People

Lab Director

Melissa Koenig

Dr. Koenig is the Director of the Early Language and Experience Lab and a professor at the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. She teaches CPSY 4345 (Language Development), as well as undergraduate and graduate seminars on moral development and cognitive development. She specializes in early language development and theory of mind and her recent research focuses on children's evaluation of testimony, the bases upon which they credit knowledge to others and the epistemic significance of doubt.

Lab Manager

Alyssa Varhol

Alyssa Varhol

Before joining the Early Language and Experience Lab, Alyssa completed her MSc in Psychological Research Methods as a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Sheffield (2016) and undergraduate degrees in Psychology and English at Kennesaw State University (2013). Alyssa is interested in the different ways early experiences and biological development contribute to--and are affected by--learning and development in language, perspective-taking, and self-regulation. In her free time, she enjoys petting, playing with, looking at, walking, training, and fostering dogs.

Graduate Students

Amanda Grenell

Amanda Grenell

Amanda is a fourth year graduate student at the Institute of Child Development. Her general research interests include cognitive development, executive function, and pretend play in early childhood. In particular, she is interested in how play can serve as a context to learn new information and to practice self-control skills. She grew up in Virginia and graduated from the University of Virginia in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in Psychology and Spanish.

Pearl Han Li

Pearl Han Li

Pearl is a first-year graduate student at the Institute of Child Development. She is interested in social-cognitive development, including selective social learning and moral development in early childhood. Pearl grew up in China. She got her master’s degree in Human Development and Psychology at Harvard Graduate School of Education in 2016 and graduated from Peking University in 2015 with a bachelor’s degree in Journalism and Communications.

Annelise Pesch

Annelise is a third year graduate student at ICD. She is interested in social-cognitive development, including theory of mind, social learning, and executive function in early childhood. She graduated from Arizona State University in 2014 with a B.S. in psychology and a B.A. in philosophy.

Katie Ridge

Katie Ridge

Katie is a fourth year graduate student at the Institute of Child Development. She is interested in language and social-cognitive development, with a particular interest in individual differences in selective social learning. Katie grew up in Philadelphia and graduated from Temple University in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in Psychology.

Sarah Suarez

Sarah Suarez

Sarah is a fifth year graduate student at the Institute of Child Development. She is interested in exploring the role of children's developing social and epistemological knowledge in their everyday testimonial and causal learning. She is also interested in the relation between children's individual learning styles and parent characteristics. Sarah grew up in Puerto Rico, received her bachelor's degree from Cornell University in 2011, and received her master's degree from the University of Minnesota in 2015. 

Senior Research Assistant

Sara Wilkerson

Sara is a post-bac researcher who graduated from St. Olaf in 2013, majoring in psychology. After spending years as a project manager, she is pivoting to her true interest: pursing a PhD in Clinical Psychology. Her research interests lie in studying how individuals find and develop meaning in their lives. Outside of psychology, she enjoys walking marathons, podcasts, and traveling.

Research Assistants

Liz Clark

I am an undergraduate majoring in Psychology and Sociology and minoring in Child Psychology and Leadership. I am originally from Hopkinton, Massachusetts (the start of the Boston Marathon) but moved here to attend the U. I hope to have a job I am passionate about, to help people as many people as I can, to travel the world, and to own a lot of pets. 

Kacie Goblirsch

Kacie is currently a junior at the University of Minnesota from the rural community of Sleepy Eye, MN. She is a double major in Psychology and French with plans to study in France in Spring 2018. She is passionate about helping others and enjoys working with children. Her interests include language development and acquisition, the influence of early childhood experiences, and mental health. She plans to continue her education and peruse a graduate degree in Counseling Psychology. In her free time she enjoys spending time with friends and family, exploring nature, and music.

Jordyn Langowski

I am a junior at the University of Minnesota, majoring in Child Psychology with a minor in Psychology. I love working with children and am interested mainly in their social and emotional development. After I graduate, I plan on continuing my education to eventually become a marriage and family counselor. Currently, in my free time I enjoy spending time with my friends and family!

 

Mikala Lowe

Mikala is a senior studying Psychology with a minor in Public health, and a minor in Health Services Management. She is interested in developmental and health psychology, as she strives to improve community health and wellbeing. After graduating from the University of Minnesota, she intends on continuing her education and pursue a Master's Degree in Public Health Administration & Policy, or Healthcare Administration. In her free time, Mikala enjoys learning new things, partaking in philanthropies, being adventurous, and surrounding herself with great people.

Nicholas Mattson

Nicholas is a second-year student at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities and is double majoring with a BA in Psychology and a BIS in Dance, Social Justice and Human Sexuality. They were raised in Eagan, MN, where they attended Eagan High School and that sparked their fascination with the human mind and queer/trans representation. Nicholas plans to attend the counseling graduate program through the Department of Psychology once they have completed their undergraduate studies. They love kids and want to gain a better understanding of where the common psychological phenomena we see in everyday life develop from. Aside from the ELEL lab, Nicholas is a part of SHADE and U-CAN where they can promote public health, body positivity, and art to the university campus. Nicholas's favorite form of dance that they train in intensely is modern.

Katherine Quintuña

I am a senior majoring in Child Psychology (B.S). I plan to attend graduate school, but first I would like to go back to my home country, Ecuador, and work with low income children. I hope to help facilitate resources, tutor and mentor children from my city. In my free time, I enjoy trying new restaurants, taking walks, and traveling!

Olivia Sheehan

I transferred to the University in the fall of 2016 to pursue a B.S. in Child Psychology and a minor in either family science or criminal justice. My end goal is to work in the foster care system, improving methods to enhance the kids’ lives. When I’m not in the lab or doing schoolwork, I enjoy the three S’s: swimming, snowboarding, and sewing.

Grace Tait

I transferred to the University of Minnesota in fall of 2016, and I am majoring in Child Psychology. I enjoy learning about, and working with children because they have such a unique perspective on the world. It is neat to watch a child grow and develop into their own person. In my free time, I enjoy reading and spending time with friends. After graduation, I hope to attend medical school, and one day become a pediatrician.

Huashoua Thao

I am a third year undergraduate student here at the University of Minnesota. I plan to major in Child Psychology with a minor in Public Health. As the second oldest in my family, I grew up taking care of my 5 younger siblings, which made me interested in child development. After I graduate, I hope to attend medical school, and hopefully, become a Pediatrician in the future. 

Sara Wilkerson

Sara is a post-bac researcher who graduated from St. Olaf in 2013, majoring in psychology. After spending years as a project manager, she is pivoting to her true interest: pursing a PhD in Clinical Psychology. Her research interests lie in studying how individuals find and develop meaning in their lives. Outside of psychology, she enjoys walking marathons, podcasts, and traveling.

Lab Alumni

Maggie Altschaefl, B.S. (Hons), Child Psychology

Maggie is now pursuing a PhD at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.

Elizabeth Blaschak, B.S. (Hons), Child Psychology

Erin Casey, Ph.D.

Caitlin Cole, Ph.D.

Sherryse Corrow, Ph.D.

Jason Cowell, Ph.D.

Sabine Doebel, Ph.D.

Caroline Hendrickson

Chelsea Hetherington, Ph.D.

Lindsey Huffer-Kiesow, B.S. (Hons), Child Psychology

Anne D. Pick Outstanding Child Development Major (2015)

Katie Gordon Millet, Ph.D.

Natalie Low, B.S., Child Psychology

Anne D. Pick Outstanding Child Development Major (2016)

Kristina Pietsch, B.A., Child Psychology

Fernando Sanchez

Fernando is now pursuing a PhD at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign with Dan Hyde and Renée Baillargeon.

Elizabeth Stephens, Ph.D.

Hallie Vanney

Hallie is now a Field Research Coordinator at Pearson and will graduate with her Bachelor’s in December 2017.