Lab Director

Dr. Angeline Lillard

Dr. Lillard is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia, and she is an elected Fellow of both the American Psychological Association (Division 7) and the Association for Psychological Science. She obtained her BA in English Literature from Smith College and her PhD in Psychology from Stanford University. Her primary research interests include pretend play and Montessori education, and her book, Montessori: The Science Behind the Genius received the Cognitive Development Society Book Award in 2006. Dr. Lillard is also interested in the development of theory of mind, children's executive function, children and media, neuroplasticity, contemplative practices, and culture and development.

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Dr. Lillard's Wikipedia

Lab Coordinator

Eren Fukuda

Eren is the EDL's Lab Coordinator. She grew up in Japan and Malaysia, and graduated from the University of California, San Diego with a BS in Cognitive Psychology in 2017. She is interested in children's reasoning and social cognitive development. She is also interested in how different educational curricula and materials impact children's motivation and learning outcomes.

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Postdoctoral Research Associate

Dermina Vasc

Dermina Vasc is a Postdoctoral Research Associate. She obtained her bachelor, master and PhD degrees from the Babes-Bolyai University in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, where she worked in the Developmental Psychology Lab. During her PhD she also completed a research stage at the Department of Developmental and Comparative Psychology from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology in Germany. Her PhD thesis investigated children's iconic gestural communication and pretend play. In addition to her research interests in children's gesture and pretend play, she is also interested in children's social learning and in how children enrolled in Montessori schools learn.

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Graduate Students

Sierra Eisen

Sierra is a fourth year graduate student, originally from Pinole, CA. She received her BA in Psychology with Honors from the University of California, Berkeley in 2013. Her current research focuses on how children think about and learn from interactive technologies, particularly educational apps. She is also interested in how children learn from stories and how fiction can advance children's moral development.

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Personal Website

Jessica Taggart

Jess is a fourth year graduate student, originally from Norwalk, CT. She received her BA in Psychology and English from Johns Hopkins University in 2012. She is broadly interested in our engagement with fictional worlds. Her main line of research focuses on children's interest and engagement in pretend play and real activities. Her other line of work explores whether exposure to prosocial fictional media can subsequently make children more empathetic and prosocial individuals.

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Personal Website

Ian Becker

Ian is a first year graduate student. He grew up in the Twin Cities area Minnesota where he learned to appreciate humidity, cold, and the beauty of driving past farm fields. He graduated in 2017 from Whitman College in Washington state with a BA in Psychology. Ian's research interests lie in alternative education and what can be learned about inspiring interest and motivation in education systems like Montessori and Waldorf that directly seek to make these characteristics a fundamental part of school learning.

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Collaborators

Dr. Francesc Sidera

Dr. Sidera is a Professor of Psychology at the University of Girona in Catalonia, Spain. He obtained his bachelor and PhD degrees from the same university. He is interested in children's socioemotional development, particularly, in how children come to understand people's emotions. His collaboration with the Early Development Lab is framed within a project funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness, and is aimed at studying children's implicit understanding of emotions.

Helet Botha

Helet is a Doctoral Candidate in Ethics at the Darden School of Business (UVA). She is originally from a small town in central South Africa you have never heard of! Helet completed a BA in Economics and Organizational Decision-Making; as well as an MPhil in Organizational Behavior at the University of Stellenbosch. She is interested in how pretense and experience with fictional worlds translate to (cognitive) development and performance. She also studies how children and adults recover and grow from different kinds of moral failure.

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Distinguished Majors Program

Meghan Ellwood

Meghan is a fourth year undergraduate student from Mechanicsville, Virginia majoring in Psychology. For her honors thesis, she is interested in how parent-child interaction differs during pretend play and real activities, and whether parents view pretend and real activities as having different functions and purposes.

Daniel Yonas

Daniel is a fourth year undergraduate student from Falls Church, Virginia majoring in Cognitive Science and Psychology. For his honors thesis, he is interested in how children think about morally conflicted individuals. For example, how do children perceive a person who is consistently good versus someone who struggles before deciding to do the right thing in the end?

Research Assistants

Laura Albert

Laura is a fourth year undergraduate student from Herndon, VA, majoring in Cognitive Science with a concentration in Psychology. In the lab she is working with Francesc on his study investigating young children's understanding of pretend emotions.

Sarah Chin

Sarah is a second year undergraduate student from San Jose, CA, majoring in Cognitive Science and Elementary Education. In the lab, she is working with Meghan on her study investigating parent-child interactions during pretend play and real activities.

Taelor Davis

Taelor is a second year undergraduate student from Richmond, VA, double majoring in Psychology and Cognitive Science with a concentration in Neuroscience. In the lab, she is working with Francesc on his study investigating young children's understanding of pretend emotions.

Hala Al Kallas

Hala is a fourth year undergraduate student from McLean, VA, majoring in Cognitive Science (Pre-med Track). In the lab, she is working with Jess on her studies investigating children's interest and engagement in pretend play and real activities.

Kiara Lemon

Kiara is a fourth year undergraduate student from West Orange, NJ, majoring in Psychology. In the lab, she is working with Sierra on her study investigating parent-child interactions while engaging with physical and digital spatial toys.

Griffin Perry

Griffin is a first year undergraduate student from Little Silver, New Jersey, on the Pre-Med track. In the lab, he is working with Dermina on her studies investigating imitation of models and Montessori education.

Julia Worley

Julia is a fourth year undergraduate student from Leesburg, VA, majoring in Psychology and Biology. In the lab, she is working with Dermina on her studies investigating imitation of models and Montessori education.

Florence Yan

Florence is a third year undergraduate student from Philadelphia, PA, majoring in Cognitive Science and Psychology. In the lab, she is working with Francesc on his study investigating young children's understanding of pretend emotions.

Amanda Yi

Amanda is a third year undergraduate student from Herndon, VA, majoring in Psychology and Economics. In the lab, she is working with Dermina on her studies investigating imitation of models and Montessori education.

Hyerin Yoon

Hyerin is a third year undergraduate student from Fairfax, VA, double majoring in Biochemistry and Psychology with pre-med track. In the lab, she is working with Sierra on her study investigating parent-child interactions while engaging with physical and digital spatial toys.

Living Laboratory Volunteers

Madhumita Napa

Madhu is a second year undergraduate student from Ashburn, VA, majoring in Biology with a Latin minor. At Living Lab, she is helping with a variety of projects investigating how children think and learn about the world.

Lab Alumni

Meet our Lab Alumni

Meet our Research Assistant Alumni

Meet our Summer Internship Alumni