Universiteit Leiden

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Tessa Verhoef

Assistant professor

Dr. T. Verhoef
+31 71 527 7903

Tessa Verhoef is Assistant Professor at the Leiden Institute of Advanced Computer Science (LIACS). She leads the Emergent Communication Group and co-founded the Creative Intelligence Lab (CIL). Her research is highly interdisciplinary and lies at the intersection of language, cognition, cultural evolution and computation. Besides this, she is a member of the interdisciplinary research programme Society, Artificial Intelligence and Life Sciences (SAILS).

More information about Tessa Verhoef

Tessa Verhoef studies how linguistic structure evolves using experiments with human participants and computer models. The central question in most of her work is how cognitive biases interact with cultural evolution mechanisms (i.e., interaction between individuals and transmission across generations) to shape the structures we see in human languages. With her team, she develops novel methods to study emerging communication systems in the lab as well as with computational agents. Most AI language models are trained through exposure to large amounts of data. However, human language evolved in a much more dynamic setting. Using our knowledge of human language evolution, her aim is to improve the human likeness of neural-agent language simulations.

Besides developing and running studies in the lab, she designs live exhibits to bring scientific questions, experiments and lectures to museums and festivals (for instance at Lowlands Science and Science Center Nemo). In addition, Tessa actively collaborates with researchers of various other faculties within Leiden University (Social and Behavioral Sciences, Humanities, Law) and other universities (University of Groningen, UC San Diego, UC Merced).

Before joining Leiden University, Tessa was a postdoc at the University of California, San Diego, where she conducted her NWO Rubicon research at the Center for Research in Language (CRL) and became a Frontiers of Innovation Scholars Program (FISP) fellow at the departments of Communication and Electrical and Computer Engineering. She has a BSc and MSc in Artificial Intelligence, and obtained her PhD in Language Evolution at the University of Amsterdam.

Personal website.

Assistant professor

  • Science
  • Leiden Inst of Advanced Computer Science

Work address

Gorlaeus Building
Einsteinweg 55
2333 CC Leiden
Room number BE3.08



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