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Lab Researchers


Graduate Students


Ashley Ezpeleta is a third-year doctoral student in the Human Development area within the Department of Educational Psychology working with Dr. Haley Vlach in the Learning, Cognition, and Development Lab. Before starting graduate school, Ashley attended Miami University and received her B. A. in Psychology and a minor in Linguistics. She was also the lab manager for Dr. Edward Hubbard’s Educational Neuroscience Lab (also here at UW). Ashley’s current research interests lie in understanding how lower (e.g. biological)- and higher (e.g. meta)- memory processes influence young children’s language learning, with the goal of applying her work to educational settings.


Melina Knabe is a seventh-year Ph.D. student in the Human Development area of the Department of Educational Psychology. Melina received her B.S. in Neuroscience from Washington and Lee University in 2017. Her research investigates the cognitive processes that support early word learning in single- and dual-language learners. Specifically, she studies how desirable difficulties can optimize children’s long-term retention of worlds in the context of educational materials. Melina is being advised by Dr. Haley Vlach.


Samantha Macksey is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Human Development area of the Department of Educational Psychology. Samantha received her B.A. in Psychology and a minor in Mathematical Modeling of Complex Systems from Northeastern Illinois University in 2023. Her research interests involve the examination of how children’s understanding of science and math can predict how likely they are to go into STEM careers. Also, to navigate mechanisms driving acquisition of math and science understanding which is essential for increasing the capacity for students to enter into biomedical and STEM research. Her objective is to enhance the early-stage development of the educational system and curriculum.


Yi Tong is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Human Development area in the Department of Educational Psychology. Yi received her B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies and Psychology from UW-Madison in Fall 2019. Yi’s research interests primarily lie in the study of children’s language learning processes with a focus on educational applications. She is interested in how children’s prior knowledge and experience with language shape their learning and how they use contextual cues to facilitate word learning. Yi is being advised by Dr. Haley Vlach.


EzgiEzgi Melisa Yüksel is a fourth-year Ph.D. student in the Cognitive Psychology area of the Psychology Department. Ezgi received her B.A. from Middle East Technical University in Psychology and her M.A. in Cognitive Psychology from Bilkent University. Her main interest is how we train learning and memory processes. She is also interested in whether we can change people’s learning strategies to make them better learners.


Lab Manager


Kaitlynn EllisKaitlynn Ellis is the lab manager of the LCD lab. She earned a B.S. in Neurobiology and Psychology with a certificate in Digital Studies from UW Madison, and plans on attending graduate school in the field of Developmental Psychology. In her free time he enjoys biking around Madison and spending time with family and friends.


Undergraduate Research Assistants


Aayush Agrawal is an undergraduate research assistant in the LCD Lab majoring in Neurobiology and Psychology. After receiving his Bachelor’s degree, he plans on attending medical school. In his free time, he enjoys baking sweets, painting shoes, and walking outdoors.


Yee Cao is a senior double-majoring in Economics and Psychology. After graduation, she plans to pursue graduate studies. Due to her interdisciplinary studies, she is particularly interested in consumer behavior, exploring how the market environment and consumer psychology influence decision-making. In her free time, she enjoys watching dramas and variety shows. She is also passionate about photography; capturing moments with friends is something she truly loves.


Jenna Dundas is an undergraduate research assistant in the LCD Lab. She is majoring in Communication Sciences & Disorders with a certificate in Education and Educational Services. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans on attending graduate school to pursue a career in Speech Language Pathology. In her free time, Jenna enjoys playing tennis, watching movies, and spending time with her family and friends.


Kaylin Gruen is an undergraduate research assistant in the LCD Lab. She is pursuing a degree in Communication Sciences and Disorders, as well as certificates in Education and Educational Services, and Disability Rights and Services. Kaylin is planning on continuing her education through graduate school, where she will study Speech and Language Pathology. In her downtime, Kaylin enjoys spending time being active outdoors, drinking coffee, and reading.

Kaylin is also working on a Senior Thesis project in the LCD Lab for her CS&D honors distinction and has received the Hilldale Fellowship Award for the project proposal. The study “Where did I learn that word?” will test children’s memories for new words across different environmental contexts.


Sophia Laundre is an undergraduate research assistant in the LCD lab pursuing a degree in Human Development and Family Studies. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans to go to Medical school to pursue a career as a pediatrician. She enjoys going to the farmers market, working with children, volunteering, and traveling.


Leah McKirgan is an undergraduate research assistant in the LCD lab. She is a senior majoring in Psychology with certificates in Education & Education Services and Business. After graduating this upcoming May, she plans to attend graduate school for School Psychology. Leah enjoys cooking, traveling, playing tennis, and exploring the city of Madison.


Afton Noll is an undergraduate research assistant in the LCD lab. She is majoring in Communication Sciences & Disorders, with certificates in Education & Educational Services and Disability Rights & Services. Afton is planning on attending graduate school to become an Audiologist after completing her undergraduate degree. In her free time, she enjoys reading, checking out local restaurants and coffee shops, traveling, and spending time with friends and family.


Kimberly Otto is a Junior pursuing a Psychology degree with a Science Communication Certificate. After completing her undergraduate degree, she plans to continue her education in Psychology, specifically within developmental research. In her free time she enjoys hiking, reading, spending time with her family, and cheering for the Badgers!


Hailey Papa is an undergraduate research assistant studying Communication Sciences and Disorders with a double major in Education Policy Studies and a certificate in Disability Rights and Services. After she graduates this spring semester, she plans to go to graduate school to become a Speech Language Pathologist! In her free time, she enjoys taking walks, grabbing food with friends, and having a movie night.


Eva Sakellakis is an undergraduate research assistant in the LCD lab. She is majoring in Psychology and Neurobiology with certificates in Education & Education Services. She plans to attend graduate school for School Psychology after graduation. She enjoys going on long walks, trying new restaurants, cooking, and spending time with her friends.


Stephanie ZumbaStephanie Zumba is an undergraduate research assistant in the LCD lab majoring in Interior Architecture. After undergrad she plans on attending graduate school for the Master of Architecture degree. She grew up bilingual and has a strong interest with dual-language learning and educational spaces. In her free time, she likes to go to the lake or travel anywhere with heat.


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Lab Alumni


Sophia Africano
Leena Abu-Zahra
Violet Allscheid
Carly Babino
Amanda Babler
Emma Backlund
Alexia Bales
Ben Barmore
Rachel Beletti
Lauren Belfer
Emily Bero
Molly Bodziak
Maddie Bohrnstedt
Catherine Bredemann
Ashley Carfagno
Kayla Conklin
Adam Cook
Phoebe Crumpton
Courtney Cullen
Elizabeth Duchow
Katherine Dunne
Taylor Dworak
Karissa Ebert
Brooke Effinger
Brittany Fahres
April Feng
Katie Fischer
Emily Fradin
Britney Fredrick
Emma Fricke
Nicole Fugate
Maggie Gallagher
Hannah Georgeson
Olivia Goulette
Annie Grabowski
Ellie Grant
Clara Haeffner
Jessie Handler
Brynn Hermanson
Rebecca Herrmann
Brynn Hesselberg
Alexis Hosch
Kayla Hui
Cailin Inman
Katelyn Iverson
Natalie Jacobson
Meghan Kappelman
Chris Karuza
Anna Katz
Emily Katz
Megan Kaul
Nikki Key
Jichan Kim
Rebecca Kish
Nicole Klans
Mariah Klingeisen
Alanna Koritzinsky
Aaron Kremsreiter
Carla Kraft
Melissa LaMeer
Sarah Langer
Jenna Langmeier
Emma Lazaroff
Lauren Lennon
Kimberly Lieberman
Raizel Lieberman
Kylie Lowen
Frances Madden-Gardeniers
Ana Masad
Maddie Masters
Madeline McDonnell
Samantha McGarvey
Stephanie Meder
Madison Mellen
Natalie Mickola
Hailey Miller
Hilary Miller
Tyra Mills
Jordan Minick
Natalie Miselem
Nena Nakum
Nigel Noll
Tayler Nowak
Sydney Olmsted
Bethany Patrick
Malery Peat
Lexi Peterson
Aly Pfaff
Nicole Pierick
Francesca Przlomski
Molly Pugh
Tinea Reuter
Caitlin Rhoten
Jessica Riegert
Melissa Rosenfeld
Dorie Ross
Marissa Saffrin
Annie Salcedo
Chloe Santiago
Hailey Sawtelle
Hailey Scandin
Natalie Schaffhauser
Maddie Schebil
Lauren Schilling
Lindsay Schoff
Christina Schonberg
Jamie Seward
Tess Shinbaum
Nathan Simon
Kayla Siok
Erika Smithrud
Paige Sprague
Ellise Suffill
Ada Terman
Ben Thomas
Emily Utic
Elena Valentyn
Aly Verson
Matthew Walczak
Ellen Weber
Sarah Weber
McKenna Wenzel
Laura Wintheiser
Rachael Wooten
Carly Wunrow
Amber Wyman
Allie Yingst
Zechun Zhao
Wenqui Zhou

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