University of Rochester Professor Lands Spot on Forbes 30 Under 30 List

Elika Bergelson is fascinated with language. She spends all of her time working with the earliest of learners at the University of Rochester Baby Lab. “I study how baby learn words," said Bergelson.

Her studies are done through a social and visual point of view. It’s a part of the SEEDLingS Project, the Study of Environmental Effects on Developing Linguistic Skills. It’s an initiative to explain how infants' early linguistic and environmental input plays a role in their learning.

“Basically you bring babies in the lab and you test to see what they understand to see where their eye movements go through a eye tracking system,” she explained.

The research caught the eye of Forbes Magazine and landed Bergelson a spot on Forbes’s 2015 30 under 30 List.

She joins some of the biggest names in entertainment, sports, and her case science. The list highlights the brightest in 20 different fields. 

“In science research you're mostly focusing in your lab and pushing out research papers and you really don’t interface with the media out there and to get that e-mail I was shocked,” said Bergelson.

Bergelson said it all started last summer after receiving a grant award from the National Institute of Health. She said after accepting the award, she received an email amount the nomination.

“Soon after that announcement was made I got an email from Forbes saying, 'hey, you’re being considered for the 30 Under 30 and answer these questions and we will let you know from there.'"

After two more rounds of questions, Bergelson got confirmation the first week of January that she would be included in the 30 Under 30 Class of 2015.

Next for Bergelson is continued research. She’s taking things a step further and adding more technology to the study. "The new element we’re adding is we’re going into little babies houses and recording what they see from their point of view.”

Parents who are interested in participating in the SEEDLingS project can contact the lab by emailing seedlings@rochester.edu.

The 30 Under 30 issue of Forbes is available on newsstands.

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