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Daniela O’Neill


University of Waterloo

Research Themes: 

The Communicating Mind and Body

Daniela O’Neill is a professor of Developmental Psychology at the University of Waterloo where she directs the Children’s Communication Lab. In her lab, she and her students have undertaken studies relating to the development of children’s early social (pragmatic) communication and its assessment during the toddler and preschool years, gesture use and understanding, peer-to-peer conversation, early parent-child conversations around picture books and toys, and children’s storytelling and ability to “step into the shoes” of story characters via mental models created while listening to stories. She and her students are increasingly engaged in community outreach via her lab’s Talk2Thrive activities which aim to help foster children’s communicative development in everyday settings.

She is the developer of the Language Use Inventory (LUI), a standardized parent-report assessment of children’s early pragmatic language development used by speech-language pathologists and researchers around the world. Over 15 translations of the LUI are underway.

Her research has been funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research and a Premier’s Research Excellence Award. She received her BSc from the University of Toronto and her Ph.D from Stanford University.

Research Interests: social pragmatic language development and assessment, parent-child and peer-to-peer conversation in everyday settings and activities, toddlers’ and preschoolers’ social cognition, storytelling and story comprehension, knowledge translation and dissemination