Lab Members

Lab Director

Deena Weisberg, Ph.D.

biopond portrait

✿ Dr. Weisberg is a Senior Fellow in the Department of Psychology and the principal investigator of the Cognition & Development Lab. She earned her Ph.D. from Yale University and completed postdoctoral training at Rutgers University and Temple University. Dr. Weisberg’s primary research interest is in the development of imaginative cognition. Her research investigates the nature of young children’s interactions with pretend games, fictional stories, and hypothetical scenarios, as well as the role that these imaginative processes play in development. Specifically, her current projects explore how children’s imaginative capacities can aid their nascent scientific reasoning skills. Dr. Weisberg additionally studies children’s and adults’ understanding of scientific explanations and the nature of science at the Penn Laboratory for Understanding Science.

Lab Coordinator

Elysia Choi

✿ Elysia graduated from New York University in 2016 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. She is interested in how children learn about the world and hopes to pursue a PhD in cognitive development in the future. In her free time, she likes to run, explore new restaurants, and go camping with her friends.

Research Assistants

Elena Schiavone

✿ Elena is in the class of 2018 majoring in Psychology and minoring both in Biological Basis of Behavior and Religious Studies. After graduating, Elena plans on pursuing either a doctorate degree in Psychology. On campus, she serves on the executive board of service fraternity Alpha Phi Omega and is a mentor in Big Brothers Big Sisters. In her free time Elena enjoys cooking, reading, and spending time with her friends and family.

Amanda Haber

✿ Amanda graduated from Boston University in 2016, with a bachelor’s degree (and teaching license) in early childhood education and a minor in psychology. She is interested in researching how children’s early learning is shaped by their social context with a strong commitment to developing practical classroom applications. She hopes to pursue a PhD in human development, with a focus on early child development and school readiness. When she is not working, she likes to cook and spend time with friends and family! 

Yubin Huh

Yubin is a member of the class of 2020 pursuing a major in Psychology and minor in Statistics. She is also a member of the Varsity Women’s Golf team and directs the marketing team for Hult Prize Ivy. During her free time, she loves to play with children, paint, and visit new restaurants.

Jia Li

✿ Jia is a graduate student majoring in Education. She is interested in researching the role of imaginative cognition in children’s development of scientific reasoning, and she intends to figure out the influence of arts, as a tool to develop imaginative cognition, on children’s science learning. She hopes to be a curriculum developer with a focus on STEM education in a non-profit organization. When she is not working, she likes exploring Philly with friends and reading books.

Calais Cronin

✿ Calais Cronin is a member of the class of 2021 interested in majoring in Psychology with a minor in Spanish. Additionally, she is a member of the Petey Greene program and participates in the stage crew for the V-Day movement on campus. She enjoys exploring Center City, playing basketball, traveling with her older sister, and playing with her two nephews.

Past Staff

Jane Reznik                               Emily Hopkins, Ph.D.             Jordan Taylor

Lab Manager                            Postdoctoral Researcher          Graduate Student                            


Past Research Assistants

Miranda Meketon, 2018       Emily Marucci, 2018        Sydney Morris, 2018


Meagan Dollard, 2018    Aileen Scullin-Turcich, 2018   Alexandra Ham, 2018


Sabrina Elkassas, 2018        Kelly Kennedy, 2018           Janis Ripoll-Garigga, 2019


 Annie Freeman, 2018             Ariel Epstein, 2018                   Joyce Pan, 2018


Jahnavi Rao, 2016                  Matthew Dong, 2017            Chloe Schwartz, 2017


Jill Castellano, 2016               Sirmina Dremsizova, 2017       Anjeli Elkins, 2016


Lody Friedman, 2016            Carla Hernandez, 2015            Gilana Jaffe, 2015


Candace Mariso, 2016          Connor McLaren, 2016         Divya Ramesh, 2016  


Natasha Rivera, 2015            Nate Stauffer, 2016               Phoebe Wang, 2015


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