Loyola University Chicago

Children's Memory and Learning

Research Team

‌ Meet the members of our lab!

Dr. Catherine Haden

‌‌Graduate School: Emory University (1995)

Undergraduate: Wake Forest University (1989)

Current: Professor of Psychology at Loyola University Chicago (since 1997)

Interests: Information about Dr. Haden's research and teaching interests is available here

When she isn't working, Dr. Haden enjoys watching her daughter swim, and her son run, and walking her dog Sugar.



Dr. Graciela Solis

Current: Post-doctoral Fellow, Engaging Engineering Experts Project‌‌

Graduate School: University of California, Santa Cruz

Undergraduate: Roosevelt University

About: Graciela is very passionate about research and social justice. Specifically, she is interested in how children’s literacy and science-related skills develop in social and cultural contexts and whether these skills are recognized by educators. Her doctoral research examined whether mothers from three cultural communities varied in their overall narrative talk and in their life lesson and academic elaborations in two storytelling contexts. Her goal, is to use her work examining conversational practices at home to help implement changes that will aid children from non-dominant communities succeed in school. ​


Diana Acosta‌‌

Current:  Doctoral Graduate Student, Developmental Psychology

Undergraduate:  University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), BA Psychology, Suma Cum Laude

About: Diana's research interests include: understanding how children are learning about STEM at the museum, children’s narrative reflections, identifying ways that parents can scaffold their children’s learning, and cultural variations in informal learning. In her free time, Diana enjoys watching and attending Chicago Blackhawks hockey games, watching Netflix, and playing with her nephew.


Lauren Pagano

Current: Doctoral Graduate Student, Developmental Psychology

Undergraduate: Loyola University Chicago, BS Psychology, Magna Cum Laude & Psychology Honors

About: Lauren gained an interest in parent-child interactions and children’s informal learning when working in the Children’s Memory and Learning Lab as an undergraduate. She plans to continue researching this topic in graduate school. When outside of the lab, Lauren enjoys creative writing, drawing, animation, and voice acting.




Autumn Crowe

Current: Project Coordinator, Tinkering and Reflection Project

Undergraduate: BS Psychology, Loyola University Chicago

About: Autumn has enjoyed the opportunity to work with cross-sectional data, and learn more about research in service-to-practice. In addition, she has been able to explore her interest in parent and child interactions through the lens of parent engagement with their children in an informal learning environment. Autumn plans to pursue a  Ph.D. in child clinical psychology with an emphasis in pediatric psychology. Apart from her research endeavors, Autumn enjoys cheering for the Cubs, watching Netflix, brunch dates with friends, and spending time with her family and pets


Meriem Sadoun

Current: Project Coordinator, Engaging Engineering Experts Project

Undergraduate: BS Psychology, Loyola University Chicago

About: Meriem has conducted research domestically and abroad in Tunisia, England and South Africa. Her current research explores the social influences on the athletic experiences of young Muslim women on high school sports teams. Meriem is excited to be working with the Tinkering Reflection And Engineering Learning (TRAEL) project at the Children’s Memory Lab because of it’s focus on narrative formation. She hopes to continue developing her technical skills in storytelling and applied research.


 Undergraduate Research Assistants  


Kiersten Dietrick

About: Kiersten is a third-year Psychology major and is working towards becoming a psychiatrist with an interest in children. By working in the lab, she hopes to gain a better understanding of how minds develop at a young age. Kiersten believes an essential part of helping future patients is to have a solid understanding of how the mind works. In her free time, you can catch her hanging out with her sorority sisters in Phi Sigma Sigma, taking a nap or playing guitar. 


Ashley Prabakar

About: Ashley is a Health Systems Management major and is pursuing a future in medicine, specifically in pediatric medicine. By working with the Children's Memory and Learning Study, she hopes to learn more about observational research and gain skills in different research methodologies. In her free time, Ashley enjoys baking, running, and watching X-Factor. 

Sydney Kamuda

About: Sydney is a senior undergraduate student working towards her BS in Psychology with a double-minor in Criminal Justice and Visual Communications. She is planning on pursuing a Registered Behavioral Technician’s certificate and a Masters’ degree in Applied Behavioral Analysis. In the past, Sydney has worked at Lurie Children’s Hospital as a family learning center volunteer and at Seattle Children’s Theater as a teaching assistant. Her research interests include autism spectrum disorder and the influence of environments and family education on infantile development.

Alejandra Jimenez

About: Ale is a senior undergraduate pursuing a BS in Psychology with a minor in Studio Art. She loves to work with children and hopes to work with children in the psychology field in the future. She hopes to broaden her knowledge about children's learning and memory while working in this lab. In her free time she likes to dance, watch Netflix, and play with her dog.

Lourdes Rendon

About: Lourdes is currently a senior majoring in Psychology. She hopes to gain new skills, more research experience and knowledge in the lab. She is interested in children’s learning, cognition, and memory processes as well as how children’s brains develop, change, and rewire throughout their experiences. She sees herself working as a pediatric clinical neuropsychologist or a pediatric neurologist in the future! In her free time, Lourdes enjoys running, exercising, and exploring new places all around the city of Chicago.

Krina Patel

About: Krina is a junior at Loyola University Chicago, and this is her first experience working in a research lab. This past summer, she interned as a Human Resource Intern at James Martin Associates. She has a strong interest in the field Industrial Organization Psychology (I/O) field and hopes to go to grad school for I/O. During this lab experience, she looks forward to learning different lab techniques and gain experience with the different programs that are used in the Children's Memory and Learning lab. Additionally, she hopes to improve her analytical and critical thinking skills. In her free time, Krina enjoys baking, running, and watching YouTube videos.

Charlene Cortez

About: Charlene is a third-year Psychology major on the pre-med track. She wants to pursue a career in the medical field as a physician, with a focus in pediatrics. She became involved with the Children’s Memory and Learning Study to learn more about the workings in the minds of children, and to gain experience in a research setting. Outside of school, Charlene volunteers at Presence St. Joseph’s Hospital emergency room and enjoys exercising, trying new foods, and spending time with her friends and family.

Jacqueline James

About: Jacky is a Cellular-Molecular Neuroscience major with a minor in Bioethics. After graduation, she plans on attending medical school and to one day practice psychiatry. As a research assistant, she hopes to gain a better understanding of developmental psychology and learn about conducting and analyzing observational research. In her free time, Jacky likes to paint and draw, watch travel food shows, and spend time with her friends and family.

Megan Bailey

About: Megan is a Psychology major working toward becoming a pediatric occupational therapist. By working in the lab, she hopes to broaden her interest in working with children and gain research skills. In her free time, she enjoys riding horses and watching crime shows.

Julia Ilecki

About: Julia Ilecki is currently a freshman at Loyola University Chicago, pursuing a double major in psychology and sociology. After finishing her undergraduate degree, she hopes to pursue her masters and Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology. In her free time, Julia enjoys reading and watching romantic comedies.

Brianna Smith

About: Brianna is a third-year Psychology major interested in developmental psychology and working with children. She plans on attending graduate school to earn her Masters and become a Specialist in Psychology (PsyS) in the School Psychology field. Brianna is excited to learn more about children’s memory and learning by being a part of this research team. In her free time, Brianna likes to listen to music, go to concerts, and find new vegan restaurants.


Lab Alumni

Maria (Mia) Marcus, Ph.D. (2016)

Assistant Professor, Roosevelt University

Erin Wilkerson, Ph.D. (2011)

Visiting Assistant Professor, Binghamton University

Nora Brodson Benjamin, Ph.D. (2007)

Instructor, College of Lake County

Karen Kolmodin MacDonell, Ph.D. (2006)

Research Associate Professor, Pediatric Prevention Research Center, Wayne State University

Amy Hedrick, Ph.D. (2006)

Associate Professor, Lenoir-Rhyne College

Sam Fazio, Ph.D. (2005)

Director of Medical and Scientific Relations, Alzheimer's Association

Part-Time Faculty, Northeastern Illinois University

David Rudek, Ph.D. (2004)

Associate Professor, Aurora University

Barbara Havlik O’Brien, Ph.D. (2002)

Lecturer in Psychology, Washington University in Saint Louis