Jess Mankewitz

/^J(ay|(ess(ie|ica)?)) Mankewitz/

Hi! I’m Jess and I’m the current Lab Manager for the Language and Cognition Lab at Stanford University. I graduated from UC Berkeley in 2020 with a B.A. in Cognitive Science. As an undergrad, I worked as an RA with Prof. Mahesh Srinivasan and Dr. Stephan Meylan in the Language and Cognitive Development Lab.

Note: I’m applying to graduate school in the 2021-2022 application cycle. If you are a member of an under-represented group in cognitive science or psychology and feel that a conversation about applications or post-bacc research would be helpful for you, please reach out!

Research Interest

I’m most excited when studying how humans learn to communicate and interact with one another. I’m also curious about how words and meanings are generated and how they shift and evolve through communication. Broadly, I’m interested in the intersection between semantics, pragmatics, and the acquisition of the two. I like to approach these questions with computational models, cleverly designed experiments, and publicly available resources and datasets.

I have two primary lines of active work: 1) exploring communicative acts in complex coordination and communication games and 2) the prevalence of lexical ambiguity or colexification in child contexts. I hope both of these directions will help us better understand how and why we use language the way we do.

Some Facts About Me

  • I accept they/them and she/her pronouns. This means I am comfortable being referred to with either set of pronouns, and appreciate a mix of the two. For example you can say “Jess is cool; I heard they’re from LA! She was just complaining about the traffic.” (If you’d like more information about using multiple sets of pronouns, check out this great article by Kirby Conrod!)
  • I’m a first-generation college student. I’ve also struggled with housing insecurity and financial sparsity. Before I was a researcher, I was a babysitter, an IT consultant, a dog trainer, a teacher-in-training, and, briefly, an aspiring astrobiologist. I’m proud of my varied background and am happy to chat about it!
  • I have ADHD and Generalized Anxiety Disorder. I consider myself disabled and my neurodivergence informs much of what I choose to study.
  • When I’m not staring at the computer, I’m usually knitting, cross stitching, bookbinding, printmaking, or picking up a new hobby of the month. I like to say I’m a “Jack of all trades, master of one or two.”


I am most proud of the work I’ve done in collaboration with others. Science is inherently collaborative, and my experience has been no exception. These days, I work most frequently and closely with Michael C. Frank, Virginia Marchman, George Kachergis, Mika Braginsky, Stephan Meylan, Sammy Floyd, Hugh Rabagliati, Mahesh Srinivasan, and Sathvik Nair

Other Good Things