• 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.

Graduate Student


Laura Zimmermann

Laura Zimmermann is a fourth year PhD candidate 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 and her MA in Psychology from Georgetown in 2014. 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 Staff


Herietta Lee

Herietta Lee graduated from Georgetown University in 2014 with a BA in psychology minoring in Theology. She loves working with children and has always been interested in early child development. She is currently taking a gap year and is applying to dental schools. She is excited to continue her work from her undergraduate studies and hopes to carry over this experience to her future studies in becoming a pediatric dentist.

Tish Kashani

Tish Kashani has experience as a counselor and teacher with special needs children and adults and in administration in small business and environmental organizations. With her long-term interest in early development, she's excited to volunteer with ELP's staff and students as well as learn more about its current research with young children.

Research Assistants


Ruthie Speidel

Ruthie Speidel is a senior in the college majoring in Psychology. She is writing her senior honors thesis examining the relationship between imitation and working memory development. 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. In addition to working in the lab, Ruthie is also a member of Georgetown Women’s Rowing Team.

Sydney Simmons

Sydney Simmons is a senior in the College majoring in Psychology. 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.

Courtney Nugent

Courtney Nugent is a senior 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.

Christine Cha

Christine Cha is a junior in the College majoring in Biology of Global Health with a minor in Economics. She is also pre-med and hopes to pursue a career in pediatrics or pediatric psychiatry because she loves working with children. She joined the Early Learning Project her freshman year and is very excited about her work with the Magnet Study, and she hopes that her experience at the ELP will carry over into her future medical career.

Caroline Musslewhite

Caroline Musslewhite is a junior 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 sophomore 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. 



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