News & Events

April 2024: Our team had an amazing time participating at the Girlstart: Girls in STEM Conference 2024 @iheartgirlstart! Students got a chance to learn about brain anatomy and brain plasticity with interactive stations. They also had a chance to talk about data and research! 🧠🌟
February 2024: Our DCN Team collaborated with the Children Research Center Team for STEM Girl Day 2024! 🔬🌟 We had hands-on activities with pipe cleaner neurons and explored our mock MRI machine. Huge shoutout to our amazing undergraduate RAs for a successful day, and a special thanks to @utwistem for organizing the #UTGirlDay #GirlDay2024 event. 🧠🎉
February 2024: New DCN crew for the new semester! 🌟 Our Spring 2024 lab includes our principal investigator (Dr. Church-Lang), 1 lab manager, 1 postdoc, 2 grad students, and 9 undergrad research assistants! 🎉🧠
January 2024: Congratulations, Vicky!🧑🏻‍🎓🎉 We wish you the best in your future endeavors & we will miss you. Thanks for all the help during your time in the lab as a research assistant. 🌟❤️
January 2024: Happy first week of school! Looking back on our meeting with Girl Scout members during the winter break — such a blast seeing the kids asking questions and being curious. 🧠🌟 Excited for more outreach activities and another amazing year of our Summer Project!💡📚🔬
November 2023: Huge congrats to Dr. Eliya Ben-Asher on successfully completing the PhD journey! 🎉 We are so proud of you, and we can’t wait to see where this accomplishment takes you next! Here’s to your hard work and success ahead! 🎓🌟
October 2023: Our graduate students participated in the Research for Y’all Psychology graduate showcase at UT in October. Blaire gave a flash talk, and Eliya & Tyler won poster awards! 🏆🎉
September 2023, Tyler & Blaire presenting at #Flux2023! 🎉

March 2023, Tyler & Blaire presenting at #SRCD2023!

February 2023, New Lab Picture!

January 2023, Lab Happy Hour!

August 2022, New Lab Pic!

May 2022

Two of our amazing undergraduate research assistants are graduating👩‍🎓👩‍🎓 ConGRADs Cristina & Sharmin! Thank you for all of your help during your time in the lab, we will miss you!!!🧠🌟

Two of our amazing undergraduate research assistants are graduating ConGRADs Cristina & Sharmin! Thank you for all of your help during your time in the lab, we will miss you!!!

Cognition, Brain, & Behavior area meeting, April 2022

Grad students Eliya & Blaire presenting their work at our Cognition, Brain, and Behavior meeting!

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Lab Pic! March 2022

Our first in person team picture in a while! (Missing one grad student & two RAs)

Cognition, Brain, & Behavior area meeting, March 2022

One of our grad students, Tyler, presented his work on Sleep, ADHD, and Executive Function. 


Lab Meeting, February 2022

Honors Research Symposium, December 2021

Alice & Miriam (undergraduate RAs) presented their theses in the Psychology Honors research symposium.

Longhorn Halloween, October 2021

Two of our RAs, Darian and Serline, helped promote outreach for the Children’s Research Center by hosting a monster mask activity table at Longhorn Halloween.

Lab Trivia Night at Friend & Allies Brewery!

Flux (Society for Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience) Virtual Conference, September 2021

Tehila, Damion, Blaire & Ian presented their projects while other lab members watched the series of talks & symposiums and started great discussions!


First Lab Meeting of the Fall semester, August 2021

Practice Talk for NIH’s STEP-UP Conference, August 2021

Our High school RA, Rose, practicing her talk on “Comparison of Parent-Rating and Youth-Rating of Youth ADHD Symptom Burden” before presenting it at the STEP-UP conference.

Camping at Pedernales Falls State Park, July 2021

The grad students & lab managers took a short break from data and went on a camping trip. 

Double Celebration at Oddwood Brewing! July 2021

Our lab members celebrated Damion receiving his PhD and Melissa going off to her new job!

Damion’s Dissertation Defense, July 2021

Congrats Dr. Damion Demeter on a successful dissertation defense!!! Damion will start a postdoc position in Dr. Deanna Greene’s lab at UC San Diego.

Lab Get-Together at Easy Tiger, June 2021

Last Lab Meeting of the Spring Semester via Zoom, May 2021

Our lab stayed connected throughout the spring via Zoom. We celebrated the end of the semester by playing a virtual game of Telephone Pictionary.

Tehila’s Dissertation Defense, April 2021


Lab Team via Zoom, Fall 2020

Our team of 5 graduate students, 1 lab manager, 1 UT alumni research assistant, and 7 undergraduates (1 not pictured below) have been staying connected via Zoom.


Flux Conference, September 2020

Tehila presents her virtual poster “Brain Activity in Cognitive Control Systems is Related to Academic Skill in English Learners” for Flux in September 2020.

Ph.D. Dissertation, July 2020

Dr. Mary Abbe Roe defends her Ph.D. dissertation (and gets a brain cake!)

Organization for Human Brain Mapping Virtual Conference 2020 Symposium

Ending the spring semester on Zoom, May 2020

Due to COVID-19, the spring and summer of 2020 were very different for the lab. But we continued to check-in with each other and meet over Zoom. We all worked together to get a COVID-19 survey out to our longitudinal executive function study participant families. We received over 200 responses, which will help us understand the impact of COVID-19 on the mental health and well-being of children in the Austin area.

Lab Team, Fall 2019

We have 4 graduate students, a new lab manager, and a group of undergraduates (just missing 1 in the photo below) for Fall 2019. We met for our first weekly lab meeting of the semester on Friday 9/13.

Flux Conference, September 2019

In September, Jess, Mary Abbe, Tehila, and Damion attended the Flux Congress for Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience in New York City. Jess chaired a session of young investigator presentations, while the 3 grad students presented great posters combining across lab datasets on topics related to ADHD, error processing, and individual identification. Tehila and Mary Abbe also attended the Flux pre-conference: “Beyond the lab: Translating developmental neuroscience.”

NeuroHackademy & ABCD Workshops, August 2019

Damion spent the majority of August participating in hackathon and open science events. He was part of Neurohackademy 2019 in Seattle, WA and attended the ABCD Dataset Workshop in Portland, OR. Damion was involved in numerous collaborative “open hack” projects and is looking forward to continuing his involvement in events fostering the open science framework, as part of the organizational team for the Brainhack Global 2019 event in November.

Undergraduate Posters, April 2019

Nikita presented her poster “Factors Impacting Executive Function Activity in the Brain” at the College of Natural Sciences Undergraduate Research Forum.

Kinsey presented her poster “Investigating the Relationship Between ADHD Symptom Burden and Executive Functions” at the Longhorn Research Poster Session.

Isa, Montse, and Yadira presented their poster “Task Switching in Monolingual and Bilingual Adolescents” at the Longhorn Research Poster Session.

Middle School Outreach Event, April 2019

The Church Lab hosted 7th grade AVID students from Park Crest Middle School for a fun afternoon of science activities! The students got to hold animal brains, get inside a pretend MRI machine, learn about visual adaptation with prism goggles, and decode monster genetics!

Thinkery 21: Superpowers, April 2019

Jess, Mary Abbe, Damion, and Laura ran a booth at the Thinkery’s event on Superpowers, showcasing the wonders of visual adaptation!


SRCD & CNS Conferences, March 2019

Tehila attended the Society for Research in Child Development 2019 Biennial Meeting.

Mary Abbe and Mackenzie attended the Cognitive Neuroscience Society’s Annual Meeting.

Promotion to Associate Professor, February 2019

Jess was promoted to the position of Associate Professor, so we threw her a party!


Kirby Hall School Outreach Event, February 2019

Jess, Mackenzie, and Kinsey visited Kirby Hall School to talk with 2nd and 5th grade students about the brain! They performed a neuron play, acting out how signals are sent between the body and the brain, and got to hold animal brains!

New Paper in NeuroImage, January 2019

We have a new paper in NeuroImage!

The neural architecture of executive functions is established by middle childhood.

NBC News BETTER, December 2018

Jess was quoted discussing strategies for improving your reading skills in the article, ‘How to be a better reader’!

New Papers, Fall 2018

Tehila and Mary Abbe’s papers from the LDRC reading intervention study were recently accepted for publication!

In comparing struggling and non-struggling readers, Mary Abbe found that differences in executive control engagement were largely specific to a reading task and not to a control task, indicating that struggling readers may not have general control deficits. Tehila extended this finding across the intervention to show that network engagement during a reading task, but not during a control task, separated improvers and non-improvers from non-struggling readers. This indicates that brain changes related to intervention outcome in struggling readers were specific to the reading process.

Nugiel, T., Roe, M. A., Taylor, W. P., Cirino, P. T., Vaughn, S. R., Fletcher, J. M., Juranek, J., & Church, J. A. (In Press). Brain activity in struggling readers before intervention relates to future reading gains. Cortex.

Roe, M.A., Martinez, J.E., Mumford, J.A., Taylor, W.P., Cirino, P.T., Fletcher, J.M., Juranek, J., Church, J.A. (2018). Control Engagement During Sentence and Inhibition fMRI Tasks in Children With Reading DifficultiesCerebral Cortex,28(10), 3697-3710. bhy170,

Society for Neuroscience, November 2018

Damion presented results from his current project focusing on the heritability of functional network organization at the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Conference in San Diego, CA!

Texas Center for Learning Disabilities, October 2018

Isa, Yadira, Nancy, and Montse (clockwise from top) are undergraduate RAs and native Spanish speakers in the Church Lab working on a neuroimaging study of bilingual middle schoolers. As part of a multi-site, NIH-funded project, the Church Lab is investigating changes in neural activity across the course of a reading intervention.

Education Research Matters, September 2018

Mary Abbe’s paper “Control Engagement During Sentence and Inhibition Tasks in Children With Reading Difficulties” is featured in the September 2018 edition of the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities blog Education Research Matters!

Dr. Laura Engelhardt, July 2018

Laura successfully defended her dissertation: Biological mechanisms underlying the unity and diversity of executive functions in childhood

Laura with her co-advisors, Elliot Tucker-Drob and Jessica Church-Lang!

UT Green Labs, May 2018

The Church Lab, as well as the Children’s Research Center, has been recognized by UT for exemplary sustainability practices in energy, water, and waste management! We are happy to contribute our part to The University of Texas goal to be waste free by 2020!

The Office of Sustainability has certified the Church Lab as both a Green Lab and a Green Office!

End of Semester Celebration, May 2018

The lab celebrated the end of a productive semester with a zero waste potluck lunch and a few rounds of lab-related trivia led by our very own quizmaster, Tehila!

Plan II, Psychology Honors, May 2018

Undergraduate RA and Honors Student, Emily, presented her thesis work on executive functions, ADHD, and internalizing symptoms!

Outreach Event, April 2018

Middle school students visited our lab for an afternoon of animal brains, pretend MRIs, and science games!

UT Research Week, April 2018

Undergraduate RA, Tiffany, presented her work on the relationship between DHEA (a pubertal hormone) and ADHD symptom burden at the Longhorn Research Bazaar!

College of Natural Sciences: Undergraduate Research Forum, April 2018

Undergraduate RAs, Delayna and Marie, presented their poster on ADHD and actigraphy recordings at the CNS research symposium!

Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, March 2018

We have a new paper in press at Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance!

Martinez JE, Mack ML, Bauer JR, Roe MA, Church JA.  Perceptual biases during cued task switching relate to decision process differences between children and adults. Accepted at Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance. 2018

Jess’s Birthday, January 2017

We celebrated Jess’s birthday with an escape room – we made it out with 15 minutes to spare!

Holiday Party, December 2017

We celebrated the end of the semester with bowling and air hockey at the Union Underground!

Second Year Talks, December 2017

Second year graduate students, Damion and Tehila, gave presentations to the Cognitive Neuroscience area on their current projects. Damion presented his work investigating how “Resting-state control networks support overlapping executive-function task activity in middle childhood.” Tehila presented on how “Brain activity relates to skill change in struggling readers” from the LDRC reading intervention study.

Resting State fMRI Analyses, November 2017

Undergraduate RAs, Madison and Nikita, are working with Damion to prepare resting state fMRI images for analysis. We are investigating similarities and differences in resting brain activity of parents and their children.

Society for Neuroscience, November 2017

Tehila presented results of the reading intervention study at the Society for Neuroscience (SfN) Conference in Washington D.C.!

Texas Center for Learning Disabilities, October 2017

Our collaborative reading intervention project with the Texas Center for Learning Disabilities received an $8.4 million grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to continue work for another five years! Take a look at this press release from the University of Houston.

Flux Conference, September 2017

Our graduate students presented posters at the Flux Society Conference in Portland, Oregon!

Frontiers in Psychology, August 2017

We have a new paper in press at Frontiers in Psychology!

Bauer JR*, Martinez JE*, Roe MA, Church JA. Consistent performance differences between children and adults despite manipulation of cue-target variables. 2017 in press, Frontiers in Psychology: Developmental.           *Co-first authors

Lab Party at The Goodnight, August 2017

Annie, our faithful lab manager, is going off to graduate school at Washington University in St. Louis. We said goodbye with bowling and a pub quiz!

The New York Times, July 2017

Dr. Church-Lang was quoted discussing discipline and positive reinforcement in the article “If Tech Execs Act Like Spoiled Brats, Should We Spank Them?”

SRCD Conference, April 2017

Girl Day/STEM Festival, February 2017

Getting down and dirty with sheep brains!

Holiday Party, December 2016

Middle School Outreach, December 2016

Pflugerville Middle School students came to our lab for an afternoon of science fun!

April 2016

A month of exciting events! Alyssa and Rawand, both graduating seniors, presented posters at UT’s undergraduate research symposiums! Lauren got into medical school! Congratulations all around.

St. Louis Public Radio, December 2015

We were featured in a St. Louis Public Radio piece on the middle school brain and education!

Holiday Party, December 2015

Longhorn Halloween, October 2015

Mary Abbe representing the Church Lab at the Cognitive Development Society Conference, October 2015

Birthday celebration for Alyssa, Anna and Laura! October, 2015

Lab Happy Hour, August 2015

Lab Trivia Night, Pinthouse Pizza, February 3, 2014

Lab Secret Santa, UT Austin, December 10, 2014

Explore UT, UT Austin, March 1, 2014

Making Valentines for Kids in Children’s Hospitals, UT Austin, February 2014

Longhorn Halloween, UT Austin, October 27, 2013

Church Lab, UT Austin, August 22, 2013

UT Outreach Events, Austin, Summer 2013

Making of the Imaging Research Center Welcome Movie, UT Austin, 2013

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