Dr. Carla Abad, Doctoral Student
Carla received her doctoral degree in Spring 2018 from the developmental science program. Carla studies how language input and gender stereotypes influence sex differences in young children's spatial abilities. In 2014, she was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship to support her research and education. In her master's thesis, Carla studied the growth of spatial ability in pre-kindergarten children utilizing a longitudinal design. She found that boys grow significantly more than girls in their mental rotation ability over the course of the pre-k year. In her dissertation research, Carla is developing a spatial activities questionnaire that can be given to parents to learn about what spatial activities kids are playing with and how the frequency of this play may explain the sex differences seen in spatial ability in children.
Carla is now co-director for the Learning Assistant (LA) program at STEM Transformation Institute at FIU.
Dr. Alina Nazareth, Doctoral Student
Dr. Alina Nazareth is an alumni of our Developmental Science Ph.D. program and trained under Dr. Shannon Pruden. She studies factors affecting adult mental rotation performance. In particular, she is interested in exploring the role of cognitive strategy, gender beliefs and stereotypes, spatial activity experience, and spatial anxiety in explaining individual differences in mental rotation performance. Her research aims to address the gender-gap in the STEM fields. Dr. Nazareth is currently a post-doctoral scholar at the NSF-funded Spatial Intelligence Learning Center (SILC) at Temple University where she works with Dr. Nora Newcombe.
Dr. Rosalie Odean, Doctoral Student
Rosalie completed her doctoral degree in the developmental science program in Spring 2018. For her master's thesis, Rosalie studied the comprehension of spatial terms by bilingual English-Spanish speaking toddlers utilizing eye-tracking. Rosalie is interested in documenting and explaining individual differences in language processing efficiency for spatial words. For her dissertation work, Rosalie is studying when and how children develop dimensional adjectives (e.g., words like big, little, tall, short). She is interested in examining the order of acquisition of these words in English- and Spanish-speaking children and whether knowledge of these words relates to children's developing spatial abilities.
Rosalie is now a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Delaware's Department of Education working under the mentorship of Dr. Roberta Golinkoff. She is continuing her study of children's language development there and creating a standardized language task for 2 year olds.
Catherine Bradley, Lab Manager
Fall 2010 - Summer 2013
Catherine Bradley served as PLSD's lab manager for over 2 years. In 2013, Catherine entered a master's degree program in Speech-Language Pathology at the University of Florida.
Daniela Alvarez, MARC U*STAR Fellow
Fall 2014 - Summer 2018
Daniela graduated from FIU with a major in Psychology and minors in Biology and Statistics. She is now a graduate student at the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine working with Dr. Drew Bailey.
While working in the PLSD lab, Daniela was involved in several studies, including one where she examined the role of parent spatial talk on young children's developing spatial skills. Her honor's thesis investigated the relations between undergraduate spatial and generalized anxiety, and their mental rotation performance. She was interested in examining whether sex differences in mental rotation could be explained by domain-specific anxiety (spatial anxiety). In June 2016 she was awarded the Maximizing Access to Research Careers - Undergraduate Student Training for Academic Research (MARC U*STAR) fellowship. Her current research interests include individual differences, spatial and math abilities, educational policy, and pedagogy.
Alejandro Acuna, Research Assistant
Summer 2013 - Spring 2014
Ariel Aguero, Research Assistant
Spring 2016 - Summer 2017
Ariel graduated with a major in psychology and minor in statistics. His research interests were in language development and acquisition. He is now pursuing a PhD in developmental psychology at the University of Notre Dame under the supervision of Dr. Jill Lany's lab. He plans to investigate the developmental roots of statistical learning mechanisms, individual differences in language acquisition, and language deficits in those with intellectual disabilities. While at PLSD, he worked on the Words in Space project, and completed an honor's thesis seeking to understand the role of language in guiding infant attention to locations in space.
Alyssa Alayeto, Research Assistant
Summer 2015 - Summer 2016
Alyssa is an undergraduate student pursuing her second Bachelor's degree in Psychology, her first being in English Literature with a minor in Visual Arts. Her diverse interests meet at the point of an intrinsic desire to explore and understand people, as well as help them in any way possible. That said, her ultimate goal is to pursue a graduate degree in Clinical Psychology where she can fulfill her passion and guide people to better living and understanding of themselves.
Elizabeth Arango, Research Assistant
Elizabeth is an undergraduate senior working towards a major in psychology. She is interested in learning more about children's language development and plans on pursuing a Masters in Speech Language Pathology, focusing on children with a speech delay or assisting adults with speech recovery. She is currently working on Parent Talk, which examines children's language and spatial acquisition.
Tatiana Barriga, Post-Baccalaureate Research Assistant
Tatiana graduated FIU in 2015 with dual degrees in Psychology and Biology. She was recognized as a Worlds Ahead Scholar at the FIU graduation for her contributions to research, science, and society. Her research interests include infant and child development, and in the future she hopes to pursue a medical degree to become a Neonatologist. This is her fifth year doing research for Dr. Shannon Pruden, and she is currently involved in research looking at how bilingual English-Spanish adults interpret events and attach novel labels to these events.
Tiffany Beguiristain, Post-Baccalaureate Research Assistant
Spring 2014 - Fall 2014
Tiffany graduated from FIU with a bachelor of science in biological sciences and with a minor in chemistry. Tiffany worked as a post baccalaureate research assistant at the Project on Language and Spatial Development on our grant funded TEAM-UP for Kids study. As of Fall 2016, Tiffany is in her second year of medical school at the Herbert Wertheim College of Medicine at FIU. She currently studies insurance status as a modifier between race and the stage of prostate cancer at diagnosis and is the Medical Senator for the Graduate and Professional Student Committee.
Elsa Bravo, Doctoral Student
Elsa began working with the Project on Language and Spatial Development in September of 2013 as an undergraduate research assistant. She was awarded the undergraduate Minority Biomedical Research Support Program Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (MBRS RISE) fellowship in April of 2014 for her research and dedication to pursuing a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology. Elsa started in the Fall 2016 as a graduate student in the Developmental Science Ph.D. program and is now working to understand how identity development explains the gender gap in STEM.
Paulina Bollat, Post-Baccalaureate Research Assistant
Summer 2015 - Fall 2017
Paulina is a Psychology graduate at Florida International University. She is working on several project in the lab, such as Words in Space, the Neural Mechanisms of Physics Learning Project and on studies exploring children’s developing spatial abilities. She is currently working on graduate school applications and hopes to pursue a Ph.D., conducting research on the effects of social factors and stigmas on intimate relationships and self-esteem.
Amanda Costales, Graduate Student
Fall 2012 - Summer 2013
Amanda is assessment coordinator for Dr. Lorraine Bahrick's Infant Development Lab at Florida International University.
Valerie Cruz, Research Assistant
Spring 2014 - Fall 2014
Valerie graduated from FIU with a major in Health Services Administration and a minor in communication studies. At the Project on Language and Spatial Development, Valerie worked on our grant-funded TEAM-UP for Kids study. As of Fall 2016, Valerie is pursuing her Juris Doctorate at the Villanova School of Law and plans on graduating in 2019.
Bryan Diaz, Honors College Student
Summer 2015-Summer 2016
Bryan is currently pursuing a Bachelors in Psychology. He is an Honors College student in the pre-medical track with plans of becoming a Pediatric Orthopedic surgeon but first hopes to get his master's in a Physician Assistant program. During his time in the PLSD lab, he worked on the Parent Talk project examining the influence of parent spatial skills and gender stereotypes on young children's spatial thinking.
Stephanie Escobar, Undergraduate Research Assistant
Fall 2018 - Spring 2019
Stephanie Escobar is a junior currently majoring in Psychology. After she graduates from FIU, she plans to travel first and then apply to graduate school (hopefully somewhere on the west coast!). Stephanie is currently working on research examining the relation between executive function and spatial abilities in preschool children.
Sandra Ferret, Research Assistant
Fall 2011 - Fall 2013
Sandra worked on several studies at the Project for Language and Spatial Development including Parent Talk and TEAM-UP for Kids. She is currently pursuing a graduate degree in School Psychology at FIU and plans to graduate in August 2017.
Karla Figueroa, Post-Baccalaureate Research Assistant
Karla is currently obtaining her graduate certificate in the program for communication sciences and disorders at FIU. Karla has her B.S. degree in psychology and graduated with magna cum laude honors. Karla is interested in language development and how language is acquired.
Aurora Geddes, Research Assistant
Aurora is a senior at Florida International University, pursuing a degree in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice. After graduating with her bachelors she will pursue her PhD in Clinical-Forensic Psychology. Clinical-Forensic Psychologist concentrates working in mental health centers, hospitals, detention centers, conducting criminal evaluation for individuals with mental issues and criminal behavior. Aurora is currently helping out with the Neural Mechanisms of Physics study, as well as collecting data for a mental rotation study with adults.
Albany Gonzalez, Honors College Student
Albany is an undergraduate Honors College student pursuing dual degrees in English and Psychology. She is currently working on the Parent Talk project and has an interest in gender stereotypes as well as spatial language. In participating in this study, she hopes to gain knowledge and experience within the fields of developmental psychology and research.
Sandy Gonzalez, Paid Post-Baccalaureate Research Assistant
Spring 2012 - Summer 2013
Sandy worked on several projects at the Project on Language and Spatial Development lab, including TEAM-UP for Kids and leading a project looking at bilingualism in undergraduate students and children. Sandy is now a doctoral student in the Developmental Science program at Florida International University working with Dr. Eliza Nelson.
Yousy Jimenez, Post-Baccalaureate Research Assistant
Yousy received a bachelor's degree in Psychology from the University of Florida. As of Fall 2016, Yousy is enrolled in and obtaining a dual master's degree in clinical mental health and school counseling at Florida International University. She also works at the switchboard of Miami as a crisis counselor.
Barbara Junco, Research Assistant
Spring 2011 - Summer 2012
Barbara Junco graduated FIU in 2012 with a bachelor's degree in Psychology. She is currently attending Birkbeck University of London for the MSc in Cognitive Neuroscience where she works with Dr. Fred Dick.
Michael Lopez, Research Assistant
Michael is a senior completing his bachelors degree in Psychology and Anthropology. He has been working in the Project on Language and Spatial Development since May of 2013. Michael hopes pursue a doctorate degree in Developmental Psychology with a focus on linguistic sex and cultural variations among children.
Sergio Marquez, McNair Scholar
Summer 2015 - Summer 2017
Sergio graduated with a bachelor's degree in Psychology, with a minor in English. Sergio is now attending Michigan State University where he is completing his Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology. Within the realm of Organizational Psychology, he is most interested in studying the subfields of self-regulation (motivation) and leadership, since he is most curious to observe how those facets manifest within the context of the workplace. While at the PLSD lab, Sergio was involved with our Physics study but also became interested in spatial ability and language. He is also interested in investigating the roles that language and communication play in both self and group motivation. Sergio would like to also consult for companies on the side, and achieve a balance of academia and applied work.
Nicole Matos, Research Assistant
Nicole is in her fourth year as an undergraduate student. She is a biology major and hopes to become a physician.
Valery Mateo, Paid Post-Baccalaureate Research Assistant
Summer 2012 - Summer 2014
Valery worked on TEAM-UP for Kids as a research assistant and later as post baccalaureate research staff. Valery is now a doctoral student in the Developmental Psychology program at Georgia State University working with Dr. Şeyda Özçalışkan.
Alina Mitchell, Research Assistant
Alina is a senior in the process of obtaining a Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in Psychology. Her goal is to pursue a dual MD-PhD degree. She wants to be a neurologist and to study epigenetics. She is currently involved in the Neural Mechanisms Physics project.
Nicole Moron, Research Assistant
Nicole is currently a senior in psychology with an interest in clinical/counseling. Nicole's goal is to go to graduate school for mental health counseling and then become a professional mental health counselor who specializes in patients with eating disorders and anxiety.
Algenys Name, Work Study Student
Linett Negron, Post-Baccalaureate Research Assistant
Summer 2014 - Fall 2014
Linett worked as a research assistant on TEAM-UP for Kids. She wishes to one day become a Pediatric Doctor. Linett graduated from FIU with a Bachelor in Biology and hopes to continue doing research at FIU.
Loreinys Perez, Research Assistant
Loreinys graduated from FIU in 2014 with a degree in Psychology. Loreinys worked on our grant funded TEAM-UP for Kids project where she helped us examine the role of teacher language on preschool children's developing spatial and language abilities. As of Fall 2016, Loreinys is in her second year in the Counseling Education Master's Degree Program; her specialty is Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Loreinys is a member of Chi Sigma Iota (Counseling Academic and Professional Honor Society). She also works for the Housing and Residential Life Department at FIU.
Lorena Perez, Research Assistant
Lorena is a senior majoring in psychology and has been working on the Project for Language and Spatial Development for over a year. She is interested in developmental and clinical/counseling psychology, specifically the child population.
Vanessa Perez, Research Assistant
Vanessa is graduated from FIU with a Psychology degree and she is earning a certificate in Conflict and Dispute Resolution. As of Fall 2016, Vanessa is a graduate student at Barry University in the School Psychology program obtaining her master's degree. For the last 2 years, Vanessa has been working at a Miami-Dade County Public Schools as a paraprofessional in an E/BD (Emotional/Behavioral Disorder) classroom.
Ella Pulido, Honors College Student
Ella Pulido has bachelors in Psychology with a focus in literacy and language development. While at PLSD Ella was working on our TEAM-UP project. She was former president of the National Student Speech, Language, and Hearing Association (NSSLHA) chapter at FIU during the 2015-2016 school year, and we were awarded "Gold Chapter Award" by the NSSLHA. Ella is now enrolled in FIU's M.S. Speech-Language Pathology program. She was awarded a graduate scholarship by FIU's Young Alumni Council and also Sertoma. She is now a graduate student clinician at Specialized Speech Center. From these clinical experiences,she has found a passion for working with individuals with ASD and cochlear implants. She plans to graduate in August 2017 and will then begin her journey to become a licensed Speech-Language Pathologist.
Eduardo Ramirez, Research Assistant
Spring 2014 - Fall 2014
Eduardo worked on two projects at the Project on Language and Spatial Development: Spatial Word Comprehension and Words in Space. Eduardo is interested in pursuing a law degree and as an undergraduate is majoring in Philosophy with a minor in Communication Ethics.
Nadine Ramirez, Research Assistant
Nadine Ramirez is currently a Junior pursuing a major in Psychology and a minor in Spanish. She aims to one day become either a clinical psychologist or a psychiatrist while focusing on depression and treating that. The areas of research Nadine is interested include developmental psychology as well as research on depression and the physical effects that has on the brain. Nadine hopes to gain research experience during her involvement in the developmental research lab and use that information to further conduct her own research on how the development of a child affects the development of depression and other mental illnesses later in life.
Marcela Ramos, Honors College Student
Fall 2013-Summer 2015
Marcela graduated with a double degree in psychology and international relations. While in the PLSD lab she studied gender differences and stereotypes possibly influencing cognitive processes such as mental rotation. Marcela is starting a Ph.D. program in Child Clinical Psychology at FIU in Fall 2017 where she will work with Dr. Bill Pelham studying children with ADHD.
Robert Regalado, Research Assistant
Robert is currently an undergraduate student pursuing a degree in English. He is very interested in linguistics, which led him to apply to the accelerated program in linguistics, right here, at FIU; he hopes to begin this program this year. His goal is to obtain his Ph.D. in Linguistics to become a professor. His current interests include experimental and theoretical syntax as well as the interface between syntax and semantics.
Katiarina Rodriguez, Research Assistant
Katiarina is a senior at Florida International University pursuing a degree in Psychology with a minor in International Communications. After graduating with her bachelors she will pursue her PhD in Clinical Psychology. She will focus her research on the dynamics of depression and suicide, looking at it from a global perspective, in hopes of having a successful career in helping those struggling with mental health issues. While at PLSD, she will be helping out with the Neural Mechanisms of Physics study as well as helping with data collection for a mental rotation study with adults.
Daniela Salazar, Research Assistant
Summer 2013 - Fall 2014
Daniela graduated from FIU with a Bachelor's Degree in Psychology. She was an integral member of our lab working both on TEAM-UP for Kids and the Sex Differences Study. Daniela will be starting the University of Miami's School of Law in Fall 2015.
Brittany Sealy, Post-Baccalaureate Research Assistant
Brittany graduated from FIU with a Bachelor's in Psychology. She is interested in autism and language development and plans on pursuing a Master's in Speech-Language Pathology.
Lauren Shepard, Research Assistant
Summer 2016 - Fall 2018
Lauren is a junior at FIU majoring in Psychology and Communication Arts. After she graduates, she will pursue her Ph.D. in Organizational Psychology. She is interested in leadership in the workplace in correlation to personal activity. She is currently working on a project that compares traditional and modeling physics students in the PLSD lab.
Evan Soto Harrison, MARC U*STAR Fellow
Fall 2016 - Fall 2018
Evan is a junior, currently dual majoring in psychology and computer science. He intends to pursue a master’s in computer science and a doctorate in educational psychology. His primary interests lie within the field of education, looking to further our understanding and application of psychological constructs within current educational models. He plans to research intellectually gifted and special education populations, trying to understand the interaction between social, emotional, and intellectual factors, and their influence in the development of motivation, mental health, and academic achievement. Currently, Evan is working on two studies; the first looks to examine a correlation between anxiety disorders in children and their ability to process emotional words and map them. The other study observes the effects of flipped classrooms on the development of spatial reasoning. His career interests include lecture, research, educational software development, and starting a private school for exceptional students. In June 2018, Evan received the MARC U*Star Fellowship to continue his work in our lab.
Shwetha Srikanth, Graduate Student
Fall 2011 - Summer 2014
Shwetha completed her Master's degree in Developmental Science at FIU in Summer 2014. Shwetha is now working towards a degree in Counseling Psychology at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania where she lives with her husband and son.
Ifrah Waheed, Honors College Student
Ifrah is double majoring in Chemistry and Psychology with a minor in Biology. She is currently on the pre-medical track in hopes of attending Medical School and becoming a Pediatric Surgeon. While working in the PLSD lab, Ifrah assisted with the studies of adult mental rotation.
Ana Violante, Research Assistant
Fall 2017 - Spring 2018
Ana is a Senior at Florida International University, pursuing a degree in Psychology with a minor in Criminal Justice. After graduating with a Bachelors, she will go on to pursuing a Masters in Developmental Psychology, with a focus on Developmental Delays.
Rachel Warman, Undergraduate Research Assistant
Spring 2018 - Spring 2019
Rachel graduated from Florida International University, with a degree in psychology in Spring 2019. While at PLSD, Rachel was working on a new study exploring the role of executive function, working memory, and language on children's spatial abilities. Rachel is now pursuing a master's degree in mental health counseling at FIU. She would like to provide supports and strategies children and adolescents, in collaboration with their families, who are living with a chronic illness.
Mellissa Wilmot, Research Assistant
Fall 2016 - Fall 2017
Mellissa Wilmot is an undergraduate senior currently pursuing her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology as well as a Certificate in Global Black Studies. She plans on obtaining her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology. Her research interests include infant language acquisition as it relates to accents, second languages, vocabulary development and reading skills as well as the role of racial stereotypes and its psychological effect on children’s development. She is currently working on the Parent Talk Project which examines the role of parent spatial talk on young children’s spatial ability. Through this study she hopes to gain experience and knowledge on children’s spatial and language skills.
Nicolas Zapata, Research Assistant
Fall 2016 - Fall 2017
Nicolas is a senior, majoring in Psychology and Political Science. He plans on earning a Psy.D with a focus on adolescent therapy and counseling. He is currently working on the Neural Mechanisms of Physics Learning Project, which compares students enrolled in traditional physics lectures and students in physics modeling classes.
Andrea Zurita, Research Assistant
Andrea is a psychology major with a minor in biology. She is planning on getting her Psy.D. and specialize in childhood development. While at the PLSD lab, she worked on the parent talk project, in which she examined the role of parent spatial talk on young children's spatial abilities.