DREU at UC Boulder

The Program

"Distributed Research Experiences for Undergraduates" (DREU) funds underrepresented groups entering graduate studies in computer science and engineering. During the summer of 2011, I (Kyla Cheung) got the chance through DREU to go to University of Colorado, Boulder and conduct research in computer and cognitive science under the mentorship of Eliana Colunga. This website documents the experience I had there.

The Project


  • Behavioral Project: Explore how words come to represent categories

Behavioral Description:

The behavioral aspect of my project was to assist a series of experiments testing how words became privileged sounds (in comparison to non-linguistic sounds, like animal or vehicle noises). In other words, we sought to explore the question of how children elevated certain sounds to a linguistic status. How can words come to represent objects, instead of remaining a sound that merely correlates with an object's presence?

  • Modeling Project: Use Emergent to model how bilingual children achieve literacy in two languages

Modeling Description:

The modeling aspect of my project was built off of existing models of reading aloud; I wanted to model how children became (or didn't become) bilingually literate. Children who enter school with the expectation of learning to both read and speak a new language often fall behind their peers who have learnt the spoken language in the home. We can better address their problems if we can locate the source of trouble. Is the issue that these children must first learn to speak the second language? Or is the greater issue that they have not yet understood the semantic relationship between the spoken and written word?

The People

Mentor: Eliana Colunga

University of Colorado, Boulder
Department of Psychology
Computer Science Department
Institute of Cognitive Science
Main Research: Language learning using both empirical and computational approaches

Mentee: Kyla Cheung

Columbia University
Rising Junior, Columbia College '13
Computer Science and Creative Writing

Fellow Mentee: Elizabeth Shay

University of Pennsylvania
Rising Sophomore, SEAS '14
Cognitive Science & Computer Science
DREU Website