Lab Members

Jessica Church-Lang, Ph.D. – Principal Investigator

Dr. Church-Lang grew up in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, got her B.A. at Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts, and 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 cognitive development pathways. Research in the lab currently focuses on the development of executive functions and reading in late childhood and early adolescence. Dr. Church-Lang is head of the Austin neuroimaging site of the Texas Learning Disabilities Research Center project on reading intervention and brain change (texasldcenter.org). We’re particularly focused on how networks of the brain involved in task control relate to academic skill development and skill improvement over time.  As part of the reading-intervention project, as well as in our other research efforts in children with attention and learning disorders, we are focusing on brain and behavioral changes over two time periods: over the course of an intervention, and over the course of early puberty. To address these questions, we use behavioral methods such as cognitive tests (where we measure response times, accuracy on tasks, or eye movements), actigraphy (where we measure activity levels during sleep and wake), pubertal hormone assessments, neuropsychological assessments, neuroimaging (fMRI, resting-state fcMRI), and studies of patient populations (e.g. children with Tourette syndrome, ADHD, or dyslexia).

Curriculum Vitae

Email: church@austin.utexas.edu


AnnaCarolina Garza, B.S. – Lab Manager

AnnaCarolina attended the University of Texas at Austin and graduated with a B.S. in Neuroscience in 2021. She joined the Church Lab to gain hands-on experience in the research field in 2019 as an undergraduate Research Assistant. During her time as a Research Assistant, AnnaCarolina supported the longitudinal study of executive functioning in children with control disorders and the Neuroimaging of English language learners study and used data from those studies to look at social functioning and executive functioning in kids with and without ADHD. In June 2021, AnnaCarolina began working as a Lab Manager in the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience lab.

Email: annacarolina@utexas.edu


Brittany Davis, B.A. – Lab Manager

Brittany completed a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Oregon in 2019. During her time at the UO she worked as a research assistant and Project Coordinator in Dr. Jennifer Pfeifer’s Developmental Social Neuroscience Lab. In the DSN Lab, Brittany supported projects that use methods such as fMRI, clinical diagnostic assessment, smartphone apps, and hormonal sampling to assess adolescent development across multiple dimensions. Brittany joined the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Lab in January 2021 to help coordinate the Summer project. 

Email: brittany.davis@austin.utexas.edu


Tyler Larguinho, B.S. – Graduate Student

Tyler graduated from the University of Rhode Island in 2017 with a B.S. in Psychology. At the University of Rhode Island, Tyler worked as a research assistant in the labs of Dr. Wayne Velicer and Dr. Patricia Morokoff investigating risky behaviors and power dynamics among sexual minority populations. In the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, Tyler is investigating the relationships between executive functioning, daily activity patterns, and pubertal development in adolescents.

 

Blaire Porter, B.S. – Graduate Student

Blaire Porter graduated from Trinity University (San Antonio, Texas) in 2018 with a B.A. in Psychology. During her undergraduate career she worked as a lab coordinator in Dr. Jane Childers’ lab where she examined the role of structural alignment in verb learning in preschoolers. Post-graduation, she worked as a Research Specialist in Dr. Patricia Bauer’s lab at Emory University where she studied the development of memory integration and semantic knowledge accumulation in children and adults. In the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, Blaire is hoping to examine relationships between executive functioning and reading abilities in typically and atypically developing adolescents.

Email: blairemporter@utexas.edu


 
Eliya Ben-Asher, B.S. – Graduate Student
 

Eliya Ben-Asher graduated from University of California, Davis in 2017 with a B.S. in Cognitive Science. During her undergraduate career she worked as a research assistant in Dr. Ron Mangun’s lab exploring the interplay between attention on visual perception. Post-graduation, she worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator at the University of California, San Francisco where she studied the impact of various intervention on dementia. Today, Eliya is interested in understanding the role that neurocognitive development plays in one’s social ability. In particular, she hopes to understand how variations in executive function relate to daily social function.

 
 

Alice Smaniotto Aizza – Undergraduate Research Assistant

Alice is a senior pursuing a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology. She joined the lab in the fall of 2019 to gain research experience and to develop a better understanding of neuroimaging. She is fascinated by the brain and behavior, and she is especially interested in cognition and developmental disorders. She is currently an honors thesis student, exploring executive function as a predictor of youth experience during the COVID-19 pandemic.

 
 

 

Miriam Ortega – Undergraduate Research Assistant 

Miriam is a senior at the University of Texas at Austin pursuing a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Educational Psychology. She is interested in the realm of developmental psychology, with a strong focus on psychological transitions surrounding adolescence. Miriam seeks to learn more about how various life stressors such as disorders, diseases, and trauma, affect psychological development. Miriam joined the Church Lab in Spring 2020 to gain experience with neuroimaging and to learn more about brain networking as it relates to cognitive processes. Miriam hopes to attend graduate school for clinical psychology to continue pursuing her passion for research.

 


 

Sharmin Islam Souleimanova – Undergraduate Research Assistant

Sharmin is an undergraduate student at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in Neuroscience with a Pre-health certificate. She has always enjoyed learning about the brain, especially when it comes to how it affects our daily behaviors and decisions. More so, she is also interested in learning about neural developmental disorders and how they affect normal brain function. Her goal after graduating is to go to medical school and to continue research in the neuroscience field in any way possible.

 

 


 

 

Shreya Mulukuntla – Undergraduate Research Assistant

Shreya is a sophomore at the University of Texas at Austin pursuing a BSA in Biochemistry and a minor in Healthcare Reform and Innovation. She has an interest in neuroscience and psychology, especially the interaction between both fields. She joined the Church Lab in 2021 to get more experience in research, and become more familiar with neuroimaging. She hopes to learn more about how cognition develops in children and how developmental cognition can differ between children. After graduating, she hopes to attend medical school and continue research.

 

 


 

 

Sneha Kesavan – Undergraduate Research Assistant

Sneha is a freshman at the University of Texas at Austin majoring in Neuroscience and Plan II Honors with a Core Texts and Ideas certificate through the Jefferson Scholars Program. She is also involved in Women in Natural Sciences and the Freshman Research Initiative at UT. As a track athlete, she is naturally interested in how traumatic brain injuries caused by sports affect cognition and behavior in adolescents. Sneha has always been intrigued about the inner workings of the brain and the many unanswered questions regarding childhood personality development, learning processes, and neuropsychological disorders. She joined the Church lab in 2021 to understand the practicalities of research and grow in a new learning atmosphere. Sneha hopes to attend medical school and pursue political advocacy in healthcare. 

 

 


Cristina Inzunza Rios – Undergraduate Research Assistant

Cristina is an undergraduate at the University of Texas at Austin pursuing a major in Psychology B.A. with a minor in Sociology. She has an interest in exploring the field of Developmental Psychology through the application of neuroimaging and cognitive analysis. Further, she joined the Church Lab in Fall 2021 to get more experience in research. In specific, she has a particular interest in understanding the role of bilingualism in brain development and the way language plays a role in the successful completion of reading and math tasks in children.

 

 


ALUMNI

Damion Demeter, Ph.D. (Postdoctoral Scholar, University of California San Diego)

Tehila Nugiel, Ph.D. (Postdoctoral Researcher, University of North Carolina – Chapel Hill)

Mary Abbe Roe Barnes, Ph.D. (Data Scientist, CatalystIQ)

Laura Engelhardt, Ph.D. (Data Analyst/Junior Account Executive, Non-profit Marketing)

Jessie-Raye (Bodenhamer) Bauer, M.A.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



PREVIOUS LAB MEMBERS

Lab Managers:

     
    Melissa Aristizabal, Lab Manager (Teacher, IDEA Public Schools)
     Mackenzie Mitchell, Lab Manager (PhD Student, The University of           North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
Annie Zheng, Lab Manager (PhD Student, Washington University)
Joel Martinez, Lab Manager (PhD Student, Princeton University)
Leonel Olmedo, Lab Manager (educ. consulting, Safal Partners, in Houston, TX)

Paid Research Assistants:

Alyssa Hernandez, Honors Thesis Student (Psychometrician)
Lauren Deschner, Undergraduate RA (MD, UT Health Science Center)
Jess Graves, Summer Research Intern (Masters in Statistics, University of Pittsburgh)

Volunteer Research Assistants:

Tiffany Wang, Undergraduate RA
Emily Barnes, Honors Thesis Student
Delayna Bradshaw, Undergraduate RA
Madison Tuazon, Undergraduate RA
Marie Vu, Undergraduate RA
Anushka George, Undergraduate RA
Julissa De Los Santos, Undergraduate RA
Funmi Osofundiya, Research Assistant
Matt Larson, Undergraduate RA
Lea Ann Thomas, Undergraduate RA
Isabella Gomez, Undergraduate RA
Louisa Angly, Undergraduate RA
Kevin Helgren, Undergraduate RA
Joshua McBride, Undergraduate RA
Lisbet Avila, Undergraduate RA
Rawand Abdelghani, Undergraduate RA
Sneha Joshi, Undergraduate RA
Monica Rodriguez, Undergraduate RA
Afra Huda, Undergraduate RA
Khushboo Verma, M.D., Volunteer
Nikita Batra, Undergraduate RA
Jessica Berry, Undergraduate RA
Kinsey Bickham, Undergraduate RA
Kumail Mahesri, Undergraduate RA
Nancy Licona, Undergraduate RA
Yadira Plata, Undergraduate RA
Mariana Rios, Undergraduate RA
Arlen Rodriguez, Undergraduate RA
Juan Carlos Ocampo, Undergraduate RA
Brandy Hennon, Undergraduate RA
Krista Barringer, Research Assistant
Melissa Garza, Undergraduate RA
Marianne Coppola, Undergraduate RA
 Isadora Costa, Undergraduate RA
Andre Ferreira, Undergraduate RA
Joy Lee, Undergraduate RA
Jacqueline Smart, Undergraduate RA
Monsterrat Alonso, Undergraduate RA
Ashley Jacob, Undergraduate RA
Janchira Charoenworawat, Undergraduate RA
Alejandra Gonzalez-Badia, Undergraduate RA
Neyra Garcia, Undergraduate RA
Phoebe Anderson, Undergraduate RA
 
 
 

Summer Research Interns:

Jessica Galvez, Summer 2016 SURE Student
Lynee Herrera, Summer 2015 SURE Student

High School Research Assistants:

Uday Dutt, High School Volunteer
Rose Griffin, High School Volunteer