Our Director


Ece Demir-Lira, Ph.D.

Director, Development, Experience and Neurocognition Lab

Assistant Professor, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences

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.

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

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. 

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

Holly Hemann

My name is Holly (as in Holly Jolly Christmas), and I’m a senior studying Biomedical Sciences with an emphasis on Chemistry and Psychology. When I’m not busy with class I love to bake and I’ve recently been trying to open my own vegan bakery!


Julianne Maxwell

I'm a fourth year psychology major and I like to spend time with my friends and family and my two dogs. 

Maria Fernanda

Maria Fernanda is a senior pursuing a Neuroscience major on the Pre-Medicine track. She is also minoring in Philosophy and Psychology. Her dream goal is to become a Psychiatrist as she feels passionate about how the human mind functions, how our cognitive differences come about and the diverse approaches scientists employ to find out the “why” behind distinct human behaviors. A curious individual since birth, her life revolves around learning. When she has time to, she enjoys reading classic literature, watching old movies, watching documentaries and spending time with her loved ones. 


Andrea Ortiz-Santos

Andrea is from Puerto Rico. She is currently an undergraduate in Psychology and Creative Writing. Her current research interests include how culture and language affects cognitive development. She wants to understand the role cultural aspects and language may have in individuals, that may affect their abilities in different topics such as math, literacy, art, music, and others. She loves books, writing and Disney movies.


Megan Schumer

Megan is a sophomore in both the Biology and Psychology majors on the Pre-Medicine track, and she plans on pursuing either pediatric surgery or neurosurgery. She is interested in research surrounding brain development, particularly in the area of abnormal psychology. She also enjoys learning about the relationship between social circumstances and quality of life. 

Raquel Gomez


Stephanie LeBlanc


Lindsey Bach

 I am pursuing my undergraduates in Psychology along with minors in Dance, Spanish, and Educational Psychology. In my free time I like to be active outside and hangout with my dog Stella.

Nateshia Wilson

Nateshia is pursuing a B.S. in Microbiology along with a minor in Environmental Science. In her free time, she enjoys baking, watching movies, and spending time with friends.  

Maria Mutesi


Sabrina Brown


Verona Victoria

Verona is pursuing a B.S. in Psychology along with a minor in Art and Sociology. She is excited to work with kids and enjoys listening to music during her free time! 

Annamaria Iarrapino


Sam Clingan Silverly

Sam graduated from Iowa State University with a B.S. in Psychology. They are dedicating their time to researching gestures and their applications in education. In their free time they like to play video games and watch anime. 

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, traveling, and spending time with her family and friends. 



We also have many wonderful research collaborators:

  • 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
  • Emily Sones (University of Iowa, Master's in Counseling) 
  • Alexis Potocki (Motion Recruitment, Chicago)