Our Director


Ece Demir-Lira, Ph.D.

Director - Development, Experience and Neurocognition Lab

Assistant Professor - Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences/Pediatrics

Dr. Demir-Lira received her PhD from the University of Chicago and completed her postdoctoral work at the University of Chicago and Northwestern University. Her research program is aimed at understanding how early environmental and biological factors interact in predicting children's academic outcomes - in both typically-developing children and children with atypical developmental trajectories. Her work leverages a diverse array of methods, including naturalistic parent-child observations, experimental designs and neuroimaging methods (MRI, fMRI and fNIRS). Representative publications can be viewed on GoogleScholar.

Email: ece-demirlira@uiowa.edu
Office: PBSB 275
Résumé/Curriculum Vitae: PDF icondemirlira_cv_jan20.pdf



Research Coordinator

Haley Laughlin

Haley is the Lab Coordinator for the DEN Lab. She graduated from the University of Iowa's psychology program. She hopes to pursue a career in research that focuses on the study of the mechanisms of emotion and the environmental factors that influence a child's emotion regulation success. In her free time, she enjoys writing, reading, rollerblading, and concerts.

Graduate Research Assistants

Ying Li

Ying is a PhD student in the cognition program. She is interested in better understanding the mechanisms underlying neural synchronization between children and their caregivers, especially fathers. She used to do research with monkeys in her master's program- so she posted the photo of a cute monkey and a tiny herself. Another picture was taken in the Forbidden City - her favorite place in Beijing. In her free time, she enjoys swimming, reading, and spending time with friends and family.

Paige Nelson

Paige is a PhD student in the individualized training program, with a focus in developmental science. She is interested in studying plasticity in the developing brain and specifically neurocognitive development in children born premature. In her free time, she enjoys hiking, reading, and spending time with friends and family. 

Email: paige-nelson@uiowa.edu


Francesca Scheiber

Francesca is a Ph.D. student in the clinical psychology program. She is interested in studying socioeconomic differences in early childhood experiences that influence children’s academic, cognitive, and socioemotional outcomes. In her free time, she enjoys time with family and friends, travel, and yoga. 



Undergraduate Research Assistants

Sabrina Brown

Sabrina is a neuroscience major with a minor in gender, health, and health care equity. She is planning on going to graduate school and pursuing a career in neuroscience research. In her free time, she enjoys reading and listening to music.



Annamaria Iarrapino

Annamaria is a Psychology major with minors in human relations and educational psychology. Her research interests focus on children's academic development. She loves working and playing with kids! Annamaria is interested in a future career where she can help kids thrive and grow in their life.


Laxmi Annapureddy


Hayley Bassett

Hayley is pursuing a BA in Psychology on the Pre-Medicine Track with a minor in Sports Studies. In her free time, she enjoys playing sports, travelling, and spending time with her family and friends. 

Eden Conroy

Eden is doing a double major in Psychology and Education Studies and Human Relations, with a Minor in Music, and a Certificate in Resilience and Trauma Informed Perspectives. In her free time, she enjoys playing cello, watching movies, and spending time with friends. 


Emily Krogstad

Emily is a rising junior pursuing BAs in Psychology and Criminology with a minor in Music. She intends to pursue higher education in the psychology fields, but for now she enjoys listening to music and spending time with her dog, London.

Isabelle Farmer

Isabelle is pursuing her B.S. in Neuroscience. She is interested in research of the brain, especially with the usage of brain imaging techniques.  Being the eldest child in her family on all sides, she has been surrounded by children ever since she can remember! She is very excited to work with the DEN lab to interact with children and learn more about the brain/behaviors. In her free time, she likes to golf or play with her dog, Daisy!

Callahan Morton

Callahan is a sophomore pursuing her B.S. in Psychology with a minor in French. She is interested in studying maternal and infant mental health. She plans to go to graduate school for Psychology. Callahan can’t imagine not working with children! She loves spending time with family, babysitting, reading about the brain, and baking when she isn't studying. She is overjoyed to be a member of the DEN Lab!


We also have many wonderful research collaborators:

  • Bob McMurray (University of Iowa)
  • Kelli Ryckman (University of Iowa)
  • Ilaria Berteletti (Gallaudet University)
  • Tilbe Göksun (Koç University)
  • Aylin C. Kuntay (Koç University)
  • Susan C. Levine (University of Chicago)
  • Susan Goldin-Meadow (University of Chicago)
  • Steve Raudenbush (University of Chicago)
  • Steve Small (University of California - Irvine)
  • James R. Booth (Vanderbilt University)

Graduates of the DEN Lab

We are proud of and miss our RAs who graduates from the DEN and went on to accomplish bigger and better things!:

  • Shania Enriquez (Direct Support Professional, Independent)
  • Emily Sones (Masters in Counseling, University of Iowa) 
  • Alexis Potocki (Recruiter, Motion Recruitment)
  • Stephanie LeBlanc
  • Raquel Gomez
  • Nateshia Wilson (Doctorate of Medicine, Meharry Medical College, Nashville, Tennesse)
  • Andrew O'Neill (Digital Marketing Specialist, Clickstop Inc.)
  • Megan Schumer (Research Technician Associate, University of Michigan, Department of Psychiatry and Neuropsychology)
  • Julianne Maxwell
  • Sam  Clingan-Silverly (PhD Student, University of Iowa, College of Education)