The Research Team

(From left to right): Dianna Wambach, Vicki Bartek (Lab Manager), Dr. Elizabeth Gunderson, Su (Ngoc) Dam, Cathy (Kexin) Ren (Graduate Student), Yiqiao Wang (Lab Manager), Madyson Kolbes, Jane Benum-Paolantonio, and Jorge Carvalho Pereira (Lab Manager)


Dr GundersonDr. Elizabeth Gunderson

Elizabeth Gunderson, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at Temple University. She received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Chicago in 2012 and her B.A. in Computer Science & Psychology from Yale University in 2005. Dr. Gunderson’s research focuses on the cognitive and socio-emotional factors that affect young children’s academic achievement, especially in the domain of mathematics.
Department Website



Postdoctoral Scholar

Jing Tian

Jing is a post-doc researcher in the Department of Psychology at Temple University. Jing completed her Ph.D. in Psychology at Carnegie Mellon University in 2018 and received her B.S. in Chemistry and Psychology from Peking University in 2013. Jing is interested in children’s learning, especially in the area of mathematics. Her research focuses on understanding difficulty children experience during learning and aims at providing insights for more effective instruction.

Graduate Students

Cathy (Kexin) Ren

Cathy is a doctoral student in Psychology at Temple University, concentrating in Developmental Psychology. She received her B.S. in Psychology at Sun Yat-sen University in China. She is interested in children’s numerical learning, especially difficulties they have in learning rational numbers. By doing research in this field, she hopes to find a way to help both children and teachers to better learn and teach mathematics.

Grace Bennett-Pierre

Grace is pursuing her doctoral degree in Developmental Psychology at Temple University, after completing her B.A. in Psychology at Wellesley College in 2016. She has previously studied the development of young children’s understanding of difficulty and its use in decision-making as a lab manager for Dr. Hyowon Gweon. In the Temple Cognition and Learning Lab, she is excited to explore how children form domain-specific concepts of difficulty and how these conceptions influence their achievement motivation.

Nadia Tavassolie

Nadia is a doctoral student in Psychology at Temple University, concentrating in Developmental Psychology. She received her B.A. at George Washington University with a double major in Anthropology and Human Services & Social Justice. She is interested in how children develop math knowledge, with a focus on social factors that influence academic motivation and achievement in math. She hopes to apply this research towards identifying the most important skills for later math achievement, and to develop tools that can be used at home or in school to cultivate those skills.

Lab Managers

Vicki Bartek

Vicki received her B.A. in Psychology in 2015, from The College of New Jersey, and her M.S. in Experimental Psychology in 2017, from Seton Hall University. In her previous work she studied errors in memory recall with Dr. Marianne Lloyd, and the event related potentials correlated with recall and familiarity with Dr. Andrew Leynes. She hopes to examine the role of parent and child interactions and parental control in children’s cognitive and emotional performance.



Jorge Carvalho Pereira

Jorge received his B.A. in Psychology in 2015 from the University of Delaware and he then attended the M.A. in Psychology program at Rutgers University – Camden. His research focuses on the coalescence of nature and influence of early experiences in the long-term development of children and their abilities. In particular, Jorge’s current focus is centered on further understanding the contributions of early parent-child interactions for children’s later development along cognitive domains such as mathematical reasoning.



Yiqiao Wang

Yiqiao received her B.S. in Developmental Psychology, from the University of California, San Diego, in 2018.  In her previous work, she studied the early development of children’s numerical understanding and its relation to natural language with Dr. David Barner.  Her current research interests include young children’s numerical learning and factors that contribute to individual differences in the math skills of young children.




Undergraduate Research Assistants 

Madyson Kolbes, Su (Ngoc) Dam, Dianna Wambach, Maya Rahman, Nadhia Marie Engle, Khushi Sibal, Paula Ueki


Postdoctoral Scholars

Nicole Hallinen

Nicole is an IES Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Psychology and College of Education at Temple University.  She received her Ph.D. from Stanford’s Learning Sciences & Technology Design program in 2015 and a BS in Psychology and a BA in French & Francophone Studies from Carnegie Mellon University in 2009.  Dr. Hallinen’s research investigates how the design of instructional materials affects students’ learning and transfer of mathematical ideas, primarily in algebra and physics.

Nicole Sorhagen

Nicole received her Ph.D. from Temple University in August 2014 and proceeded to gain employment in a post-doctorate position at the University of Pennsylvania where she continued her work in the lab in order to further her personal research. Nicole is currently a professor at Millersville University.  Nicole’s research interests lay in understanding how social processes influence cognitive development. The well-established achievement gaps in America between income, ethnicity, and gender has led Nicole to a secondary research interest focused on inequalities in achievement.

Lab Managers

Lindsey Hildebrand

Lindsey has continued on to pursue her Ph.D in developmental psychology at Boston College

Ying Lin

Ying has continued on to pursue her Ph.D in cognitive neuroscience at the University of Rochester

Conner Black

Conner has continued on to pursue his Ph.D. at the University of South Carolina working with Dr. Jane Roberts

Alexander D’Esterre

Alex has continued on to pursue his Ph.D. at the University of Maryland working with Dr. Melanie Killen.

Laura Donohue

Undergraduate Research Assistants 


Congratulations to our graduating seniors, Class of 2019!

(From left to right): Lindsey Hildebrand (lab manager), RJ Nair, Lillian Ham, Marly Pred, and Ying Lin (lab manager).

(From left to right): Lindsey Hildebrand (lab manager), Marly Pred, Ying Lin (lab manager), Cathy (Kexin) Ren (graduate student), Dr. Elizabeth Gunderson, Lillian Ham, Vicki Bartek (lab manager), RJ Nair, Alyssa Cannon, Sarah Pepper.


Alina Chlebek, Marisol Savage, Brooke Singer, Mahala Femovich, Courtney Gray, Riley Brown, Maya Johnson, John Durison, Jenny Jung, Lexi Liu, Sumaiya Nusrath, Victoria McLaughin, Gabriella Riccardo, Jessica Palmarini, Synclaire Arther, Tyler Burger, Nicole Lee, Jae Sung, Olivia Dermody, Samantha McLaughin, Jennifer Bradley, Sherly Smith, Najah Young, Brittany Worthington, Betsy Kohlbenner, Christin Kim, Cory Ardekani, Audrey Wrobel, Lillian Ham, Anza Thomas, Jae Sung, RJ Nair, Marly Pred, Kyle McCloskey, Stephy Sebastian, Sania Latif, Courtney Grey, Mahala Femovich, Carrie Weaver, Sarah Pepper, Dan Keefer, Alysa Cannon, Jane Benum-Paolantonio