Melissa Libertus


Office: 607 LRDC

Dr. Melissa Libertus' research interests center around the question of how children learn math and why some children struggle with it more than others. She is particularly interested in foundational number skills such as children’s ability to approximate numbers and how these foundations help children acquire mathematical abilities. She uses behavioral methods, eye tracking, and neuroscience techniques (EEG/ERP, fMRI) to study these questions.
What to expect when working with Dr. Libertus as a graduate student

Graduate Students

Emily Braham


I am a fifth year graduate student in the Cognitive Psychology program. My research focuses on how children and adults process numerical information, and the relation between these numerical processing abilities and math achievement. Further, I am interested in how parents and teachers influence the development of children’s mathematical understanding.

Leanne Elliot


I am a fifth year graduate student in the Developmental Psychology program. I am interested in how families support their young children's early academic and self-regulatory skills, particularly in low-income communities.

Ruizhe Liu


Office 560 LRDC

I am a fourth year graduate student in the Cognitive Psychology program. I’m interested in what role number sense plays in human math learning and how it interacts with domain general abilities, such as inhibition. I’m also interested in how symbolic numbers are integrated with non-symbolic numerals at the cerebral level. In my leisure time, I like painting, swimming, and playing badminton with friends.

Lab Manager

Abby Haslinger


I graduated from the University of Rochester in May of 2017 with a Bachelor's Degree in Brain and Cognitive Sciences. As an undergraduate, I did research with the Concepts, Actions, and Objects Laboratory in Rochester for two and a half years, where I studied cognitive evolution and the origins of conceptual knowledge. My particular research interest lies in the cognitive and neural development of young children, particularly the formation of their math and language skills. I hope to attend medical school in the future, with the goal of becoming a neurosurgeon. I am so excited to be working on such interesting and important research with all of the amazing members of the KiT lab!


Abby Dillaha

I am a senior here at Pitt and I plan to double major in Biology and Neuroscience with minors in Chemistry and Dance. My goal is to go to medical school and work in some sort of pediatric medicine. I am very excited to continue working in the Kids' Thinking Lab and continue this experience working with children and learning how they develop.

Michelle Gamburg

I am a junior majoring in Biology and Psychology. My goal is to attend medical school with hopes of becoming a dermatologist/ plastic surgeon. I have a baby niece and nephew that I am always so fascinated by. They learn new things every day. I hope to finally have a better understanding on their emerging math cognitive skills through different research methods used here at the KiT Lab. We have a great team here who all work together and I can't wait to learn from everyone!

Adwoa Imbeah

I am a sophomore at Pitt majoring in Psychology. I'm interested in attending graduate school for clinical psychology. Since I hope to work with kids in my future career, I'm excited to begin my first semester researching with the Kid's Thinking Lab and learning more about child behavior and development.

Sejla Jukic

I am an aspiring pediatrician majoring in Molecular Biology and minoring in Chemistry. I am particularly interested in child development and childhood education. My interest in research lies in the opportunity for the hands-on experiences and interactions that it provides. I look forward to being a be a part of the Kid's Thinking Lab and learning more about how children's mathematical foundations develop and how children identify with mathematics in formal, school settings.

Shreya Kolar

I am a Psychology major with a minor in Chemistry, hoping to one day pursue a career in Pediatric Dentistry. I have always been interested in anything related to child development, and so I am very excited to learn more about early math and motor skills in infants/children. I am thrilled to be able to understand the underlying effect that developmental transitions in behavior can have on children as they mature and progress.

Wyatt Macejka

I am a senior Psychology and Communications major. I hope to one day become a research psychologist. I am always interested in learning more about cognitive processes as well as working with kids! I look forward to continuing to learn and help in this lab.

Jamie Patronick

I am currently a junior majoring in Psychology and minoring in Neuroscience. I love working with children and I am passionate about education policy and reform. I am fascinated by the neural bases of behavior and learning, and I look forward to being a part of the Kids’ Thinking Lab to better understand how children’s foundations for mathematical concepts develop. I hope to one day pursue a career in clinical child psychology.

Steph Quinones

I am a senior in the Rehabilitation Science program with minors in chemistry and French language. I am pursuing a certificate in Conceptual Foundations of Medicine and am on the pre-med track. My goal is to one day work as a neonatal physician. I love working with children and have always been interested in childhood development and cognitive skill acquisition. I am looking forward to exploring these fields throughout my time at the KiT lab and aim to gain valuable knowledge and experience for the future!

Mahima Rajan

I am a junior majoring in Biology and Psychology with a minor in French. I one day want to attend medical school with dreams of becoming a pediatrician. I hope to gain a better understanding of the emerging math cognitive skills of infants and children through the use of different studies conducted here in the KiT Lab.

Kelly Staples

I am a senior transfer student majoring in Neuroscience and minoring in Chemistry and Religion. I am looking forward to working in the Kid’s Thinking Lab and learning more about early childhood development and computational skills. After college, I intend on going to medical school to one day become a pediatrician. I am grateful for this research opportunity, and I look forward to applying the skills I learn in lab to my future professional and personal endeavors.

Jyothi Thippana

I'm a senior with major in Neuroscience and a certificate in Conceptual Foundations of Medicine on the pre-med track. I'm interested in pursuing a career in either Pediatrics or Emergency Medicine. I look forward to gaining valuable research experience and getting to work with children in the lab!

Leah Trentini

I am a junior majoring in neuroscience and psychology and minoring in chemistry here at Pitt. I am currently interested in a variety of graduate programs and am exploring my future options in the medical field. I'm particularly interested in working with children and am excited to learn from this research experience at the KiT lab.

Ashley Whited

I am a senior undergraduate student majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology and have been a research assistant with the Kids' Thinking Lab for 4 semesters. As an aspiring pediatric neurologist, I have always been interested in child development and early childhood education. I hope to one day be able to apply the knowledge I am uncovering with the KIT Lab to help children in the medical field.

Pete Zheng

I am a current senior pursuing a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science, Economics, Business Administration and Management, and a Bachelor of Philosophy in Psychology through the Honors College. I have spent the past two years in the Kids Thinking Lab pursuing independent research for my BPhil thesis with Dr. Libertus examining differences in parents' academic beliefs influenced by parents' education and family income. I am passionate about addressing the underlying mechanisms of education inequality within this country and across the world. After Pitt, I will pursue a Master of Public Policy and Master of Business Administration to work towards eradicating social issues by intersecting industry with nonprofit in hopes to create a just society.

Lab Alumni

Kayla Banner

Joy Cui

Eva Dice

Brittany Eltman

Lydia Grubic

Amanda Hopcroft

Jonas Kerner

John Klotz

Carolyn Kotkiewicz

Alexandra Lawall

Sarah Lazzaro

Klaus Libertus

Permveer Longia

Jenny Ly

Chelsea MacNeil

Austin Marcus

Melanie Matyi

Paige McLaughlin

Eliana Munro

Sonya Naik

Monica Navarro

Jenny Orie

Emily Pullman

Elias Rappaport

Megan Raymond

Deborah Scialabba

Leah Siegel

Stephanie Silva

Gabby Simon

Sierra Struble

Amy Veasey

Dominic Violi

Serena Virgi

Kausthubha Yaratha

Xiaoyun Xu

Charles Yang

Trevor Zwaan