PhD candidate examines the developmental origin of economic reasoning

Claudia Sehl

PhD Candidate | Psychology

Only halfway through her doctoral program, Claudia Sehl has already presented her research at conferences across North America, had her work published in prestigious journals, and won national scholarship competitions. A PhD candidate in psychology, Claudia’s research in cognitive development focuses on exploring how children acquire economic concepts such as costs and benefits, efficiency, and waste.

“Discovering the foundations of how people think and reason about the world contributes to our knowledge of how people make decisions and have preferences. This research is foundational to understanding how people make personal, financial, social, economic, corporate, and everyday judgements.”

Claudia began her post-secondary studies at the University of Western Ontario where she completed her bachelor’s degree in psychology and philosophy. After a guest lecture from a developmental psychologist at her undergraduate university, Claudia’s intrigue in developmental research was sparked. With offers from institutions across the country, Claudia had her pick of graduate programs and ultimately decided on psychology at the University of Waterloo.

I was drawn to psychology at Waterloo because of the outstanding faculty. Waterloo has strong researchers who publish in top-tier journals, secure large funding, and have impactful findings. And though we have a world-class department, there is still a strong sense of community and support among our faculty and students.

Claudia Sehl, PhD Candidate

Claudia Sehl
Along with Waterloo's world-class researchers, Claudia was also interested in the Master of Applied Science in Development and Communication, a psychology program that is unique to Waterloo. “This program offered opportunities that weren’t available at other institutions,” says Claudia. “The MASc offers an internship with a community partner which allows students to explore research in an applied setting, and the courses allow students to develop a strong foundation of knowledge about child development, advanced statistics, and psychology overall.” 

After completing her MASc in 2020, Claudia chose to continue into the PhD program and acknowledges that her supervisors, Dr. Ori Friedman and Dr. Stephanie Denison, have been instrumental in her success throughout her graduate career. “Ori and Stephanie are fantastic duo to work with and I have a profound respect for them. They have helped guide me through every step my research; developing research questions, testing stimuli, data analysis, and publishing papers. We celebrate my successes and work through challenges together. I feel very lucky to work with them.”

With a doctoral degree from Waterloo, Claudia knows that she’s well-positioned to take advantage of a variety of opportunities after graduation. “A psychology degree is versatile, and my PhD from Waterloo will prepare me for a career inside or outside of academia. I’m gaining experience in research and teaching, but I’m also fostering skills in communication, writing, problem-solving, and data analysis – all of which are in demand in the workforce.” Regardless of which avenue Claudia decides to pursue after graduation, she knows she'll have the skills she's learned at Waterloo to help her succeed.

Interested in studying psychology at Waterloo? Learn more about how to apply