Our team

  • Rachel Barr, Ph.D.Director

    Dr. Barr was trained as a developmental and clinical psychologist in New Zealand. Since 2001 she has been director of the Georgetown Early Learning Project. The ELP shows 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.

  • Olivia Blanchfield

    Olivia Blanchfield graduated from Georgetown University 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.

  • 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.

Joscelin Rocha-Hidalgo
  • Joscelin Rocha-Hidalgo

    Joscelin is currently a Ph.D. candidate in Psychology with a concentration on Lifespan Cognitive Neuroscience at Georgetown University. She works on projects focused on Bilingualism and Cognition. Her target populations are infants and toddlers. Her training includes techniques such as fMRI (adults), fNIRS, and Eye-Tracking. Joscelin started her post-college journey at the Early Learning Project in the Summer of 2016 as the lab manager.

  • Ellen Roche

    Ellen Roche works in early childhood advocacy and philanthropy at Trust for Learning. She is interested in infant and toddler emotional regulation, racial equity, and language. She holds an M.Ed. from Harvard University and bachelor’s degrees in English and Music from the University of Maryland.

  • Olivia Mirek

    Olivia Mirek is a senior at Georgetown University majoring in psychology and government in the Georgetown College. She has worked on the Just Beginnings Project, Connect to Baby Program, and the Reference Selection Task in the Cognitive Flexibility study. She is currently working on the CAFE Consortium and the PLAY studies. She is interested in the effects of childhood stressors on child development and learning, and she intends to pursue her doctorate degree in developmental psychology to further research in education policy and reform. 

  • Jenna Ryu

    Jenna Ryu is a senior in the College majoring in psychology and minoring in journalism. She is currently working on the Grandparenting in the Digital Age study. She aspires to go to graduate school to get her Ph.D. and pursue clinical psychology.

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  • Kate Freda

    Kate Freda is a junior in the College majoring in Psychology and Biology of Global Health. She is currently working on the Cognitive Flexibility study. Kate is on the pre-med track and planning to attend medical school after graduation.

  • Samantha Steimle

    Sam Steimle is a second-year student in the dual degree Masters of Public Policy and Ph.D. in the Psychology program at Georgetown. Previously, she received her B.S. in Psychology from Fordham University. Her research interests involve analyzing the unique stressors that affect low-income children and families, and exploring interventions that promote positive child development and outcomes via a two-generation approach.

  • Kimberly Chanchavac

    Kimberly Chanchavac is a senior at Georgetown majoring in Psychology and minoring in Public Health. She has worked with the Cognitive Flexibility study and is currently working on the Video Chat study. She is interested in early childhood development and intervention strategies. She hopes to one day get her Ph.D in Psychology.