Michael C. Frank, Ph.D.

Michael Frank


Cognitive Science Society


Michael C. Frank, Ph.D.

Stanford University

"How Do Young Children Learn Language? With Statistics"

Dr. Michael Frank’s research is at the cross-section of experimental and computational approaches to development, with a focus on language and cognition. His general approach is to use large-n studies to examine specific cognitive and linguistic abilities that he then compares to model results from a Bayesian framework perspective. Dr. Frank has made theoretical contributions in early visual development by looking at how infants examine faces, math learning using experimental and interventional approaches, cross-cultural studies involving largely un-westernized populations (e.g. the Piraha), a long line of work on pragmatic inference in infancy and childhood, and a set of studies on children and adult’s word learning.

Dr. Frank begun his research career with two separate PhD Fellowships, one each from NSF and the Javits Foundation. After finishing his PhD in four years, he became a faculty member in the Department of Psychology at Stanford University. His research contributions have been incredibly broad, resulting in over 50 peer-reviewed journal publications to date, and over 100 including proceedings and chapters.

Dr. Frank has helped move the science forward in several large efforts focused on methods, reproducibility, and replicability. He has conducted several studies with hundreds of participants by testing outside the lab in a museum setting. He and his team created Wordbank, an open database of information about children’s vocabulary growth, using the Macarthur-Bates Communicative Development Inventory. Dr. Frank has also contributed to the Open Science Collaboration, a meta-analysis project called ‘Metalab’, and has recently started a replicability project called ManyBabies.

Dr. Frank’s research has been featured in a number of public forums. His work on using a mental abacus was reported by Discover Magazine Online, New Scientist and Times of India. Other work on pragmatic reasoning in language games was featured on Science Daily, Wired Magazine. In addition, his discussion on the reproducibility of science received a great deal of media attention being covered by major news outlets such as the New York Times, Washington Post, Nature, Science, The Atlantic and NPR.

Dr. Frank is an associate professor of psychology at Stanford University and earned his doctorate in brain and cognitive sciences from MIT.