harvard University: The Science of Happiness and Psychology 101. I was also a mentor to two Harvard undergraduate students through the Greener Scott Scholars Mentorship Program during my PhD. I have been a guest instructor in numerous university, high school, and early education classrooms.


Work experience

SMASH Academy (2017 - Current)
Alumni Board Manager


Duke University
BS Bachelor of Science (2016)
Biology, Evolutionary Anthropology
Harvard University
MA Master of Arts (2018)
Human Evolutionary Biology
Harvard University
PhD Doctor of Philosophy (2022)
Human Evolutionary Biology

Completed Projects

Interested in working with expert mentors like Laura?

Apply now