bethany 2014

Young Investigator


bethany ojalehto is a graduate student in Cognitive Psychology at Northwestern University. Her research explores how people conceptualize agency and ecologies, with a focus on cultural variation in concepts of nonhuman beings (plants, animals, and other natural kinds) and human relationships with their environments. She has been fortunate to develop these research perspectives through visits to an indigenous Ngöbe community of Panama, where she has collaborated in research and cultural education projects since 2010. Her work with advisors Douglas Medin and Sandra Waxman has appeared in Trends in Cognitive Sciences and the Annual Review of Psychology. Prior to her work in Panama, she conducted cognitive research in a Kenyan refugee camp, and joined refugee journalists in advocating for freedom of speech in those camps ( She received her B.Sc. in psychology and human rights from Cornell University’s College of Human Ecology in 2008, and her M.Sc. in Cognitive Psychology from Northwestern University in 2012. These various endeavors have been supported by the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, the Foundation for Endangered Languages, the National Science Foundation, a Fulbright Fellowship, and Northwestern and Cornell Universities.