Lab Members

Dr. Jessica Church-Lang

Principal Investigator

Jessica_CL_20121022_01_cropDr. Church-Lang received her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Washington University in St. Louis in 2008. She has a strong interest in how cognitive processes develop over age, and in how research on atypical development illuminates the vulnerable aspects of typical cognitive development. Research in the lab currently focuses on the development of cognitive skills such as task switching and reading in late childhood and early adolescence. Dr. Church-Lang is heading the neuroimaging arm of the Meadows and Vaughn Gross Center project on 4th grade reading intervention at UT Austin. We are interested in whether neuroimaging can reveal differences between struggling readers who respond to intervention and those who don’t, as well as in exploring differences between struggling and non-struggling readers during sentence comprehension. We’re particularly interested in how regions of the brain involved in attention relate to reading disorders.  As part of the reading-intervention project, as well as in additional research efforts, we are exploring the development of short-duration, rapidly-adjusting adaptive control brain networks, how they might be different in typical and atypical development, and how they interact over age with the rest of the brain. To address these questions, we use behavioral methods such as cognitive tests (where we measure reaction times, accuracy on tasks, or eye movements), neuropsychological assessments, neuroimaging (fMRI, resting-state fcMRI), and studies of patient populations (e.g. children with Tourette syndrome or dyslexia).

Curriculum Vitae

Annie Zheng

Lab Manager

AnnieAnnie Zheng graduated from Colgate University with a B.A. in Cognitive Neuroscience. During her undergraduate career, she studied second language phonological acquisition in native English speakers using acoustic analysis methods. Currently, Annie is investigating the neural substrates of reading comprehension of struggling and fluent readers as well as the development of cognitive function in adults and children using a selective attention and task switching paradigm.



Laura Engelhardt

Graduate Student

Laura Laura graduated from Indiana University in 2011 with a BA in Psychology and Spanish. She worked as a lab manager for Dr. Kimberly Noble at Columbia University, where she helped to investigate the effects of low socioeconomic status on neurocognitive development across childhood. Laura will pursue this line of work at UT under the mentorship of Dr. Jessica Church-Lang and Dr. Elliot Tucker-Drob. She plans to research structural and functional brain development from a behavioral genetics perspective. She is particularly interested in the developmental trajectories of reading and executive function.

Mary Abbe Roe

Graduate Student

79Mary Abbe Roe graduated from the University of Rochester in 2013 with a B.S. in Brain and Cognitive Sciences. During her undergraduate career she worked as a research assistant in Dr. Bradford Mahon’s lab (University of Rochester) and Dr. Russell Poldrack’s lab (UT Austin) where she used fMRI and behavioral methods to study adults with and without brain disorders. Currently, in the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience lab, Mary Abbe is investigating the neural correlates of reading comprehension in typical and struggling readers. She is interested in researching the atypical and typical development of executive functions, specifically inhibitory control.

Tehila Nugiel

Graduate Student

TehilaTehila graduated from Ramapo College with a B.A. in Psychology and from the University of Texas at Dallas with an M.S. in cognitive neuroscience. At UTD she worked with Dr. Mandy Maguire using EEG to investigate the neural correlates of language development. After earning her M.S. Tehila worked with Dr. Ingrid Olson at Temple University using diffusion tensor imaging to study the structural connectivity facilitating semantic control. In the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, Tehila will investigate the neural correlates of reading and executive function in typical and struggling readers. She is especially interested in how connectivity in the developing brain facilitates complex skills such as reading.

Damion Demeter

Graduate Student

DamionDamion Demeter graduated from Chapman University with a BFA in Film and Television Production and from Pacific University with a MA in Counseling Psychology. For the past two years, Damion has worked as a research assistant in the Fair Neuroimaging Lab at Oregon Health & Science University under the mentorship of Dr. Damien Fair. His previous training focused on resting state functional connectivity processing and analysis techniques, with his primary research exploring the influence of stimulant medication on functional network trajectories in adolescents diagnosed with ADHD. As a graduate student in the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience lab, Damion hopes to continue to explore and identify functional network organization trajectories throughout various stages of childhood brain development in typical and atypical populations, while developing robust skills in task-based Neuroimaging techniques.

Mackenzie Mitchell

Research Assistant

MackenzieMackenzie graduated from UT in May 2017 with Bachelor’s degrees in Neuroscience and Human Development & Family Sciences. Her primary interests lie in the development of mental health disorders in young children. Previously, she worked as an undergraduate research assistant in Dr. Su Yeong Kim’s lab, which investigates the effects of language brokering in adolescent populations. Mackenzie has spent the past three summers as a teaching assistant in the Priscilla Pond Flawn Child and Family Lab working with children ages 2-6. She hopes to attend graduate school and contribute research to inform early childhood education practices.



Tiffany Wang

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Tiffany WangTiffany is a junior at UT Austin pursuing a B.S.A. in Neuroscience with a minor in Radio-Television-Film. She is a peer learning assistant in the Chemistry Department and has previously worked under Dr. Neal Rutledge studying the efficacy of different CT perfusion modalities in treating stroke patients. Her future goals include going to medical school and working with medically underserved communities.





Emily Barnes

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Emily is a senior majoring in Psychology and Plan II Honors. Her research interests include neuropsychological and cognitive psychology, particularly in children. In the past, she has worked under Dr. Jacqueline Woolley, researching children’s imagination and cognition, and Dr. Susan Carey, studying executive functioning and conceptual learning. She is completing her senior thesis in the lab, investigating executive functions and how they are affected by disorders of cognitive control and behaviors such as sleep. Emily hopes to attend graduate school and pursue a career in clinical child psychology.



Nikita Batra

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Nikita is a junior at UT Austin pursuing a BSA in neuroscience with a certificate in the business of healthcare. She is interested in the mechanisms of learning in adolescents with developmental disorders and is passionate about the importance of STEM learning, especially among populations with low socioeconomic status. She joined the Church Lab to study cognitive function and gain experience with neuroimaging. Nikita hopes to attend medical school and specialize in clinical genetics or neurology.





Delayna Bradshaw

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Delayna is a  junior at UT  Austin pursuing a B.S. in Actuarial Mathematics on a Pre-Medicine track. She was a peer learning assistant in the Chemistry Department at UT, and has a history working with children in daycares and after-school programs. After she graduates, she hopes to attend medical school to pursue her dream of becoming a Pediatric Cardiologist.





Funmi Osofundiya

Research Assistant

Funmi trained as a physician, and obtained a Master of Science degree in Public Health (MSPH) from Texas A&M University. Her master’s thesis was a prefrontal neuroimaging study on the neural costs of obesity in older adults. She joined the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Lab to gain more experience in neurological research.





Madison Tuazon

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Madison is a senior at UT, studying Biochemistry and Finance. She is also completing a Bridging Disciplines certificate in Children and Health. Previously, she worked as a research assistant in Dr. Jennifer Beer’s lab, which studies motivational influences on how people perceive others. Currently, she works at Girlstart with 4th to 8th grade girls to increase their interest in the STEM fields. She joined the Church Lab to learn about cognitive development in children and adolescents. After finishing her undergraduate studies, she hopes to attend medical school to become a pediatrician.




Marie Vu

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Marie is a third year at UT, pursuing a Biology BSA with a Business Foundations Certificate. She has previously done research in the Functional Genomics Lab with Dr. Bagchi and currently serves as a research mentor for freshmen there. Having prior experiences as a summer camp counselor for children with developmental disorders, she joined the Church Lab as a UGRA to gain further insight for the cognitive processes of such children. Her future career goals include attending medical school and specializing in pediatrics.





Jessie-Raye (Bodenhamer) Bauer, M.A.







Leonel Olmedo, Lab Manager

Joel Martinez, Research Assistant, currently at Princeton

Matt Larson, Undergraduate RA

Lea Ann Thomas, Undergraduate RA

Alyssa Hernandez, Undergraduate RA, currently working as a Psychometrician

Louisa Angly, Undergraduate RA

Lauren Deschner, Undergraduate RA, currently working on an MD at UT Health Science Center

Rawand Abdelghani, Undergraduate RA, currently working on a Masters in Social Work at UT Austin

Jess Graves, Summer Research Intern, currently working on a Masters in Statistics

Lynee Herrera, Summer Research Intern

Joshua McBride, Undergraduate RA

Afra Huda, Undergraduate RA

Uday DuttHigh School Volunteer

Lisbet Avila, Undergraduate RA

Monica Rodriguez, Undergraduate RA

Sneha Joshi, Undergraduate RA

Kevin Helgren, Undergraduate RA


Lab Events (more lab photos and shenanigans)

Church Lab, UT Austin, December, 2016