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ALAINA (Fall 2018-Present)
Alaina is currently the Cognitive and Language Development Lab manager. She is a 2nd-year doctoral student in Clinical Psychology with a focus on children and adolescents. She graduated from Case Western Reserve University with her B.A. in 2014 and the University of Maryland, College Park with her M.P.S. in 2017. Her research interests include studying the impact of chronic stress on the development of internalizing disorders in childhood, the development of prevention programs for childhood anxiety and depression, and the use of coping strategies as a protective factor against the development of psychopathology. Her clinical interests include mental health services for underserved youth, technology-based interventions for internalizing disorders, and evidence-based interventions for youth with anxiety and depression.
NIKITA (Summer 2020-Present)
Nikita is the current lab manager of the Cognitive and Language Development Lab. She is a first-year master’s student in the Industrial/Organization Psychology program at Montclair State University. Nikita was introduced to the lab in her senior undergraduate year when she collaborated on a servant leadership project. She grew interested in research in cognitive psychology and the intersection of different fields of psychology. Other research interests include the efficiency of leadership development models, the modification of leadership development models, and the impact of organizational culture on employees and outcomes. She is also interested in the intersection of neurodiversity and the workplace, especially in organizational leaders. She hopes to earn her Ph.D. in Industrial/Organizational Psychology and to use her experience in cognitive and developmental psychology to better enrich her field.
ALEX (Spring 2019-Present)
Alexander Dean Bracken received his B.A. in psychology from Montclair State University in 2019. Currently, he is completing his last year of coursework for the M.A. in psychological sciences program. Alex has conducted research in health psychology and cognitive science as both an undergraduate and graduate student, using various techniques ranging from human experimentation to qualitative analysis. In the Cognitive and Language Development Laboratory, Alex works on several studies related to how children and parents think about the world and spatial configurations, and how they use language to map to various concepts. Some of his lab duties include running studies with children and parents, coding and analyzing behavioral data, performing statistical analysis, getting parents and children interested in our research by visiting public events such as fairs and library classes, and presenting our research to the community. Alex has also had the pleasure of collaborating with Professor Emeritus, Dr. Ragin, both on a qualitative study of food-related behaviors within physical and social environments and a textbook chapter on environmental psychology for Handbook of Research Methods in Health Psychology. Based upon his work and interest in how people think, make decisions, and behave within social and physical environments, Alex plans to continue his studies in health psychology at the doctoral level.
CHRISTY (Fall 2019-Present)
Christy started in the Cognitive and Language Development lab in Fall 2019. She graduated with her B.A. in Psychology from Rutgers University and is now currently a first-year Master’s student in the Clinical Psychology Master’s program and School Psychology certification program. Her research interests include understanding the qualities of leadership among children, how they develop, and what can contribute to servant leadership. She is also interested in how developmental language acquisition in early childhood affects children in later years and what contributing factors are involved during different levels of development. She has experience working with children in school settings and is interested in pursuing a career helping children by utilizing early intervention strategies. After her master’s, she wishes to pursue her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology, specializing in Pediatric Psychology.
Stephanie (Winter 2021-Present)
Stephanie is a first year Master’s student in Clinical Psychology and school psychology. She attended Montclair State University and received her BS in Biology and BA in Philosophy in 2020. After graduation her plans are to continue research, working as a school psychologist in preparation for further graduate studies. She plans on being an interdisciplinary clinician, researcher, and eventually professor, combining knowledge and methods from the fields of philosophy, psychology, and neuroscience. She is interested in combining the empirical methods of science and the method of phenomenology to help paint a comprehensive image of the human condition and experience. Her research interests include ontology, the phenomena and experience of time, ethics, nature and humans’ place in it, human development, and mental health education and intervention.
Alexis (Summer 2020-Present)
Alexis is a Junior at Montclair State University. She is pursuing a bachelor’s degree in Linguistics with a minor in Japanese. She joined the lab in Fall 2020 due to an interest in Language Development and Research. She hopes to attend medical school after graduating from Montclair, and is looking to apply what she learned in the lab about research, language, and child development to a future career in the medical field.
Emily (Summer 2020-Present)
Emily joined the lab in Summer 2020. She is a second year student at Montclair State University with a double major in Psychology and Justice Studies. Her primary focus is in justice systems. Emily joined the lab because of her passion for research and love for kids, with the hope to use this experience in her future grad school career. She is aiming to graduate in Spring 2023 and go directly into a doctoral program to earn a PsyD or PhD in social work in Fall 2023. She is aiming to work as a Psychologist for children and adolescents in the future while also thinking about pursuing a professional career as a professor at a university.
KARIMA (Fall 2019-Present)
Karima is a first-year student at Montclair. She graduated from Woodbridge High School and is currently on track for the BA/MA Psychology program. She began working in the lab fall of 2019, due to her interest in child development. Karima plans on getting a doctorate in Clinical Psychology after her Master’s degree. She hopes to expand areas of research and career plans while working in the lab.
AJANAI (Fall 2019-Present)
SOME PAST RESEARCH ASSISTANTS
BRITTANY (Fall 2019-Fall 2020)
Brittany has worked on a study that focuses on language development and language comprehension in infants and young children. She is also interested in clinical research that focuses on the assessment and treatment of those who suffer with severe mental illnesses. She plans to pursue a PhD in clinical psychology and become a clinical psychologist.
VERONICA (Spring 2019-Fall 2020)
Veronica is a Junior Psychology major with minors in Child Advocacy and Social Work. After Montclair State, she hopes to either be accepted into a clinical mental health or clinical psychology Master’s program and earn her PsyD. in the future. In the lab, she enjoyed working with our parent and child participants and being involved in different parts of the research process.
YEYSON (Summer 2018-Fall 2020)
Yeyson is a research assistant who joined Dr. Lakusta’s lab in the Summer of 2018. He graduated from Montclair State in 2019 with a B.A. in Psychology with a minor in Biology. He has prior experience working with children at the Ben Samuels Children’s Center, an inclusive daycare center, where he works as a student assistant. In his spare time, he enjoys reading and writing. Yeyson’s research interests are the physical and psychological development of children/adolescents. He is also interested in developmental processes/delays and how they impact the overall health of children. After graduation, he plans to attend medical school and become a pediatrician, specializing in behavioral pediatrics.
Julia graduated from the BA/MA Program in General Psychology and is pursuing her Ph.D in Developmental Psychology at Tufts University. Her research interests are in both developmental and social psychology, as well as the intersection between the two fields. She wonders about both innate abilities and biases in children (and adults) as well as how the environment can impact their knowledge and mindset. In order to pursue these interests, she was an active member of both Dr. Lakusta’s Cognitive and Language Development lab as well as Dr. John Paul Wilson’s Perceiving People lab. In the future, she hopes to earn her Ph.D. and become a researcher, professor, and mentor to students.
DIANA (Spring 2018-Summer 2020)
Diana joined the lab in January 2018. Diana has worked on a project investigating children 2-4 years old and their sensitivity to the “division of labor” regarding spatial support configurations, meaning, are children this young able to differentiation and map “BE ON” with support from below and “STICKS TO” for mechanical support/adhesion? Diana also looked at parents’ language use to study the effect parents linguistic input has on children’s understanding. She presented the results at Montclair’s 13th research symposium. Diana will be graduated in 2019 with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in public health. In Fall 2020 she went to graduate school to pursue a degree in Clinical Psychology where she can further her research interests.
DIAMOND (Spring 2019-Summer 2020)
Diamond joined Dr. Lakusta’s lab in the Spring of 2019. Her research interests include child development and mental health. In the lab, she enjoyed learning the way in which children’s language develops over time. She is currently enrolled in the 5 Year Masters Program in General Psychology with a minor in Child Advocacy and Policy. Diamond has experience with children by babysitting, working at the Child Development Center on McGuire Air Force Base, and hopefully working at Ben Samuels Children’s Center soon. In the future, she hopes to become a clinical child psychologist and have her own practice.
Colin joined the lab in January of 2019. He graduated in the spring of 2020 with Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and plans to pursue a Master of Arts in Organizational Psychology. Before returning to school in 2018, Colin ran his own interior design firm for over a decade. Through the intimate work he did with his design clients, Colin realized that human behavior and how it related to social interaction was where his true passion was. He plans to pursue a career in organizational development, organizational change, leadership development and leadership coaching with a focus on diversity & inclusion. Working with Dr. Lakusta and Dr. Bragger on their interdisciplinary leadership development study has helped Colin’s to focus his broad interest in human behavior to the specific field of Organizational Psychology.
YASMIN (Summer 2017-August 2019)
Yasmin joined the lab in the Summer of 2017. She completed a B.A. in Psychology and a B.S. in Mathematics. Previously, Yasmin was a research assistant for Dr. Ragin in the fall of 2016. She was also a research assistant for Dr. Panorkou from the math education department studying how children learn STEM related concepts. She has also volunteered as a teacher’s assistant for classes involving 3-5 year olds at her local mosque. Yasmin’s research interests are in child development and Psycholinguistics. Yasmin is currently attending Fordham University’s PhD program in Quantitative Psychology.
EMILY (Spring 2018-August 2019)
Emily is a research assistant and joined Dr. Lakusta’s lab in the Spring of 2018 to gain language and developmental research experience. She pursued a B.A. with a double major in Linguistics and Spanish, concentration in Translation and a minor in music. Her research interests are centered in language, primarily psycholinguistics, cognitive linguistics, bilingualism, (second) language acquisition and foreign language. Her future aspirations include attending a graduate program and becoming a certified Spanish interpreter.
CHRISTINA (Spring 2018-August 2019)
Christina joined the lab in the Spring of 2018 to gain involvement in developmental research. Christina completed her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in children and adolescents at Montclair. She has a variety of experience working with children through many years of babysitting and working in a clinical private practice as a neuro-feedback technician. She is also involved in research regarding adolescent decision-making. Christina’s research interests are in child development and autism spectrum disorder. Christina is currently pursuing her doctorate in Clinical Psychology at William Patterson University.
GABRIELLE (Spring 2018-August 2018)
Gabrielle joined the lab in the Spring of 2018. She completed her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, with a concentration in children and adolescents. She has previously graduated from Rutgers University Class in 2016 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a minor in Education and Biology. Her previous research experience includes working in Dr. Rudman’s social psychology lab. Her experiences with children and psychology span over a wide range. She has worked as a one-on-one behavioral assistance in ABA skills training, preschool teaching assistant, and camp counselor. Currently, she is a clinician intern at the Youth Development Clinic in Newark, NJ. Gabrielle’s research interests include childhood development and autism studies. Her future aspiration is to pursue a PsyD in Clinical Psychology after completing her Master’s degree.
NICOLE (Summer 2018-Spring 2019)
Nicole was a research assistant who joined the lab in the Summer of 2018. She is currently a senior pursuing a B.A. in Psychology and minor in Public Health. She has experience working with children at the Children and Family Services unit at Careplus NJ as a Supervised Visitation Program assistant. Her research interests include child and adolescent mental health and development. Her future aspirations are to pursue a Master’s Degree in social work and obtain a license in clinical social work (LCSW).
HOLLY (Fall 2016-Summer 2018)
Holly was a research assistant who joined the lab Fall of 2016. Since then, she has completed her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology. Her experience working with kids comes from years of babysitting and working on an inpatient unit for children and adolescents struggling with emotional and behavioral health issues. She is also involved with research regarding developmental factors of anxiety disorders in children. Her research interests are in both normal and abnormal aspects of child development, childhood anxiety disorders, and child/adolescent mental health in general. In the future, she plans to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology.
Melanie was a former lab manager. After returning from a semester abroad in France, she decided to begin her position as lab manager in 2016. During this time, she was finishing her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology at Montclair State University and graduated in May 2016. While an undergrad, Melanie was a research assistant for Dr. Campanella. She also volunteered at Good Grief and Rocking Horse Rehab, helping with therapy sessions. She has assisted with outreach and research at the Center for Counseling and Psychological Services at Montclair, and was a teacher’s assistant for Child and Developmental Psychology courses. Melanie then received her Master of Arts in General Psychology at Montclair. Melanie is now pursuing a Ph.D in Australia! Her research interests include the development of children and adolescents.
CHELSEA (Spring 2017-Spring 2018)
Chelsea was a graduate research assistant who joined the lab in Spring 2017. Since then, she has finished her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, with a concentration in children and adolescents. Before that, she completed her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Elementary Education Certification and graduated in January 2014. She has experience with children in various forms. She has been an elementary and preschool teacher and has spent numerous years as a nanny. Chelsea’s research interests are exploring child development and infant/child Mental Health. She plans to obtain a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and eventually open her own pediatric private practice.
SAMANTHA (Summer 2015-Spring 2018)
Samantha was a research assistant who joined the lab in the Summer of 2015. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology, and a certification in Child Advocacy and Policy. Currently, she is pursing a M.A. in School Psychology at Kean University. She has previously volunteered at Deirdre’s House, which deals with victims of sexual abuse. In her free time, she enjoys reading, exploring new places and expanding her knowledge of the ASL language. Her research interests include school psychology, particularly social justice within a school-wide and systemic context, bullying and aggression, and prevention and intervention strategies.
MICHELLE (Summer 2015-Spring 2018)
Michelle was a research assistant who joined the lab in the Summer of 2015. She has received her B.A. in Psychology, with minors in both Russian and Women & Gender Studies. Currently, she is the Lab Manager of an Infant and Cognition Lab at Purdue University. Her research interests are in psycholinguistics.
KELLY (Spring 2017-Spring 2018)
Kelly was a research assistant who joined the lab in Spring 2017 to complete an independent research study, as well as to gain experience and grow in the lab as a research assistant. She has completed her B.A. in Psychology with a Minor in Portuguese, and currently works for Apple. She has experience with children through babysitting as well as teaching Sunday School voluntarily. Her research interests are in Child Developmental Psychology. She hopes to do research with adults in the field of Behavioral Psychology.
BILL (Summer 2017-Spring 2018)
Bill was a research assistant who joined the lab in the Summer of 2017 and was working with children in Newark at the Youth Development Clinic as well. He has received his Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, with a concentration in children and adolescents at Montclair State University. Currently, Bill is the Lab Manager of an Infant Cognition Lab at Harvard University. After getting his doctorate, he would like to open up his own practice.
CARLA (Spring 2016-Spring 2017)
Carla was a research assistant who joined the lab in the Spring of 2016 after taking Dr. Lakusta’s developmental psychology class. She completed her B.A. in Psychology in 2017. She has experience working with toddlers and young children at a daycare and through several years of babysitting. Her research interests are children’s knowledge representation and language development and she wishes to obtain a Ph.D. in child and family clinical psychology.
DAWN (Fall 2016-)
Dawn was a research assistant who joined the lab in the Fall of 2016. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in May 2016. During this time, she was an intern at the Kessler Foundation’s Stroke Lab in West Orange. She previously worked in Dr. Yoav Arieh’s lab for 2 semesters completing her Psychology Honors research thesis in Music Perception. She has also worked in Dr. David Townsend’s lab for 2 semesters exploring areas in the field of psycholinguistics using eye-tracking. Dawn’s research interests are in the effects of poverty on social well-being and cognitive development. She is also involved with non-academic research into Universal Basic Income and alternative socio-economic models. She hopes begin a PhD program in 2018.
MEGAN (Spring 2016-)
Megan was a research assistant who joined the lab Spring 2016. Since then, she has completed her B.A. in Psychology. She has experience working with children through volunteer organizations such as Key Club International and Rotary International. She regularly took part in the “Caring for Kids” events, which allowed students to reach out to children within the community. Her research interests are generally in everything related to psychology. However, she is incredibly interested in exploring new and exciting psychological concepts. Her future aspiration is to become an Experimental Psychologist where she can work in a lab.
JENNIFER (Spring 2016-)
Jennifer was a graduate research assistant who joined the lab in Spring 2016. She has pursued her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology with a certificate in Child Advocacy & Policy the year prior. Now, she is currently finishing her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology, with a concentration in children and adolescents and a School Psychology Certification. She is also a teaching assistant in the Psychology department. Prior to this role, she has had experience working with children as a behavioral assistant, at Ben Samuel’s Children’s Center, Boys and Girls Club of Clifton, as well as in public schools. Jennifer’s research interests are the development of infants, children, and adolescents in urban public schools. In the future, she would like to pursue a Ph.D in School Psychology. Her ultimate goal is working as a school psychologist in an urban area. She would also like to become an adjunct professor as well.
MARIA (Fall 2014-)
Maria was a research assistant who joined the lab in Fall 2014. She has since graduated from her B.A. in Psychology with a Minor in Computer Science in May 2017. Currently, she is pursuing a Ph.D. at Temple University. When she is not in class or at the lab, you can most likely find her reading, sketching, painting, or seeing plays in the city. She also enjoys spending her time learning Italian and coding projects in Java and HTML. Her research interests are in cognitive neuroscience, particularly neurocognitive development of memory and social cognition, as well as neural correlates of creativity and morality. Maria wishes to earn a Ph.D. in cognitive neuroscience.
MADDY (Summer 2015 and 2016)
Maddy was a research assistant who pursued a B.A. in Psychology and Sociology. She was a visiting research assistant from Johns Hopkins University for the Summers of 2015 and 2016. She has experience with children from working at summer camps and preschools. Her research interests are in child language acquisition and she wants to obtain her master’s in social work.
KARINA (Summer 2016-)
Karina was a research assistant who joined the lab in the Summer of 2016. Previously, she graduated from her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology in May 2014. She loves being a mom and spending time with her daughter, Zoe Bella. In her free time, she enjoys riding her bike, making jewelry, taking photos, reading, and watching Ted talks. Her research interests are brain plasticity, language development in bilingual children, and the relationship between motivation and emotions on productivity in the workplace. After her graduation in May 2017, she plans to obtain her Master’s Degree in Psychology.
AMRITA (Fall 2014-)
Amrita was a graduate research assistant who joined the lab Fall 2014. She has since graduated from her Master’s degree in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in child and adolescent psychology and a Certification in School Psychology in May 2016. Before that, she completed her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Rutgers University in May 2013. She also had worked at NJIT for a year doing individual support care. Amrita’s research interests are Child and Adolescent Development. In the future, she wishes to become a child/family clinical psychologist.
Danielle is a former lab manager. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology May 2014 and her Master of Arts in General Psychology May 2016. Currently, she is an adjunct professor at Montclair State. During her undergraduate studies at Montclair State she also worked as a Lab Manager and a research assistant for Dr. Jason Dickinson. The two projects she worked on were “Collaborative Research: The Impact of Disclosure History and Interviewing Protocol on Children’s Eyewitness Testimony” and “The Effects for Interview Forecasting and Cognitive Control on Children’s Eyewitness Testimony.” Her research interests are children’s eyewitness and autobiographical memory development with a focus on how children categorize and organize memory. In the future, she wishes to pursue a career within the legal system, helping children to report their experiences while preserving accuracy.
JESSICA (Fall 2014-)
Jessica was a graduate research assistant who joined the lab Fall 2014. At the time, she was pursuing her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and graduated May 2014. Afterward, she received her Masters in Clinical Psychology and Certification in School Psychology. In the past, she has worked as a research assistant for Dr. Dickinson on a project named The Effects for Interview Forecasting and Cognitive Control on Children’s Eyewitness. She also has experience with children through babysitting and from currently shadowing a school psychologist team at a public school district in North New Jersey. Jessica’s research interests are in Child Development and she plans to work as a school psychologist in a public school district.
DEANNA (Spring 2013-)
Deanna was a research assistant who joined Spring 2013. She received her B.A. in Psychology in 2016. She had gained a great deal of experience with children through babysitting. At the time, she was currently a paraprofessional at a private school for children with special needs. Her research interests included Child Development and she plans to receive her Master’s degree in Psychology.
Stephanie was a graduate research assistant and received her Master of Arts in General Psychology in May 2012.
Omaris was a graduate research assistant. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in May 2013 and her Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology with a concentration in Child and Adolescent Psychology in May 2015. At the time, she was working full-time as a case manager in Union County with children and adolescents through school systems, DCP+P, and various treatment and residential facilities.
Daphne was a research assistant and received her Bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology and Psychology.
Moira was a research assistant and she received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
Kelsey was a research assistant. She graduated in May 2015 with a Bachelor of Science in Exercise Science. After that, she became a graduate student at Sacred Heart University in the Occupational Therapy program. She was accepted into the Occupational Therapy Honor’s Society, Pi Theta Epsilon, and was elected the president of Sacred Heart University’s chapter for this organization. Her duties include ensuring the chapter met all of their goals and requirements, running the meetings and updating members about national happenings for Pi Theta Epsilon. In addition to this, she is remaining involved in research through different symposiums and conferences. As a member of Pi Theta Epsilon she will be representing Sacred Heart University at the Connecticut Occupational Therapy Association. She was accepted to partake in a service-learning opportunity where she will be going to Guatemala to offer services on an interdisciplinary team. She will work alongside her professors as well as students in the fields of nursing, physical therapy and speech pathology to volunteer our healthcare services to those that otherwise may not receive it.
Delores was a research assistant who received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Child Advocacy. After that, she became a full-time student pursuing an MSW. She also was interning at an Early Learning Center within the Early Head Start program.
Amanda was a research assistant who graduated in May 2014 with a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
Jessica was both a research assistant and a former lab manager. She got her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in May 2013 and in May 2014 received her Master of Arts in Teaching Students with Disabilities and Inclusive Education. At the time, she was working as a reading specialist while pursuing a career teaching students of all abilities.
Katie was a graduate research assistant and former lab manager. She received her Master of Arts in Clinical Psychology and Certification in School Psychology in May 2015. At the time, she was working as a school psychologist in a public high school in Bergen County, where she manages cases for 10th – 12th-grade students. She conducts psychological evaluations and provides counseling support.
Sara was a research assistant and completed her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in May 2014.
Megan was a research assistant and previously graduated in May 2013 with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Megan was in her first year of doctoral-level studies in the Combined School-Clinical Child Psychology PsyD program at Ferkauf Graduate School of Psychology. She is a research assistant and has training in intelligence and achievement test administration.
Marija was a research assistant and finished her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology in May 2012. After, she completed her Master’s degree in Psychology and graduated in May 2015. At the time, she was working full time as a renal social worker in a dialysis center in Manhattan. She also managed a research study at Fordham University that evaluates 16 senior centers in 5 boroughs of NYC. She has her license in both NY and NJ.
Serina was a research assistant who graduated in August 2013 with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology.
Lauren was a research assistant who graduated in May 2012 with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. At the time, she was currently in the 3rd year of her doctoral program and laying the foundation for her dissertation. Her research interests included developing interventions to increase interest and self-efficacy for children in STEM fields. She has also taught at Middlesex County College.
Noelle was a research assistant who graduated in May 2011 with her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology. Since she left the lab, she became a certified medical assistant and spent a year and a half working at a pediatric urgent care office. She then went to PA school at Rutgers University.
Jessica was a research assistant in the lab. Afterward, she began working on her Clinical Psychology PsyD from Loyola University in Maryland. She also completed an internship at the NJ VA Hospital working with veterans. She finished her dissertation and graduated in May 2016.