Project Team


Project Leader

Stephen Grimm
Stephen Grimm is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Fordham University and a specialist in epistemology and the philosophy of science.  His work has appeared in journals such as Mind, the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science, Philosophy and Phenomenological Research, and Philosophical Studies. In addition to directing the Varieties of Understanding project, Prof. Grimm is working on a series of articles concerning understanding in the sciences, the humanities, and religion.

Psychology Director

Tania Lombrozo
Tania Lombrozo is Associate Professor of Psychology and Director of the Concepts and Cognition lab at the University of California, Berkeley.  She is a recent recipient of the Stanton Award from the Society for Philosophy and Psychology (2010), the James S. McDonnell Foundation Scholar Award in Understanding Human Cognition (2011), the National Science Foundation’s CAREER award (2011), and the Janet Taylor Spence Award from the Association for Psychological Science (2012).  She also writes regularly for NPR's 13.7: Cosmos and Culture blog and on Twitter.

Philosophy Director

Michael Strevens
Michael Strevens is Professor of Philosophy at New York University and a specialist in the philosophy of science and the philosophy of mind.  In addition to three books from Harvard University Press, his work has appeared in the Journal of Philosophy, Nous, Cognition, Philosophy of Science, and the British Journal for the Philosophy of Science.  Prof. Strevens is completing work on a new manuscript entitled Philosophical Inquiry, which will offer a novel account of the kind of understanding produced by the philosophical investigation of such topics as the nature of physical laws, causality, and objective probability.

Theology Director

Gordon Graham
Gordon Graham is Henry Luce III Professor of Philosophy and the Arts at Princeton Theological Seminary and a member of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. A former Stanton Lecturer at the University of Cambridge, he is the author of sixteen influential books and numerous articles.  Prof. Graham is writing a new manuscript entitled Practical Reason and Religious Understanding, which will aim to shift philosophical attention from arguments about God's existence and the meaningfulness of theological language to the older topic of religion as a mode of practical understanding.

Postdoctoral Research Associate

Michael Hannon
Michael Hannon holds a PhD in Philosophy from the University of Cambridge, where he specialized in epistemology and the philosophy of language. His work explores the roles of the concept of knowledge in human life and thought. Michael is particularly interested in why humans think and talk about knowledge, and whether – and if so, why – knowledge is more valuable than other epistemic states (e.g., understanding). He has published articles in Synthese, Erkenntnis, and Pacific Philosophical Quarterly.

Graduate Assistant

Victoria Emery
Victoria Emery works in social and political philosophy, along with hermeneutics. Her focus is on social and political applications of narrative theory, theories of autonomy, and the way that psychoanalysis contributes to our understanding of ourselves and others in the world.

Postdoctoral Scholar in Philosophy

Daniel Wilkenfeld
Daniel Wilkenfeld holds a Ph.D. in philosophy from The Ohio State University, with a focus on epistemology and the philosophy of science. His work explores the link between explanation and understanding. Daniel advocates the position that explanation is best characterized functionally by its propensity to produce understanding, and that understanding is best thought of as a representational capacity. Both views have been defended in pieces (published or forthcoming) in Synthese.

Postdoctoral Scholar in Philosophy

Thomas Blanchard
Thomas Blanchard will receive his PhD in philosophy from Rutgers University in October 2014. In the fall of 2014 he will start as an Assistant Professor at Illinois Wesleyan University and will be a postdoctoral researcher for the Varieties of Understanding project in 2015-2016. He specializes in philosophy of science and has interests in epistemology and philosophy of mind. In his dissertation, he focuses on how to reconcile the importance of causation for practical reasoning and explanation with the limited role of causal notions in physics.

Postdoctoral Scholar in Psychology

Nadya Vasilyeva
Nadya Vasilyeva received her PhD in cognitive psychology from Northeastern University (Boston). In her thesis she examined the role of explanation and selective memory retrieval in generation of context-sensitive inductive inferences. She then extended this work to investigating how flexible inductive reasoning is coordinated with explanation in development. She is interested in how different types of explanation contribute to different kinds of understanding, and how this relationship varies with context, domain-specific experience and development.

Berkeley Psychology Graduate Assistant

Caren Walker
Caren Walker is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Psychology Department at the University of California, Berkeley, working in Professor Alison Gopnik's Cognitive Development Lab and Professor Tania Lombrozo's Concepts and Cognition Lab. Her research explores how children reason about the causal structure of the world. In particular, her graduate work considers a suite of activities that impose top-down constraints on human inference, focusing on phenomena that are characteristic of learning in early childhood. She is a recent recipient of an American Psychological Foundation Fellowship, and her work has appeared in journals such as Psychological Science, Psychological Bulletin, Cognition, Child Development, and Developmental Psychology.