Our research is directed by Lindsey Richland in collaboration with graduate and undergraduate researchers

Lindsey Richland is an Associate Professor in the Department of Comparative Human Development and the Committee on Education at the University of Chicago. Dr. Richland investigates children's memory and analytical reasoning development.  Much of her work explores children's emergent ability to think about relationships and make inferences such as through metaphor and analogy.  Dr. Richland also studies everyday instruction in the US and internationally to develop practice-relevant tools grounded in theory for improving student outcomes in mathematics and science domains.  A CAREER award from the National Science Foundation as well as grants from the Institute of Education Sciences and the Office of Naval Research support her work. In 2008, she was awarded a National Academy of Education and Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship. Dr. Richland received her Ph.D in Developmental Psychology and Cognitive Science from the University of California, Los Angeles in 2003. Curriculum Vitae

Rebecca Frausel is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Psychology at the University of Chicago. Dr. Frausel is broadly interested in the cognitive and socio-emotional benefits for youth and adolescents of sharing stories of personal experience. In one line of inquiry, she explores the role of early language socialization practices on children’s later academic proficiencies and outcomes. Specifically, she examines how early exposure to and participation in narrative talk can support the development of children’s complex relational thinking and proficiency using decontextualized and academic language. She is also interested how sharing stories of personal experience can foster empathy development. She utilizes diverse methodologies, from naturalistic parent-child observations in everyday home contexts to lab-based elicitation tasks to in-classroom intervention studies. Dr. Frausel received her PhD from the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago in 2018.

Post Doctoral Scholars and

Graduate Students

Emily Lyons is a sixth-year PhD student in the department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. Her research interests include science education, stereotype threat, testing anxiety, and motivational processes underlying learning. Her undergraduate studies were in Biology. After graduating from Cornell University in 2009, she taught science in New Orleans and New York City public schools.  Her teaching experience formed the basis of her current research interests.

Almaz Mesghina is a third-year PhD student in the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. Broadly, her research interests focus on improving learning outcomes for young, disadvantaged students, with a particular interest in non-cognitive factors that may manifest in academic settings. Her current work tests interventions to improve children's ability to learn math under pressure. Almaz graduated from Vanderbilt University in May of 2016 and received her B.S. both in Child Development and Psychology, during which she worked part-time as a preschool teacher and managed Vanderbilt's Early Development Lab. Her previous research investigated how different interactive behaviors with touch screens affect word learning in diverse populations of preschoolers. 

Lab Manager

Kelly Trezise is a Postdoctoral Scholar in the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago. Dr Trezise investigates the relationships between cognition and emotion, and the consequences of these relationships for problem solving and learning. Much of her work explores mathematics anxiety and its relationship with problem solving. Dr Trezise also characterizes general and mathematical cognitive development, particularly in the context of arithmetic and algebra. She also examines how educational technology and cognition interact during learning. Dr Trezise uses a variety of analytical methods, including finite mixture models, to examine processes that contribute to learning and development. Dr Trezise received her PhD in Psychological Science from the University of Melbourne in 2015. Website:

Layne Teska is a third-year PhD student in the Department of Comparative Human Development at the University of Chicago.  She graduated from Carleton College in 2014 where she majored in psychology and neuroscience.  Layne plans to explore how elements of the home environment and parent-child relationships affect cognitive and social-emotional development. Currently, her work examines these constructs in a cross-cultural sample. Additionally, Layne is interested in how students’ individual characteristics and cognitive resources (i.e., executive functioning and analogical reasoning skills) in conjunction with their school environment, curriculum, and teacher may systematically impact their learning potential.

Ashley Murphy received her MS in Special Education in 2018 at Dominican University. She also taught special education math and sciences classes as a 2016 Teach for America corps member. As an undergraduate, Ashley received a BA in both Neuroscience and Behavior as well as English. Her undergraduate research was on the use of neurocognitive interventions in improving chemotherapy-induced cognitive dysfunction. As a result of her experiences in both neuroscience and special education, Ashley is interested in the cognitive profiles of higher performing and lower performing math students as well as how this understanding can be used to improve learning outcomes for lower performing students.

Research Assistants

Michelle Bueno received her BA in Political Science in 2017 at the University of Chicago. Her honors’ BA thesis project explored the effects of stereotype threat on African-American high school students’ perceptions of themselves, their future success, and their political agency. Michelle hopes to pursue a PhD in Political Science, with a focus on Political Psychology and Critical Race Theory, studying the effects of race and anxiety in attitudes about politics. 

Ruohan Xia received her BA in Psychology with a certificate in Criminal Justice from University of Wisconsin – Madison in 2018. Her research interests include gestural communication and effects of instruction on children’s conceptual development and math learning. Her undergraduate research focused on the effect of native language on gestural description of past events. She is eager to pursue a PhD in psychology to explore how cultural differences might play into interpreting real-world psychological phenomenon, and how to adjust research approach with regard to cultural differences.

Maya Joyce received her BA in Applied Psychology and Human Development from Boston College in 2018. While there she minored in Special Education and Women's and Gender Studies. The focus of most of her undergraduate research was on youth purpose development and the effects of mentoring relationships. Her senior Honor's thesis was a study of the purpose development of youth in Tanzania. Maya's current interests include developmental and educational psychology, specifically in a cross-cultural context as well as how an individual's environment and relationships impact all parts of their life. 

Natalie is a first year PhD student in the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine, with a specialization in Human Development in Context. She is broadly interested in how individual differences would affect math learning. In particular, she is exploring how bilingualism, executive functions, self-efficacy, and stereotype threat would affect student engagement in higher order thinking in a math learning context. Natalie just graduated from the University of Chicago and obtained an MA in Social Sciences degree with concentrations in Psychology and Comparative Human Development. Before coming to the States, she worked as a high school math teacher and an inspector in the Department of Education in Hong Kong. These experiences have formed her interests in her current interdisciplinary research.