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


Melissa Aristizabal, B.S. – Lab Manager

Melissa graduated from Florida State University in 2017 with a B.S. in Psychology. Post-graduation, she began working as a Research Coordinator for the Cancer Neurocognitive Translational Research Lab at FSU’s College of Medicine under the supervision of Dr. Pascal Jean-Pierre. She helped coordinate research projects that focused on assessing, characterizing, and monitoring chronic conditions and the effects of their interventions on cognitive functioning and quality of life in underserved populations. Melissa joined the Church lab in June 2019 to explore the developmental perspective. She is involved in two longitudinal studies that are examining cognitive control in adolescent populations with ADHD, OCD, and Tourette Syndrome; and utilizing neuroimaging to investigate a reading intervention for bilingual middle school students.

Email: melissa.aristizabal@austin.utexas.edu


Brittany Davis, B.A. – Research Assistant 

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 Slide project. 

Email: brittany.davis@austin.utexas.edu


Tehila Nugiel, M.S. – Graduate Student

Tehila 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 brain structure facilitating language and cognitive control. In the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, Tehila uses functional neuroimaging to answer questions about the development of learning and task control processes in late childhood.

Curriculum Vitae

Email: tnugiel@utexas.edu


Damion Demeter, M.A. – Graduate Student

Damion graduated from Chapman University with a B.F.A. in Film and Television Production and from Pacific University with a MA in Counseling Psychology. He worked as a research assistant under the mentorship of Dr. Damien Fair (OHSU) focusing 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. 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.

 

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.

 

Ian Douglas, M.S. – Graduate Student

Before joining Dr. Church-Lang’s lab, Ian received a B.S. in Psychology from Trinity College and an M.S. in Applied Statistics at Columbia University. As an undergraduate, he researched identity development amongst adolescents in understudied environments, and during his masters he investigated neuropsychological development following early-life caregiving adversity. He is interested in leveraging machine and statistical learning methods to explore variability in the relationships between functional connectomics and behavior across individuals.

Email: idouglas@utexas.edu


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


AnnaCarolina Garza – Undergraduate Research Assistant 

AnnaCarolina is a junior at the University of Texas at Austin pursuing a B.S. in Neuroscience with a certificate in Forensic Science. She has always been amazed by the role consciousness plays in the mind and how new discoveries in Neuroscience can enhance our lifestyle, especially in the legal system. AnnaCarolina joined the Church Lab to gain hands-on experience in the research field and learn more about Neuroimaging while working in the P4 part of the study. She plans on attending an MD/PhD program to continue gaining experience and pursue her passion in the medical and research fields with the goal of improving our daily lives.

 

 


Phoebe Anderson – Undergraduate Research Assistant

Phoebe is a sophomore at the University of Texas. She is interested in mental disorders, particularly PTSD and the effects of trauma on the brain. During her freshman year she worked with the Priscilla Pond Flawn Child and Family Laboratory to help develop a reliable coding system for studying children’s play in naturalistic versus traditional play environments. She is excited to be joining the Church Lab to work with the EF Study and to gain research experience working directly with clinical populations. She plans to attend graduate school for clinical psychology.

 


Daniela Alvarez – Undergraduate Research Assistant

Daniela is a senior at Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, double majoring in French and neuroscience and behavior. She works as the head coordinator of the Tutoring Program that matches youth in the Middletown community to Wesleyan students and an individual tutor for French. When she’s not working or studying, she’s on the tennis court as a member of the varsity tennis team (that won nationals last year!!). Once she graduates, she plans on attending medical school and entering a field that incorporates her neuroscience background. She’s always been interested in the anatomy of the brain, the roles of the nervous system and how they apply to our consciousness and psychology. She joined the Church lab to gain more insight on MRI data collection and processing.


Alice Smaniotto Aizza – Undergraduate Research Assistant

Alice is a Sophomore at UT Austin pursuing a B.S. in Psychology with a minor in Sociology. She is passionate about Psychology as whole but is especially interested inthe development of cognitionand neuroscience. She joined the Church Lab in the Fall of 2019 togain research experience and to develop a better understanding ofneuroimaging. After graduating, she hopes to go to graduate school and pursue a career within the field of Psychology.

 

 


Janchira Charoenworawat – Undergraduate Research Assistant

Janchira is a senior at UT Austin pursuing her B.S. in Psychology. In the Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience Lab, Jan helps collect neuroimaging data on bilingual middle school students and conducts cognitive testing on children with and without control disorders as part of the EF study. She hopes to attend graduate school to continue unraveling the sociocultural influences and neurobiological mechanisms that interact to produce lasting alterations in brain activity, confer increased vulnerability to pathology, and shape overall cognitive health outcomes across the age spectrum.

 


Miriam Ortega – Undergraduate Research Assistant 

Miriam is a junior 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.

 


Alejandra Gonzalez – Undergraduate Research Assistant

Alejandra is a junior at the University of Texas at Austin pursuing a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Data Analysis. She has always been interested in the complexity of the human brain and the way it is influenced by its surroundings, especially in the early stages of childhood and adolescence. Because of her special interest in developmental psychology, she joined the Church Lab and is very excited to be working in the P4 study. She will be learning more about neuroimaging and gaining experience in research, which goes in line with her future goals of attending graduate school to pursue a career as a researcher in the field of psychology.

 


Neyra GarciaUndergraduate Research Assistant

She is a senior Neuroscience BSA student with a minor in English. She joined the Church Lab to get more experience with MRIs as a research tool and to expand her knowledge on graduate-level neuroscience research. She’s always been very interested in bilingual populations, which is what lead her to also be a team member of Project SEED run by Dr. Su Yeon Kim in the HDFS department for my entire undergraduate career. She is also interested in neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease. She hopes to go to medical school and specialize in Neurology, and pursue Alzheimer’s research.

 


Sean Hart, B.A. Research Assistant

Sean graduated from the University of Texas at Austin in 2020 with a B.A. in Psychology. Sean started his research career his sophomore year as a research assistant in Dr. Beer’s Self-Regulation: Goals and Personality lab. In this lab, he helped with a study that measured participants’ self-esteem responses to neutral, negative, or positive feedback in light of social pressure. From there Sean worked with a postdoctoral fellow on an independent research project about life-domains that impact self-esteem, and this project became a senior thesis that he completed with the Psychology Honors program in December of 2020. Post-graduation, Sean joined the Church Lab to help out with the Summer Slide study. He hopes to explore his interests and learn as much as he can about the research process before heading off to a PhD program, where he would like to study executive function, work, productivity, and motivation.


ALUMNI

Mary Abbe Roe Barnes, Ph.D. (Data Analyst, Whole Foods Market Inc.)

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

Jessie-Raye (Bodenhamer) Bauer, M.A.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



PREVIOUS LAB MEMBERS

Lab Managers:

        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

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