Melissa Koenig

Dr. Koenig is the Director of the Early Language and Experience Lab and an associate 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.


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.


Annelise Pesch

Annelise is a second 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.

Sarah Suarez

Sarah Suarez

Sarah is a fourth 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 and received her bachelor's degree from Cornell University in 2011.

Katie Ridge

Katie Ridge

Katie is a third 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.

Amanda Grenell

Amanda Grenell

Amanda is a third 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.


Fatuma Qorane

I am a graduating senior here at the University of Minnesota, in the College of Liberal Arts, studying Biology with a minor in Child Psychology. After my undergraduate study, I hope to join the Masters of Nursing program to pursue a career in neonatal nursing. In this particular lab I am most interested in the cognitive development of young children and especially the biological components that may contribute to this.

Hallie Vanney

Hallie is a senior at the University of Minnesota studying Psychology. Her experience working with homeless youth and families sparked her interest in mental illness and its impacts. She plans on continuing her education after graduation by pursuing a Masters or Doctorate in Counseling Psychology. In her spare time Hallie loves to walk her dog, hike, travel and spend time with family.

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. 

Vicky Fritz

Vicky is currently a senior studying Psychology with a minor in Neuroscience and Speech- Language-Hearing Sciences. After graduating from the University of Minnesota she plans on going to graduate school to pursue a Doctorate of Audiology. In her free time, she likes to relax and watch Netflix and spend time with friends and family. One of her favorite things about working with kids is their genuine reactions and excitement to learn. 

Michael Zajac

Michael recently completed his undergraduate studies in Psychology and Applied Psychology in Educational and Community Settings at the University of Minnesota. His academic focus lies primarily in clinical psychology and he likely has graduate school in his future. He spends most of his time bouncing between research and academics, working as a medical assistant, mental health crisis counselor, and living as a musician.

Fernando Sanchez

I started college at the University of New Orleans and completed my degree in Jazz Studies at the University of Minnesota. Currently, I'm taking a year off before starting my graduate studies at the University of Illinois where I will be working with Dan Hyde and Renée Baillargeon. My primary interests lie at the intersection of developmental and social psychology, particularly in their relationship to young children's socio-moral reasoning. In my free time, I enjoy biking, reading, and dancing all over the Twin Cities.

Natalie Low

Anne D. Pick Outstanding Child Development Major (2017)
The ELEL team is proud to announce that Natalie Low, a senior and multi-semester research assistant in the lab, is the 2017 recipient of the Anne D. Pick Award for her excellence in research and academics in the Institute of Child Development. Natalie's interests lie in children's cognitive and emotional development, particularly in the area of regulation, the strategies employed by children in helping regulate their emotions and the influence of early life experiences. During her spare time, Natalie enjoys baking, spending time with family (in Singapore) and friends, exploring nature 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. In the future, I plan to become an educator for Teach for America in hopes to change kids lives and build my experience working with kids. After the two-year commitment, I will apply to graduate school to continue my studies in Child Psychology. 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.

Marwa Ali

I am a senior here at the University of Minnesota. I am from Fridley and I am pursuing a major in Psychology and minor in both Neuroscience and Leadership. I plan on working with minorities and I would like to inform others so we can get rid of the stigma of mental health in our society.

Bolade Jindau

I am a third year undergraduate student at the University of Minnesota majoring in Psychology with a Public Health minor. I plan to attend graduate school to become a physician assistant, I love working with children and hope to incorporate that into my everyday life in the future!

Kelton Black

Kelton is a junior at the University of Minnesota pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Psychology and a Minor in Biology. After graduating, he plans to continue his education by attending graduate school but until then he will continue to enjoy his work at the ELEL lab.

Erica Bonte

I am a senior here at the U of M majoring in Speech Language Hearing Science. I plan to go to graduate school for a Master's degree in either Speech Pathology or Occupational Therapy. My ultimate goal is to work with children in one of these fields. I am excited to have the opportunity to work in this lab, as it will expand my knowledge about children.

Jordyn Langowski

I am a sophomore at the University of Minnesota, majoring in Child Psychology and minoring in Psychology. I've worked with children since my sophomore year of high school, and love watching them grow and develop their own unique personalities. I plan on going to grad school after I gradate, but in the meantime, I enjoy spending my free time with friends and family!






Erin Casey

Erin Casey, Ph.D.

Caroline Hendrickson

Caroline Hendrickson

Elizabeth Stephens

Elizabeth Stephens, Ph.D.

Caitlin Cole

Caitlin Cole, Ph.D.

Sherryse Corrow

Sherryse Corrow, Ph.D.

Jason Cowell, Ph.D.

Sabine Doebel

Sabine Doebel, Ph.D.

Katie Gordon Millet, Ph.D.

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

Kristina Pietsch, B.A., Child Psychology

Chelsea Hetherington, Ph.D.

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