Katharine Graf Estes

portrait of Katharine

Position Title
Associate Professor

Suite 250, Room 233
202 Cousteau Place, Davis CA 95618


  • Ph.D., Psychology, University of Wisconsin
  • B.A., Psychology, Indiana University


In addition to her academic appointment in Psychology, Katharine Graf Estes is a faculty member in the Center for Mind and Brain.

Research Focus

Infants are immersed in a world of immense complexity, yet they display knowledge of the people, objects, actions, and sounds in their environments very early in life. Professor Graf Estes’ research explores the mechanisms that support this early learning. In particular, the ability to detect statistical regularities may play a fundamental role in how infants learn about a highly complex, highly salient aspect of the auditory world: language. Infants become especially attuned to regularities in the sound patterns of the ambient language, including its phoneme distinctions, sound combinations within words, and its cues to word boundaries in fluent speech. Thus, when infants begin to understand and produce words, they do not start as blank slates. She investigates how infants learn from statistical regularities in the language they hear and the nature of what they learn.




  • Graf Estes, K., Antovich, D.*, & Verde, E.* (In Press) Selectivity in bilingual nonspeech label learning. Journal of Child Language.Antovich, D. M.*, & Graf Estes, K. (2020). One language or two? Navigating cross-language conflict in statistical word segmentation. Developmental Science, e12960.
  • Antovich, D. M.*, Gluck, S. C. W.**, Goldman, E. J.**, & Graf Estes, K. (2020) Specificity of representations in infants’ visual statistical learning. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 193: 104772.
  • Graf Estes, K., Antovich, D. M.*, & Hay, J. F. (2018) Intersecting constraints on label learning:Effects of age, label properties, and referential context. Journal of Cognition and Development, 19(5): 532-551.
  • Antovich, D., M.*, & Graf Estes, K. (2017). Learning across languages: bilingual experience supports dual language statistical word segmentation. Developmental Science, 21(2), e12548.
  • Barry, R.A.*, Graf Estes, K., Rivera, S.M., & Burris, J.* (2017). Caregivers and strangers: The influence of familiarity on gaze following and label learning. Infant Behavior and Development, 46, 46-58.
  • Graf Estes, K., Gluck, S. C.**, Bastos, C.**, & Grimm, K. J. (2016). Finding patterns and learning words: Infants’ phonotactic knowledge is associated with vocabulary size. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 146, 34-39.
  • Graf Estes, K. & Lew-Williams, C. (2015). Listening through voices: Infant statistical word segmentation across multiple speakers. Developmental Psychology, 15, 1517-1528.
  • Graf Estes, K. & Hay, J. F. (2015). Flexibility in bilingual infants’ word learning. Child Development, 8(5), 1371-1385.



*graduate student **undergraduate student collaborators


Professor Graf Estes currently teaches courses in Developmental Psychology and Cognitive Development.


2021 College of Letters & Science Award for Distinguished Teaching

2015 Social Sciences Dean’s Innovation Award, University of California, Davis

2013 Young Alumni Award, Indiana University