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The Research Team

(From left to right): Lexi Sylverne (Lab Manager), Emily D’Antonio (Lab Manager), Natasha Vahora, Elisabetta Disalvo, Dr. Elizabeth Gunderson, Grace Bennett-Pierre (Graduate Student), Xinhe Zhang (Graduate Student), Dr. Jing Tian (Postdoctoral Scholar).


Dr GundersonDr. Elizabeth Gunderson

Elizabeth Gunderson, Ph.D., is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience 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.
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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 under the supervision of Dr. Robert Siegler at Carnegie Mellon University in 2018. She 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 the individual differences in mathematical development, particularly by examining the interactions between individual characteristics and environmental input.

Graduate Students

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.

Xinhe Zhang

Xinhe is a doctoral student in Developmental Psychology at Temple University. She received her M.Sc. in Psychology at University of Birmingham in 2017. After graduation, she worked in educational companies to research and develop competence assessments for middle school students and then focused on gamified cognitive ability tests and training for primary schoolers. In the Temple Cognition and learning Lab, she is interested in the development of spatial and numerical processing, especially the relationship between spatial and numerical abilities.

Lab Managers

Emily D’Antonio

Emily received their B.A. in Psychology from Catholic University of America in 2021. As a research assistant for Dr. Nancy Adleman, they studied social and attention abilities as well as the impacts of implicit memory on mood recall. They hope to study parent-child interactions with LGBTQ+ populations to understand children’s social and cognitive development and school performance.

Lexi Sylverne

Lexi received their B.A in Psychology with a minor in Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies from Temple University in 2021. Lexi was an undergraduate research assistant for Dr. Gunderson, where they assisted on projects investigating predictors of early math achievement, and how parent-child interactions can influence the development of children’s spatial skills. They are interested in researching how to best support mental health and educational performance in children with developmental disabilities.

Undergraduate Research Assistants 

Ashley Bontempo, Joei Camarote, Taylor Chernuta, Sevila Temirova, Katie Probst, Sherese Bennett, Natasha Vahora, Elisabetta DiSalvo, Ava Pasewicz, Jules Mirales, Caitlin Romanelli.

Undergraduate LAURA Award Recipients

Sherese Bennett, Spring 2022

Joei Camarote, Summer 2022

Current Undergraduate Honor’s Projects 

Children’s Motivational Beliefs in Math, Verbal, and Spatial Domains: Relations to Gender and Achievement. Joei Camarote, Jing Tian, PhD, and Elizabeth A. Gunderson, PhD, 2022

Gender Differences in Parents’ Motivational Beliefs and Children’s Persistence After Failure. Taylor Chernuta, Grace Bennett-Pierre, and Elizabeth A. Gunderson, PhD, 2022.

Does Parental Exposure to Spatial and Verbal Activities Impact Their Child’s Achievement? Natasha Vahora, Nadia Tavassolie, and Elizabeth A. Gunderson, 2022.

Previous Undergraduate Honor’s Projects

Do Parent’s Motivational Beliefs Influence their Children’s Motivational Responses After Failure? Rawan Altamimi, Grace Bennett-Pierre, and Elizabeth A. Gunderson, PhD, 2021.

The Influence of Growth Mindset Feedback on Student’s Academic Attitudes. Khushi Sibal, Jing Tian, PhD, and Elizabeth A. Gunderson, PhD, 2021.


Postdoctoral Scholars

Nicole Hallinen

Nicole completed an IES Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Department of Psychology and College of Education at Temple University, and is currently a Senior UX Researcher at Microsoft. 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.

Nicole Sorhagen

Nicole received her Ph.D. from Temple University in August 2014, researching how social processes influence cognitive development. She completed a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Pennsylvania, and then worked as an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Millersville University. Nicole returned to Temple in 2022, working in the Office of Institutional Research and Assessment.

Graduate Students

Kexin (Cathy) Ren

Cathy received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology with a concentration in Quantitative Methods from Temple University in 2021. She is currently a UX Researcher at Google. LinkedIn

Lab Managers

Melissa Mildort

Melissa has moved on to a new position.

Victoria Bartek

Victoria has moved on to a position as a Social Worker in the Innovation Ecosystem Team at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Jorge Carvalho Pereira

Jorge has continued on to pursue his Ph.D. in Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, working with Dr. Melissa Libertus.

Yiqiao Wang

Yiqiao has continued on to pursue her Ph.D. in Psychology at Harvard University, working with Drs. Elizabeth Spelke and Susan Carey.

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 2021!

(From left to right): Dr. Elizabeth Gunderson, Lexi Sylverne, Kimberly Bohl, Nadia Tavassolie (Graduate Student), Dr. Jing Tian, Grace Bennett-Pierre (Graduate Student), Dr. Kexin (Cathy) Ren.