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.

Shirley Duong

I am a first year graduate student in the Cognitive Psychology program. I am interested in contextual factors that influence children's math cognition, with a particular focus on how caregivers support children's development of early math skills. In my free time, I like to eat unhealthy foods and play amateur softball.

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.

Alex Silver

I am a first year graduate student in the Cognitive Psychology program. I am interested in the impact of parents, teachers and peers on children's numerical cognition, specifically looking at how social influences may impact both non-symbolic and symbolic math achievement. I am particularly interested in the transmission of math attitudes and anxiety, and how these play a role in children's motivation and performance in math.

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!


Aeliya Ahmed

I’m a sophomore studying Psychology and Philosophy, with minors in Chemistry and Religious Studies. I hope to attend medical school to eventually pursue a career as a pediatric psychiatrist. I really love working with kids and I’m so excited to be learning more about the development of children’s cognitive abilities and computational skills as a research assistant at the KiT Lab!

Caitlin Convery

I am a sophomore here at Pitt majoring in Psychology. My future goals include attending graduate school with hopes to eventually work with children in the field of clinical psychology. I grew up babysitting young children and have always been fascinated with how quickly they learn and develop. Being a part of the KiT Lab is such a great opportunity for hands on, experiential learning, and I am interested to learn more about the different variables that can affect children's level and ability of various math skills.

Dara Czernikowski

I am a sophomore at Pitt pursuing a major in Biology and minors in Chemistry and Neuroscience. My goal is to attend medical school with hopes of becoming an orthopedist. I love interacting with children and am excited to be learning more about the neural explanations for their behaviors, as well as the development of cognitive processes and emergence of mathematic skills with the rest of the team here at the KiT Lab!

Donny Deep

I am currently a senior majoring in Statistics-Economics with a minor in chemistry. I am on the pre-medical track with the goal to go to medical school. Specifically, I am interested in going into orthopedic surgery. I look forward to learning as much as I can while working in the Kids' Thinking Lab over my time here!

Michelle Gamburg

I am a senior 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!

Sarah Gehman

I am a senior majoring in Biology with minors in Spanish, Chemistry, and Conceptual Foundations of Medicine. I enjoy working with kids and hope to one day be a pediatrician. I’m excited to work in the KiT lab and continue learning about what factors impact childhood math development.

Jocelyn Hughes

I am a sophomore majoring in Biology with a concentration in Russian and Eastern European Studies. I am hoping to go to medical school in the future. As a member of the KiT Lab I am excited to learn more about the development of infants' and children's concepts of numbers. I am looking forward to studying particularly how different interactions between parents and children lead to development of number concepts.

Adwoa Imbeah

I am a junior 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.

Morgan Lemmon

I am a sophomore majoring in Neuroscience on the pre-med track, minoring in Spanish, and pursuing a certificate in American Sign Language. My future plans include attending medical school and hopefully becoming an OB/GYN. This is my first semester at the KiT Lab and I am looking forward to learning more about the neurological development of young children and how socioeconomic status effects early learning. I am excited to gain valuable skills that will help me in my future endeavors.

Tom Marlin

I am a junior majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology and minoring in Chemistry and Theatre Arts. On the track to one day be a Children's Psychiatrist, this lab is providing me with valuable research experience and skills to help me succeed as I approach the next phase in my education.

Jamie Patronick

I am currently a senior 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.

Sarah Pitulski

I am a sophomore at Pitt majoring in Psychology on the Pre-Dental track. After taking a developmental psychology course, I became extremely interested in the changes that the human brain undergoes during childhood. I am excited to understand more about child growth and learning development in this lab! I hope to use what I learn about the importance of positive interactions between adults and children in my future as a parent and medical provider.

Mahima Rajan

I am a senior 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.

Erica Schweitzer

I am a senior at Pitt majoring in Psychology with a certificate in Children's Literature. I am interested in learning how children develop and how the relationship with those around them affects the development as well as seeing how that will impact their future. After graduation, I want to either go in to advertising or becoming a therapist for either Early Intervention or become a PTSD specialist.

Christine Shine

I am a junior here at Pitt majoring in Neuroscience. I hope to one day get into medical school and eventually become a pediatric neurologist. My goal working in the lab is to walk away from it with a better understanding of why children differ in their math abilities and take this knowledge with me as I advance into my career. I’m so happy to be apart of such a positive and supportive environment and I look forward to what the future will bring for the KiT lab!

Bri Stein

I am a sophomore intending on majoring in biology with a minor in chemistry. I am excited to be working in the KiT lab working with children and learning more about their numerical thinking and development. One day I hope to attend medical school and pursue a career in medicine working with children.

Kian Tabatabai

I am a sophomore with the intention of pursuing a major in economics with a minor in biology. My goals include completing a dual degree in medicine and business to get involved in global medical industry. I look forward to working in the KiT Lab to gain experience in research methods and procedures as well as understand the way we process mathematics.

Leah Trentini

I am a senior 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.

Anisha Venkatesh

I am a junior majoring in Psychology. I have always been interested in pursuing a career in the medical field. I am very excited to join the Kids' Thinking Lab this semester and learn about childhood development through this unique research opportunity!

Taylor Williams

I am a junior majoring in Neuroscience. In the future, my goal is to continue working with kids in the medical field. I plan on focusing on their development or going into pediatric psychiatry.

Lab Alumni

Azeen Athar

Kayla Banner

Michaela Barley

Miriam Bols

Dana Cohen

Daniel Crawford

Joy Cui

Eva Dice

Abby Dillaha

Brittany Eltman

Simran Gill

Lydia Grubic

Erinn Hanner

Amanda Hopcroft

Sejla Jukic

Jonas Kerner

John Klotz

Shreya Kolar

Carolyn Kotkiewicz

Rebecca Laher

Alexandra Lawall

Sarah Lazzaro

Klaus Libertus

Permveer Longia

Eliza Luxbacher

Jenny Ly

Wyatt Macejka

Chelsea MacNeil

Austin Marcus

Melanie Matyi

Paige McLaughlin

Eliana Munro

Sonya Naik

Mia Nall

Monica Navarro

Shannon O'Leary

Jenny Orie

Emily Pullman

Steph Quinones

Elias Rappaport

Megan Raymond

Delaney Regan

Deborah Scialabba

Aditi Sharma

Leah Siegel

Stephanie Silva

Gabby Simon

Kelly Staples

Sierra Struble

Jyothi Thippana

Amy Veasey

Dominic Violi

Serena Virgi

Ashley Whited

Georgia Williams

Xiaoyun Xu

Charles Yang

Kausthubha Yaratha

Pete Zheng

Trevor Zwaan