• Parents

Our Team

Project Director


Rachel Barr, Ph.D.

Associate Professor  

I was trained as a developmental and clinical psychologist in New Zealand. Since 2001 I have been director of the Georgetown Early Learning Project. We have shown that babies, toddlers and young children pick up information from a variety of sources, from television, from books, from computers, from touchscreens, from siblings, and across contexts. There are still many open questions about how babies and young children learn and remember. Psychology Department webpage.

Lab Manager


Amanda Grenell

Amanda Grenell graduated from the University of Virginia in 2012 with a BA in Psychology and Spanish.  She enjoyed being a research assistant in the Child Study Center at the University of Virginia and is glad she will get the opportunity to continue to work with children and to gain additional research experience. In the future, Amanda hopes to attend graduate school to study Developmental Psychology or Public Health. She is particularly interested in how children learn from different types of media and how research can be used to better public policy and the health of others.

Graduate Students


Laura Zimmermann

Laura Zimmermann is a third year student with a concentration in Human Development and Public Policy. Through the Georgetown Early Learning Project she is investigating the role that media sources play in infants' learning and memory processes. She is currently involved in a project at the Smithsonian Museum of Natural History examining imitation mechanisms and working memory in toddlers. Another current project is a touchscreen study looking at infants' ability transfer learning across dimensions and the effect of context in this process. She is also examining working memory development across infancy and early toddlerhood. Laura received her BA in Psychology, with a minor in American Sign Language, from the University of Rochester in 2011. She has previously worked at the University of Rochester's Baby Lab and was an intern at the Laboratory for Developmental Studies at Harvard University. 

Research Assistants


Kelly Smith

Kelly Smith is a senior in the College majoring in Psychology and minoring in Philosophy and Linguistics. She became interested in child development after spending several years working in preschool classrooms with the Jumpstart program. In addition to working in the lab, she is a member of the Georgetown Pep Band. She is writing her senior honors thesis on the Baby Elmo project, examining the relationship between incarcerated parents’ perceptions of their children and the quality of their parent-child interactions. She hopes to attend graduate school in developmental psychology.

Lovika Kalra

Lovika Kalra is a senior in the College as a Psychology major and pre-dental student. She joined the ELP lab in January 2012 because of her love for kids and interest in child development and cognition. As a bilingual, she loves working on ELP's bilingual studies to help determine the differences between monolingual and bilingual children. Along with working in the ELP, she is on the board for the Hindu Students Association and choreographs Bollywood dance for Rangila. She was also a committee member for Relay for Life. Lovika is excited to gain experience working with children and hopes to apply these skills to her future career as a pediatric dentist.

Herietta Lee

Herietta Lee is a junior in the College majoring in Psychology and possibly minoring in Biology and Theology. She loves working with children and has always been interested in early child development. She is currently pre-health and hopes to pursue a career in the health field working with children. This is her first semester working at the lab as a part of the Magnet study.

Christina Sharkey

Christina Sharkey is currently a junior in the Georgetown College, majoring in psychology and minoring in cognitive science and economics. On campus, she is on the executive board of Georgetown's Relay for Life and plays club volleyball. Christina is enthusiastic about working with the ELP because she has enjoyed working with children through various mentoring and coaching programs. She is eager to learn more about childhood development through her work on the Zoo Project. Although she is uncertain about her future plans in the field of psychology, she hopes her involvement with the ELP will provide a strong foundation in psychological research.

Sydney Simmons

Sydney Simmons is a junior in the College majoring in Psychology. She joined the Early Learning Project in early 2013 because she loves kids and has always been interested in childhood development. She can't wait to learn more about young children and current research through her work in the lab!

Courtney Nugent

Courtney Nugent is a junior in the College, majoring in Psychology and minoring in French and Linguistics. On campus, Courtney is one of the founders of GU Signs, Georgetown’s Deaf Culture and American Sign Language Club. She has always loved working with children and is looking forward to applying this passion of hers to her interest in Psychology. She is excited to be gaining valuable research experience on the Zoo Project, as she prepares for a career in the field of psychology.

Shannon Reilly

Shannon Reilly is a junior in the College majoring in psychology and double minoring in English and Education, Inquiry, and Justice. She joined the Early Learning Project last semester working primarily on the Baby Elmo Project. Shannon hopes to pursue psychology after graduation in the form of a Ph.D. in either clinical, counseling, or educational psychology, and aspires to continue to work with children throughout her career. She thoroughly enjoys working on different stages of the research process through various studies at the ELP. When she is not in the lab, Shannon works with primarily bilingual preschoolers as a team leader at Jumpstart, which inspired her to get involved in the bilingual research going on at the ELP. She also works as a copy deputy at The Hoya.

Ruthie Speidel

Ruthie Speidel is a junior in the college majoring in Psychology. Her interest in the field of Developmental Psychology originated with her love of working with kids. She spent many summers working as a swim instructor, an experience that has fueled her fascination into the inner workings of how children acquire new information and learn. She is excited to be a part of the Baby Elmo Team and the Zoo Team. She looks forward to applying her interest in child development to a lab setting and to acquiring new and useful research skills through her work on these projects. In addition to working in the lab, Ruthie is also a member of Georgetown Women’s Rowing Team.

Christine Cha

Christine Cha is a pre-med sophomore in the College and intends to major in either Neurobiology or Psychology. She hopes to pursue a career in medicine and she also wants to work with children. She joined the Early Learning Project because she is interested in cognitive development and because she loves interacting with children. She is very excited to contribute to the lab and learn more about children and childhood development.

Caroline Musselwhite

Caroline Musslewhite is a sophomore in the College majoring in Psychology, with a double minor in Theology and Spanish. She joined the Early Learning Project in spring of 2014 and is fascinated with the cognitive and social development of infants. She is hoping her work with the Baby Elmo Project will provide a further foundation in child development and attachment.

Rosa Cuppari 

Rosa Cuppari is a freshman in the School of Foreign Service majoring in Science, Technology, and International Affairs. She has worked with children in summer camps and classrooms and looks forward to adding another facet to her experience. Having grown up bilingual, Rosa is particularly interested in how learning two languages at an early age affects a child's lifetime of learning and hopes to combine this personal interest with the Magnet Study. 

Abby Lindsay 

Abby Lindsay is a freshman in the College majoring in Psychology. She joined ELP in 2014 because she loves working with children and hopes to apply what she learns doing development research later on in her career. Abby first became interested in Psychology when she worked with disabled people in Ecuador last year, and hopes that her passion for the study will lead her to a fulfilling career. She plays ultimate frisbee and is a member of GIVES on campus.  



Natalie Brito

Natalie Brito earned her PhD from Georgetown in 2013 and is now a Robert Wood Johnson Health and Society post-doctoral research fellow at Columbia University. She is working with Dr. Kim Noble in the Neurocognition, Early Experience, and Development lab (NEED) where she is examining how early environmental variations shape the trajectory of cognitive development. 

Elizabeth (Beth) Zack

Beth Zack earned her PhD from Georgetown in 2010 and completed a post-doctoral research fellowship with Dr. Andrew Meltzoff at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) at the University of Washington in 2012. She is now an Outreach Specialist at I-LABS, where she disseminates scientific findings to the community, including early learning providers, educators, parents and policymakers. 


Deborah Linebarger

University of Iowa

Peter Gehardstein

Binghamton University

Francys Subiaul

George Washington University

Harlene Hayne

University of Otago

Carole Shauffer

Just Beginning