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Dr. Klaus Libertus
Principal Investigator

My research interests examine the role of early motor skill development for the emergence of children’s social and cognition abilities. In particular, I am interested in what factors influence when and how children acquire a new motor milestone and how the motor skills influence the child’s interactions and engagement with the environment. I address this question in typically developing children and in children at risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) using motor training and enrichment paradigms with very young infants to facilitate motor development (e.g., using "Sticky Mittens") and eye tracking assessments to evaluate social perception.

Graduate Student
Darcy Smith

University of Pittsburgh, M.S., 2021 (Psychology)

Vanderbilt University, M.Ed., 2018 (Child Studies)

Vanderbilt University, B.A., 2016 (Psychology, Philosophy)

I am a fifth year Ph.D. student in the Developmental Psychology program. I am interested in studying the longitudinal effects of early motor skill development. More specifically, I study the social, cultural, and biological factors which shape individual differences in motor development across the first two years of life. I also study how early motor skills predict later outcomes in other domains of development, such as executive function, parent-child interactions, and language development. 

Ran An
Graduate Student

University of Pittsburgh, B.S., 2018

I graduated from Pitt in August 2018 with double majors in HR and Finance. Though I was a business student as an undergrad, I’ve always been fascinated by psychology, especially developmental psychology. After graduation, I worked full-time as a student employment coordinator at the Office of Human Resources at Pitt. I’m planning to attend graduate programs with a focus in developmental psychology. I’m very excited and grateful to have the opportunity to learn and grow at the Online Baby Lab.

Daniela Casas
Lab Manager

University of Pittsburgh, B.S., 2020

I graduated from Pitt in August of 2020 as a psychology major and a minor in Spanish Literature. Currently, I am a master student studying Clinical Mental Health Counseling in hopes that I work with children and adolescent within immigrant communities. It is always fascinating to see how early childhood development can be play such an impactful role within everyday life. Whenever I have free time, I am usually playing with my cat or trying to hangout with loved ones and friends!


Izabella Zadrozny

I am a Senior Psychology major working in the Online Baby Lab for my last undergraduate semester. My passion for working with children began when I was an overnight summer camp counselor, and has continued throughout my education. I am interested in learning about the development and social cognition of children and how parent-child interactions play a part in this, so I'm very excited to be a part of the lab. After graduating, I hope to continue my education in the realm of Psychology and Pediatrics.

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Marisleysis Gonzalez

Hi hi, I'm Marisleysis! I am a psychology major with a gender, sexuality, and women's studies minor. I am interested in child psychopathology, etiopathogenesis, and social policy. My hopes are getting my doctorate in clinical psychology to work with children in the near future! In my free time, I enjoy thrifting, collecting tchotchkes, and visiting museums. I am very excited to be part of the BabyLab Online and have the opportunity to grow my knowledge on speech and motor skill development.

Kaitlyn Fanrak

Hi I’m Kaitlyn and I am a junior at Pitt studying Psychology on a pre- Occupational Therapy track. I am also pursuing two certificates in the Conceptual Foundations of Medicine and the Health Humanities. I love working with children and hope to work with kids with special needs or psychomotor delays in my future. Outside of school and the lab, I love drawing, performing in theater, and hanging out with my pet rats!

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Ashley Saunders

I’m a senior psychology major with a minor in gender, sexuality, and women’s studies and a certificate in children’s literature. I am primarily interested in infant language development and personality development in young children and adolescents. After graduation, I intend to pursue an MSW specializing in direct practice, with the aim of working with children and their families in a healthcare setting. Outside of school, I love being out in nature, watching movies, and spending time with friends and family.

Naomi Miller-Edwards

Hi, I’m Naomi! I am a junior psychology major and studio art minor. I am very interested in developmental psychology and want to work with children in the future. Outside of school, I spend a lot of time working on various art projects and exploring outside.

Disha Aggarwal

Hi, my name is Disha, and I am a junior majoring in psychology and minoring in economics here at Pitt. I have a special interest in developmental psychology. I have always enjoyed working with kids and babies. My long term goal is to become an occupational therapist by getting a doctorate post graduation. In my free time I like to crochet and bake and watch TV. I really enjoy being a part of the online BabyLab and am excited to continue my journey!

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Alice (Cheng) Xu

My name is Alice. I'm a senior in psychology major. I'm interested in family and marriage therapy and parenting related topics in general. I'm excited to continue working in this lab and explore the world of babies!

Lab Alumni

Jyothi Thippana

I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in April 2018 with a degree in Neuroscience, along with a minor in Chemistry and a concentration in Psychology. As an undergraduate, I worked at the Kid’s Thinking Lab for three years under Dr. Melissa Libertus. While there, I studied a variety of influences that may predict child math development, such as parent-child interaction. I plan to attend medical school in the near future, and I am specifically interested in the field of primary care. I’m excited to be working at the Online BabyLab and contribute to such important research in infant motor development!

Kelly Barber

I am majoring in psychology here at Pitt, with minors in applied statistics and sociology. I love working with children and have a keen interest in their cognitive and social development. I hope to continue my education and career using my knowledge to help children thrive to their full potential. I am thrilled to begin my first semester in the BabyLab! I cannot wait to see where this research goes in the future and I am so happy to be a part of it.

Alex Harris

I’m Alex! I’m currently studying psychology as a junior at Pitt with a special interest in stress and coping, specifically in those who have been diagnosed with or are recovering from a life-threatening illness. When I’m not studying for exams or doing homework, I love to workout! I lift in the mornings at our gym on campus, but also practice yoga regularly. Above all-else, I love to spend time with my family and friends. I wouldn’t be where I am today without them!

Ciana Lee

Hi, I'm Ciana! I am a junior at the University of Pittsburgh, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Spanish. I have special interests in cognitive and behavioral development in children and adolescents. I intend to focus my graduate and postgraduate career in neuropsychology, in hopes that I can help and influence children positively! Outside of school, I am very involved with my big family and enjoy spending time with all my baby cousins! My interests in helping children stem from my loving family!

Amy Job

Hey guys, I’m Amy! I’m currently a freshman at the University of Pittsburgh majoring in psychology and neuroscience with a minor in Spanish and chemistry. I’m really interested in developmental and abnormal psychology and hope to attend medical school after graduating. If I’m not studying or hanging out with my friends, you can catch me binge watching Netflix or watching the latest episode of the Bachelor. I’m super ecstatic to be working at the Online BabyLab and I can’t wait to see what this semester brings! 

Alexa Kim

Hi, I’m Alexa! I am a junior Psychology major here at Pitt. I am interested in the developmental aspect of childhood and adolescence and hope to go to physical therapy school after graduating. Aside from school, I love spending time with friends and family and exploring new places. I am excited to be a part of Online BabyLab and contribute to the research! 

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