Dhara Yu


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I am a first-year PhD student in Psychology at UC Berkeley, advised by Bill Thompson. I am supported by a Berkeley Chancellor’s Fellowship.

I am interested in the computational foundations of social cognition: what are the cognitive algorithms that shape belief formation and collective decision-making? I believe that gaining a richer understanding of these topics has the potential to help us address pressing societal challenges, including the climate crisis. Ultimately, I hope to apply foundational insights about cognition and behavior to develop more effective interventions for climate action.

Before my PhD, I spent a year at an early-stage climate tech startup, where I wore several hats (data science, software engineering, protein biochemistry) to help develop sustainable alternatives to animal agriculture.

Before that, I earned a BS in Symbolic Systems and an MS in Computer Science from Stanford, where I worked with Noah Goodman in the CoCoLab and Judith Degen in the ALPS Lab.


Yu, D., Goodman, N.D., and Mu, J. (2023). Characterizing tradeoffs between teaching via language and demonstrations in multi-agent systems. In Proceedings of the 45th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. [paper] [code]

Yu, D., Waldon, B., and Degen, J. (2023). The cross-linguistic order of adjectives and nouns may be the result of iterated pragmatic pressures on referential communication. In Proceedings of the 45th Annual Meeting of the Cognitive Science Society. [paper] [code]

Yu, D., Mu., J, and Goodman, N.D. (2022). Emergent Covert Signaling in Adversarial Reference Games. In 5th Workshop on Emergent Communication at ICLR 2022. [paper]

Mankewitz, J., Boyce, V., Waldon, B., Loukatou, G., Yu, D., Mu, J., Goodman, N.D., and Frank, M.C. (2021). Multi-party Referential Communication in Complex Strategic Games. In Meaning in Context Workshop at NeurIPS 2021. [paper]