top of page


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.

Darcy Smith
Graduate Student

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

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

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

I am a sixth 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 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 as a lab manager at the Online Baby Lab and stayed here as a graduate student. This is now my fifth year with the lab, and I'm glad to see how much I've grown with the lab. I'm very delighted and grateful to be a part of this family. 


Eli Anish

I am a senior pursuing degrees in Psychology and Exercise Science as well as a certificate in Sport Studies. I began working in the BabyLab in the fall of 2022 and I am currently completing my Psychology Honor’s Thesis in the lab. For my thesis, I am exploring the impact of parental interruptions, specifically task-resetting, on infants’ fine motor development. After graduating from Pitt, I plan on going to graduate school to study clinical psychology with a focus on sport/performance psychology. Outside of school, I compete as a long-distance runner and enjoy spending time with my family. 

Kaitlyn Fanrak

Hi I’m Kaitlyn and I am a senior at Pitt studying Psychology. I am also pursuing two certificates in the Conceptual Foundations of Medicine and the Health Humanities. My special interests include disability studies and healthcare disparity. After graduation, I plan on pursuing my Masters in Occupational Therapy and exploring becoming a personal healthcare advocate. Outside of school and the lab, I love drawing, performing in theater, and hanging out with my pet rats!

Screenshot 2023-09-25 at 12.02.50 PM.png
Screenshot 2023-09-25 at 1.14.43 PM.png
Jolie Haertter

Hello, I am Jolie, and I am a senior at Pitt double majoring in Psychology and Gender, Sexuality, & Women's studies. I am also pursuing a minor in Law, Criminal Justice, and Society with Global and Honors distinctions. After graduation, I plan on either obtaining a dual master's in psychology and Gender studies or researching domestically before applying before into a Ph.D. program. Outside of academics, I enjoy swimming, photography, and talking about my black cat Bean.

Elizabeth Downey

Hi, I’m Elizabeth and I am a senior here at Pitt. I am majoring in psychology with a minor in economics. I am particularly interested in developmental psychology and enjoy working with children of various ages. I hope to attend graduate school in the future and pursue a clinical psychology degree. Outside of school, I enjoy reading, baking, and spending time with my friends! 

Natalie Lannie

Hi, I’m Natalie and I am a junior at Pitt. I am a double major in Biology and Psychology. I am also pursuing a certificate in the Conceptual Foundations of Medicine and a minor in chemistry. After graduating, I plan on entering the field of biopsychological research. Outside of school, I enjoy reading, watching tv, and hanging out with my friends!

Alexander Thoi

Hi there, please call me Alex! I'm currently a junior at the University of Pittsburgh, pursuing my Psychology major and certificate in Transnational Asian Studies. I have special interests in clinical child psychology and cultural psychology, and am planning to continue these studies in graduate school through a PhD clinical/developmental psychology program. In my free time, I enjoy singing, playing video games, and exercising.

Isabelle Florent

Hi, I’m Isabelle and I’m a sophomore here at Pitt. I’m majoring in Psychology, minoring in Social Work, and I’m also in the ASL Certificate Program. I’m interested in child psychology and after graduation, I hope to further my education in developmental psychology and language development. In my free time, I enjoy cooking, playing volleyball, and spending time with family and friends!

Lab Alumni

Daniela Casas

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!

Naomi Miller-Edwards

Hi, I’m Naomi! I am a senior 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.


Anushka Regunthwar

Hi, I am Anushka Rengunthwar a sophomore majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology at University of Pittsburgh. I also enjoy creative writing and am pursuing a minor in the same along with Chemistry. I am on the Pre-med track and aspire to be a surgeon one day (way way down the line). I was raised in India, am a dancer, a reader and a big movie buff. 

Cecelia Wu

Hi I’m Cecilia and I am a senior at Pitt majoring in psychology with a minor in music. My special interests include learning environment, interpersonal relationships, and personality. After graduation, I plan on pursuing my Masters in Educational Psychology. I love singing, watching movies on rainy days, and cooking. I'm excited to be in this lab and work with the team!

Izabella Zadrozny
WhatsApp Image 2023-01-20 at 12.35.35 PM.jpeg
Disha Aggarwal

Hi, my name is Disha, and I am a senior 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!

PXL_20220625_144604537_exported_1674863673656 (1).jpg
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.


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.

ashley baby pic.jpeg
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.

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!

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! 

bottom of page