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Susan Geffen

Susan Geffen

Assistant Professor, Undergraduate Psychology

Office: (909) 448-1571
Hoover Building 222

Assistant Professor of Psychology; received her Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Southern California in 2014. Her research interests are broadly focused on the developmental progression of language acquisition and development, and the accompanying cognitive skills. She is the Director of the ULV Language and Cognition Lab, which explores the types of information infants, children and adults use to make categorical distinctions at both the sentence (e.g. statement vs. question) and word level (e.g. function [a, the] vs. content word [man, running]). More recently, she has begun to expand her research to look at second language acquisition and development, evaluating ESL Learners’ ability to transfer sentence-type discrimination ability from their first to their second (or later) language. An additional line of research focuses on evaluating the influence of multimodal information (e.g., visual and auditory cues) on language and cognition, including the ability to pay attention to one stimulus (e.g. visual) while ignoring another (e.g. auditory). She teaches courses in the areas of: Principles of Psychology, Lifespan Development, Research Methods and Experimental Psychology. Dr. Geffen is designated as core undergraduate faculty.

In her free time, Dr. Geffen is an avid reader of fantasy, mystery, YA novels (and anything else she can get her hands on). She enjoys attending concerts and classic films. She is also an avid swing dancer.

Educational Background

  • Ph.D. in Psychology, USC
  • M.A. in Psychology, USC


Representative Publications

  • Geffen, S. & Mintz, T. (2017). Prosodic differences between declaratives and interrogatives in infant-directed speech.  Journal of Child Language, 44(4), 968-994.
  • Geffen, S., & Mintz, T. (2015). Can you believe it? 12-month-olds use word order to distinguish between declaratives and polar interrogatives. Language Learning and Development, 11, 270-284.

Professional Presentations

  • Geffen, S. (2019, May). Beyond the babble: The science of studying babies and children. Paper presented at the 9th Annual Psi Chi Student Research Conference, La Verne, California.
  • Allison, C. & Geffen, S. (2019, April). The use of intonation in differentiating English statements and questions among English second language learners. Poster presented at the 2019 Western Psychological Association conference (WPA), Pasadena, California.
  • Chiang, C., Geffen, S., & Mintz, T. (2017, November). Distinguishing questions and statements using sentence-initial prosodic cues. Poster presented at the 2017 Boston University Conference on Language Development (BUCLD), Boston, Massachusetts.
  • Geffen, S., Curtin, S., & Graham, S. (2017, April). Do infants distinguish between statements and questions using audiovisual information? Poster presented at the 2017 Society for Research on Child Development Biennial Meeting, Austin, Texas.
  • Geffen, S., Curtin, S., & Graham, S. (2017, April). Twelve-month-olds’ phonological knowledge of word forms constrains new mappings. Poster presented at the 2017 Society for Research on Child Development Biennial Meeting, Austin, Texas.