Our research team includes people at all levels of education who are interested in cognition, learning, and development. Cognitive science is an inherently interdisciplinary field, so our team includes people who are interested in cognitive psychology, developmental psychology, neuroscience, education, learning science, computer science, philosophy, linguistics, anthropology, statistics, and mathematics! Our students go on to graduate school, medical school, law school, teaching, social work, consulting, and more!
Nicole McNeil is the director of the CLAD Lab at the University of Notre Dame. She is a professor of psychology and holds an ACE College Chair. She received her B.S. from Carnegie Mellon and her Ph.D. from University of Wisconsin. She did a postdoc at Yale. Her research focuses on learning and development in the areas of mathematical cognition, symbolic understanding, quantitative reasoning, and problem solving. Prof. McNeil is a member of the CBB area group in the psychology department. She is also affiliated with the Education Schooling and Society program on campus and is a Fellow of the Institute for Educational Initiatives, which houses the ND PIER program and the ND Center for STEM Education. She is also a LEO faculty affiliate and serves on the Restorative Justice in Education Committee for the SBCSC and founded TutorND. In her spare time, she serves as an Associate Editor for Cognitive Science ;) For more information, check out her CV, email email@example.com, follow her on Twitter, or listen to her on the podcast Think. Pair. Share.
Patrick Kirkland is an assistant professor in the Institute for Educational Initiatives. He teaches courses in elementary mathematics methods for ACE Teaching Fellows and research methods for the education, schooling, and society program. He also continues to lead the NSF-funded mature number sense project and collaborates with the CLAD Lab. Prior to obtaining his Ph.D. in psychology, he taught middle school math as an ACE Teaching Fellow in Savannah, GA and then working for the ACE team here on campus. Patrick is interested in how middle school students solve word problems and make sense of numbers in their math classrooms. He is particularly interested in how to measure and improve students' number sense.
Kelly-Ann Gesuelli is a postdoctoral research associate in the CLAD Lab and the Institute for Educational Inititiatives. Prior to joining the University of Notre Dame, she received her Ph.D. in Education at the University of Delaware working w/ Nancy Jordan. Her primary research interests focus on mathematical cognition and instructional supports for students with mathematics difficulties. She is also interested in fostering early STEM success among students with disabilities through the bridging of the fields of mathematics, cognitive science, and special education. Kelly-Ann additionally holds a M.A. and Ed.S. in School Psychology and has several years of experience in the cognitive and academic assessment of students with varying abilities in K-12.
Michelle Luna is a postdoctoral research associate in the CLAD Lab and the Institute for Educational Initiatives. She received her B.A. in Psychology and M.A. in French from the University of Notre Dame. Afterward, she spent a year in France teaching English at the University of Rennes 2. She obtained her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of California, Los Angeles where she studied children's word and category learning with the Language and Cognitive Development Lab. Her current work will focus on implementing various shared book reading interventions, leading the preschool section of TutorND, and examining factors at the intersection of language and cognitive development.
Amy Miyahara is the lab manager of the CLAD Lab. She graduated from Stanford University in 2023 with a B.A. in psychology and a minor in education. In undergrad, she was a research assistant in the Markman Lab, where she worked on a developmental psychology project on how children understand social categories. She also completed an honors thesis in the lab on children's beliefs about social mobility and socioeconomic status. At Stanford, she also served as a first-grade reading tutor. She is broadly interested in using developmental psych research to improve educational outcomes for students, and is excited to be joining the CLAD Lab!
Chineme Jane Otuonye is a graduate student in the CLAD Lab. She graduated from Alcorn State University in 2022 with a B.S. in Psychology. Throughout her undergraduate years, she gained experience as an intern in a variety of developmental psychology labs at several universities. She also interned at the Child Development Learning Center at Alcorn State, where she taught and supported children’s literacy skills. These experiences led to her interest in how educator-child interaction aids children’s learning process and academic outcomes. Prior to joining the lab as a graduate student, Jane worked as a postbacc research-practice associate w/ TutorND. In graduate school Jane hopes to explore the types of dyadic interactions, especially those that occur between educator and child, that facilitate positive developmental outcomes.
Tomás Aguilar-Fraga is a TutorND Instructional Coach and Mathematics Tutoring Specialist working in and with the CLAD Lab. He graduated in 2023 from Harvey Mudd College with a degree in mathematics and a concentration in Chicanx/Latinx Studies. Throughout undergrad, he engaged in higher mathematics research and worked with Academic Excellence, a peer tutoring program. He has also volunteered at La Casa de Amistad, working with Crece Conmigo, an after-school program for K-5th graders. These experiences have led in large part to his interest in pedagogy and teaching, particularly with respect to mathematics. In working with the CLAD Lab, he hopes to understand how to best serve students of all types throughout their learning process.
Trey Cobb is a consultant and instructional coach with the lab. Trey previously taught middle school math as an ACE teaching fellow in New York. After ACE, Trey worked with several non-profits focused on education policy and community building and taught high school math in Chicago. Trey is interested in designing learning environments that connect to and expand Black students' strengths. Trey is passionate about working together with Black students to strengthen cooperative practices of service to the Black community.
Tiana Sullivan is a senior majoring in neuroscience and behavior and Spanish. During her first year at Notre Dame, she tutored students in math and phonics through TutorND and taught Spanish lessons to elementary and middle school-aged students. Her experiences working with children and her interest in understanding the cognitive processes that contribute to learning drew her to the CLAD Lab. After graduation, she hopes to attend graduate school and pursue a career that allows her to work with children and further explore the cognitive development process.
Saachi Kumar is a senior majoring in neuroscience and behavior and gender studies. She joined the CLAD lab due to her interest in understanding the neural processes behind mathematical cognition and improving math education. After graduation, she hopes to attend medical school, with the goal of eventually becoming an Obstetrician/Gynecologist.
Cade Whitsitt is a senior studying neuroscience and behavior in the College of Science. He joined the CLAD lab to conduct research that has an overarching impact on educational practices and to positively impact the South Bend community. After graduation, he plans to attend medical school and become a physician before one day transitioning to teaching.
Sophia Alvarez is a senior pursuing majors in psychology and education, schooling, & society (ESS) with a concentration in learning sciences. She also has minors in philosophy and classics. After taking Dr. McNeil’s Cognitive Science Goes to School course and working with TutorND, she joined the CLAD lab to advocate for evidence-based instructional practices as we work toward a more equitable vision of education. After graduation, she hopes to teach with ACE Teaching Fellows and continue working toward equity in the education system.
Shaker Erbini is a neuroscience and behavior major. He joined the CLAD lab because of his love for tutoring and math. He is interested in understanding how we as humans learn best and implementing these findings in the classroom to help students benefit from this knowledge. He has tutored English as a second language and taught at the Robinson Community Learning Center in South Bend. After graduation, he hopes to go to medical school.
Stephanie Ona is a senior studying neuroscience and behavior with a minor in education, schooling, and society. She joined the CLAD lab to explore her interest in childhood development, teaching and how we can become better educators. After graduation, she hopes to earn a masters in education through ACE Teaching Fellows and attend medical school to eventually become a pediatric neurologist.
Sarah Ochocki is a senior majoring in neuroscience & behavior and education, schooling, and society. She joined the CLAD lab in the hopes of furthering her understanding of the cognitive development of children in schooling, in addition to her passion for working with children. After graduation, she hopes to attend graduate school specializing in cognitive or educational psychology and hopes to specialize in education for students with neurodevelopmental disorders.
Christian Yoder is a senior majoring in neuroscience and behavior with a minor in science and patient advocacy. He joined the CLAD lab to further develop his love of teaching and his interest in how to make education and learning more effective. He currently tutors at the Robinson Community Learning Center in South Bend. After graduation, he hopes to attend medical school.
Rachel Thompson is a senior majoring in psychology and minoring in education, schooling, and society. She is interested in learning how we can use research to improve curriculum, classroom practices, and teaching strategies in order to best serve different populations of students. After graduation, she hopes to become a teacher and eventually take on other roles in the education field.
Emmanuel Levy is a senior majoring in psychology with a minor in theology. He joined the CLAD lab because he is interested in the stages that occur during cognitive development and different ways of intervention to improve that development. After graduation, he plans on attending medical school to become a neurologist.
Emma Sayler is a senior majoring in Psychology with a minor in Education, Schooling, and Society. Emma knew she wanted to be a part of the CLAD Lab after spending a semester tutoring with TutorND. She joined the lab in order to learn more about best teaching practices and how children learn. After graduation, Emma hopes to attend law school and study education law and policy.
Emily is a senior majoring in math and psychology. She joined CLAD lab because of her passion for working with children and her interest in cognitive development and how students learn math. After graduating Notre Dame, she hopes to find a job that combines her interests for math and psychology and allows her to make a positive impact.
Mikayla Copley is a junior from Southwest Michigan majoring in Biology and minoring in Compassionate Care in Medicine and Health Humanities and Society. She has always had an interest in psychology, specifically how cognitive and biological factors interact to affect human development. The focus on children's cognition and development is what drew her to the CLAD Lab, and she hopes to achieve a better understanding of how these processes are formed and developed in children. After graduation, she hopes to attend medical school and pursue a career in pediatrics.
Ashley Utnage is a senior studying Neuroscience and Behavior in the College of Arts and Letters along with Education, Schooling, and Society. Ashley joined the CLAD lab because of her background in working with kids and her overall interest in child development both within and outside the classroom. She is interested in education psychology and research, as well as improving access to quality education for everyone. After graduating, she hopes to pursue this passion with a career in the field of education.
Caroline Bishop is a junior majoring in Psychology with both a Business Economics and Education, Schooling, and Society minor. She has always been interested in Psychology, and she developed a passion for educational equality after completing a Summer Service Learning Program through Notre Dame's Center for Social Concerns where she worked with elementary aged children from high needs school districts. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a graduate degree in a psychology or education related field.
Lauren Lee is a junior studying Neuroscience and Behavior in the College of Arts and Letters along with minors in Poverty Studies and Korean. Lauren joined the CLAD lab because she wanted to know more about cognition in regards to child development and how math fits into that understanding. She has a background in tutoring and working with children, so she is excited to be a part of the CLAD lab's research. After graduation, she plans to go on to medical school and pursue a career in pediatrics.
Hayden Tomlin is a junior from Connecticut majoring in Neuroscience & Behavior with a minor in Innovation & Entrepreneurship. He joined the lab to develop a more comprehensive understanding of child development and learning, and to contribute to projects and educational initiatives focused on closing the educational opportunity gap seen in our local South Bend community. After graduation, he hopes to attend medical school to pursue a career as a physician.
Bridget Blaney is a junior from a suburb around the Twin Cities in Minnesota majoring in Neuroscience and Behavior with a minor in Compassionate Care in Medicine. She joined the lab due to an increased interest in childhood development especially after two summers of working with children in a camp setting. She hopes to learn about the learning processes for children so she may better be a resource to her community. After graduating, she hopes to attend medical school with the goal of becoming a pediatrician
Lauren Barnes is a junior from New York majoring in neuroscience and behavior with a minor in compassionate care in medicine. The CLAD lab piqued her interest due to her experience tutoring elementary school mathematics, her interest in developmental and cognitive psychology, and her mother’s position as a high school mathematics teacher. After graduation, she plans to attend medical school and pursue a career as a physician in a pediatric specialty.
Nicholas Buhay is a senior majoring in science-business with a minor in theology. He joined the CLAD lab because he wanted to study students' cognitive development after a rewarding experience with tutoring. He tutored a 4th-grade student in literacy with TutorND and is excited to work with more students this semester. Nicholas aims to attend medical school upon graduation out of his passion for science and service.
Ella Darrow is a junior in the college of Arts and Letters. She is from a small town in Illinois on the Mississippi River. Her major is Neuroscience and Behavior, with a pre-health concentration. She enjoys learning about the brain and how it functions, especially while it is developing. She is so happy to be part of the CLAD lab!
Jocelyn Santos-Reyes is a junior majoring in Psychology and Economics with a minor in Real estate. She decided to join the CLAD lab because it correlates with her interest in mathematics and developmental psychology. After graduation, she plans to attend graduate school.
Megan Gallagher is a junior from Northern Indiana majoring in Psychology and Sociology with a minor in Peace Studies. She joined the CLAD lab because of her interest in early childhood development as well as inequalities within the education system and how interventions can impact educational attainment. After graduation, she hopes to pursue a graduate degree in Sociology and enter the field of education.
Erin Ward is a senior from Peoria, IL majoring in neuroscience and behavior with minors in compassionate care in medicine and anthropology. She plans on attending Physician's Assistant school after graduation. She joined the CLAD lab because of her interest in understanding how the environment can impact development and cognition.
Daniela Leal is a junior majoring in psychology and minoring in digital marketing. She is interested in learning how children learn and develop in order to later work with children that have special needs for learning. After graduation, she hopes to attend graduate school and pursue a career in the special education area.
Katie Sack is a senior from Rye, New York majoring in Science Professional Studies with a minor in Health, Humanities, and Society. She joined the CLAD lab because she is interested in learning about children’s cognitive development and how to improve the way in which children learn math. After graduation, she hopes to attend medical school.
Brody Rolston is a junior majoring in Neuroscience and Behavior in the College of Science. Drawn to the CLAD lab due to his passion for teaching and desire to better understand the cognitive development of children, he has worked for many years as a tutor to those attending online school and is beyond excited to put his experience to good use with TutorND. After graduation, he hopes to attend medical school in order to realize his dream of one day becoming a psychiatrist.
Riley Bock is a junior studying Neuroscience and Behavior with a minor in Education, Schooling, and Society. She joined the CLAD lab because of her passion for improving educational experiences and her love of working with children. After graduation, she hopes to attend medical school to become a pediatrician.
Undergraduates, this could be you! Check out the info on our Contact Page to learn more about how to join our team.
After the CLAD Lab
- Claire Guang (postbacc research associate '23). Graduate Student in Psychology @ University of Chicago.
- Shannon Celeste ’22 (and postbacc research-practice associate '23). Child Life Specialist Student @ Miami University.
- Nicole Campbell '23. ACE Teaching Fellows.
- Caroline Mohammed ’23. Postgraduate Neuro-oncology Research Technician @ University of North Carolina Chapel Hill.
- Sofia Nakfoor ’23. Fulbright English Teaching Assistant @ Asturias, Spain.
- Alexa Mogan ’23. Graduate Student in Psychology @ Vanderbilt University.
- Maddie Zajas ’23. EMT @ Northwest Indiana.
- Amy Bahadursingh '22. Consultant in Chicago.
- Grace Monagan '22. Corps Member @ Teach For America Indianapolis.
- Grace Fjermedal '22. Postgraduate Research Associate in the Child Study Center @ Yale.
- Ellyn Jarrell '22. Application & Program Analyst @ Deloitte Consulting.
- Isabella Seip '22. Graduate Student in Clinical Psychology @ the University of North Carolina Wilmington.
- Mitchell Kennedy '22. Medical School @ University of Massachusetts.
- Megan Dillon '22. Masters in Speech-Language Pathology @ Vanderbilt.
- Joanna Azar (research associate '21). Math Intervention Specialist in North Carolina.
- Olivia Jazbutis '21. Fulbright English Teaching Assistant in Spain.
- Micaela Maron '21. Clinical Research Assistant @ Brown University.
- Muhammad Mian '21. Behavioral Health Care Coordinator @ University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
- Jisel Gomez '21. ACE Teaching Fellows.
- Connor O'Rear (Ph.D. '20). Postdoc @ Purdue.
- William Huffman '20. Medical School @ Penn.
- Alli VanOverberghe '20. Graduate Student in Education at Teachers College @ Columbia University.
- Alice Felker '20. L'Arche Greater Washington, DC.
- Claire Rudden '20. ACE Teaching Fellows.
- Julia Crant (research-practice staff '19). Nursing School.
- Sara Norwood (research-practice staff '19). Graduate School in Library and Information Science.
- Grace Devitt '19. Research Assistant @ University of Chicago.
- Elizabeth Chen '19. Postgraduate service with Bon Secours volunteer Ministry in Baltimore.
- Wiktoria Kozlowska '19. Mathematics Teacher (6th grade) in Chicago.
- Christina Hayford '19. LU Choice Graduate Student @ Loyola University in Chicago.
- "Lily" Maria Kenesey '19. Graduate Student in Education @ University of Michigan.
- Kimberly Walter '19. Medical School @ Texas A&M.
- Bridget Naylor-Komyatte '19. Postgraduate service with Jesuit Volunteer Corps Northwest.
- Carolina Botero '19. Graduate Student in Education @ Columbia University.
- Megan Miranda (postbacc research associate '18). Graduate Student in School Psychology @ Tufts University.
- Regina Ekaputri '18. ACE Teaching Fellows.
- Rachel Iverson '18. AmeriCorps VISTA member @ North Park University.
- Zosia Zdanowicz '18. Medical School @ Loyola University in Chicago.
- Jenna Galuska '18. Analyst with Huron Consulting Group.
- Caroline Byrd Hornburg (Ph.D. '17). Postdoc @ Purdue University.
- Lauren Crawford (postbacc research associate '17). Graduate Student in Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology @ Boston College.
- Tom Hughes '17. Deloitte in NYC.
- Natalie Vos '17. PACE Teaching Fellows.
- Alex Viegut '17. Graduate Student in Educational Psychology @ University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- Elena Silla '17. ACE Teaching Fellows.
- Shannon Gaylord '17. Masters in Social Work @ University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
- Bri Devlin (postbacc research associate '16). Graduate Student in Learning Sciences @ University of Delaware.
- Ellie Sato '16. Medical School @ University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- Alex Bohnsack '16. ACE Teaching Fellows.
- Taylor Kelly '16. ACE Teaching Fellows.
- Cristina Carrazza (postbacc research associate '15). Graduate Student in Psychology @ University of Chicago.
- Valerie Williams '15. Masters in nursing at NYU.
- Emily Geiger-Medina '15. Mathematica Policy Research.
- Alice Tollaksen '15. Au Pair for family in Paris, France.
- Marisa Rieber '15. PACE in Hawaii.
- Erin Celeste '15. ACE Teaching Fellows @ Notre Dame.
- Grace Bunsa '15. Position in Human Resources.
- Casey Hall '14. Graduate Student in Psychology @ University of Chicago.
- Lori Petersen (Ph.D. '13). Postdoc @ University of Chicago.
- Dana Chesney (postdoc '13). Postdoc @ Ohio State.
- Andrea Renfroe '13. Graduate Student in Speech Language Pathology @ University of Washington.
- Rebecca Kibler '13. French Embassy's Teaching Assistant Program in France then TFA.
- Paul DiGaetano '13. Medical School @ St. George's University.
- Mary McKeever (postbacc research associate '12). Veterinary Medicine School @ Ohio State.
- April Dunwiddie (postbacc research associate '12). Stay at home mom.
- Stephanie Borjas '12. Graduate Student in School Psychology @ University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- Percival Matthews (postdoc '12). Assistant Professor @ University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- Anne Smrek '12. Graduate Student in School Psychology @ Ohio State.
- Mary Wheeler '12. Research Assistant in Psychology @ UT-Dallas.
- Lauren Wester '11. Fullbright Fellow.
- Erica Pepitone '11. Graduate Student in Irish Writing at Trinity College Dublin.
- Emily Fyfe '10. Graduate Student in Psychology @ Vanderbilt University.
- Jenny Heil '10. Graduate Student in Sociocultural Anthropology @ Washington University in St. Louis.
- Noelle Crooks '09. Graduate Student in Psychology @ University of Wisconsin-Madison.
- Matt Gibson '08. Teach For America in Miami.
- Krysten Williams '08. Graduate Student in Psychology @ Rutgers University.