Our Team

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  • Rachel Barr, Ph.D.Project Director

    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.

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  • Joscelin Rocha-Hidalgo

    Joscelin graduated from Berea College, KY in May 2016 with a double major in Psychology and Child & Family Studies with a concentration in Child Development and a minor in French. Her research interests are bilingualism and language acquisition as well as how children learn from media and technology. Joscelin started her post-college journey at the Early Learning Project in the Summer of 2016 as the Laboratory Manager.

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  • Sylvia Rusnak

    Sylvia Rusnak is a third year Psychology PhD student. She is interested in the elements of social interactions that are important for young children’s learning and memory processes, particularly with respect to media sources. Sylvia is studying the neural mechanisms that underlie this learning using functional near infrared spectroscopy (fNIRS). She received her B.A. in Psychology and English, as well as a Minor in French, from Cornell University.

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  • Hannah Ayasse

    Hannah Ayasse is a senior at The George Washington University majoring in Psychology and Dance. She came to Georgetown through a SOAR–Minority Health & Health Disparities fellowship and is conducting research on the Baby Elmo project, examining the relationship between incarcerated teen parents’ gender and the quality of their parent-child interactions. 

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  • Olivia Blanchfield

    Olivia Blanchfield graduated from Georgetown University in 2017 with a degree in Psychology. She became the lab manager of the Early Learning Project in the summer of 2017. Olivia’s work focuses on the Cognitive Flexibility study and projects with the Comprehensive Assessment of Family Media Exposure (CAFE) Consortium. Her interests include how media exposure affects development, the way in which pre-verbal infants transfer learning, as well as the mechanisms of resilience in childhood.

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  • Madeline Lui

    Madeline Lui is a sophomore in the College intending to major in Psychology and minor in Chemistry. She is also pre-med and is very interested in developmental psychology. Currently, Madeline hopes to pursue medical school and to become a cardiologist.  Madeline is now working on the Magnet Study and helping to develop protocols for new tasks.

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  • Maria Jose Rivera

    Maria Jose Rivera is a sophomore in the College majoring in Psychology and minoring in French. Maria Jose is interested in learning about developmental psychology and in the effects of bilingualism on cognition.

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  • Nicholas Strautman

    Nicholas Strautman is a junior in the College majoring in Psychology. He is currently working on the Magnet Study, and is very interested in how children interact and learn. He hopes to further pursue psychology in graduate school.

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  • Julia Tonnessen

    Julia Tonnessen is a junior in the School of Nursing and Health Studies majoring in Health Care Management and Policy. She is working on several projects that study working memory and how children learn from media sources. After graduation, Julia hopes to go to medical school and is considering a pediatric specialty.

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  • Mimi Troxel

    Mimi Troxel is a senior in the College majoring in Psychology and Russian, and minoring in Women’s and Gender Studies. She joined the Early Learning Project in the fall of 2014 and is particularly interested in child psychology. Currently she is working on the Baby Elmo Project and is planning to write her senior honors thesis on a new facet within the Baby Elmo program.