Stephen Ferrigno – Information for Prospective Graduate Students

Dr. Stephen Ferrigno – Information for Prospective Graduate Students


Current research:

Our lab investigates the developmental, evolutionary, and cultural origins of human concepts such as numbers, sequences, objects, and logical concepts. We use child developmental and comparative primate research methods. Our website lists recent publications and presentations which provide a good introduction to our labs current work. We are currently looking for graduate students to join either the child development side of the lab, the comparative primate side, or potentially a combination of both.

Communication Prior to Applying:

I suggest that prospective students who are planning to apply to my lab send an email to touch base and potentially set up a video call with me (time permitting). The way to schedule such a call is to email me at Although I am willing to talk to prospective students before they apply, this is not a requirement. I don’t privilege or prioritize applications from prospective students who have contacted me prior to applying or who have had a video call with me. If you have questions about completing/submitting the UW Madison Psychology Department application itself, the best person to contact is our graduate coordinator,

Areas I’m Willing to Advise Students in:

Developmental; Biology of Brain and Behavior; Cognition & Cognitive Neuroscience;  or Individualized Graduate Major. It is not uncommon for students to be in multiple area groups or to change area groups during their graduate training. If you are admitted, we will discuss which area group is the best fit for your training needs and interests. I do not advise students in the Clinical program.

How I Evaluate Applicants:

Like all faculty members in the Psychology Department, I evaluate prospective graduate students in a holistic manner. I therefore consider all the possible ways in which students’ applications materials can demonstrate excellence and a strong likelihood to thrive in the graduate program and in my lab.  As such, the information below should be treated as general rules of thumb rather than a highly proscriptive “checklist” of attributes that candidates must have in order to be considered for admittance to my lab.

  • Research preparation: We highly value previous research experience, such as research assistantships, independent research projects, and senior thesis. Additionally, experience with either child developmental research methods OR comparative primate research methods (depending on the side of the lab you hope to join) would be highly beneficial. Additionally, because the lab uses computerized testing, experience with programming (R, Python, etc.) is a plus.
  • Academic preparation: We do not use a hard cutoff for GPA. However, we do consider applicants prior academic achievement including course grades, relevance, and difficulty.
  • Personal statement: In your personal statement, I would hope to get a good sense of your previous research experience, motivation for pursuing graduate school in Psychology, and why you hope to conduct research in this lab in particular.

Other Information for Prospective Applicants:

I am happy to serve as the sole/primary mentor for graduate students, but I would also be very open to co-advising students within and across area groups.