Lab Members

Lab Photo Spring 2019

Our Spring 2019 Lab Team!


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Dr. Amy Needham, Principal Investigator

Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Amy Needham’s research has explored many questions in our three main areas of study. One question that has been of interest to her for a number of years is how infants find boundaries around objects. Her current questions particularly focus on perceptual and motor learning in infancy.

Email : Telephone: (615) 322-8380



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Lauren Malachowski, Doctoral Student

Davidson College, B.S., 2016 (Psychology)

I’m a first year Ph.D. student in the Developmental Psychology program. I’m currently involved in research that explores the role of early experiences with toys on later cognitive and problem-solving skills. In future research, I hope to explore how everyday experiences in early life might influence development.


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Brooke Berger, Master’s Student & Lab Manager

Georgetown University, 2013, B.A. (English & Journalism)

I am a second year student in the Child Studies master’s program. My primary area of interest is improving maternal and infant health outcomes and optimizing development in early life. I have been involved with other research while at Vanderbilt, including studies on social-emotional development in preschool-aged children and the effectiveness of home-visiting programs at improving infant health and development outcomes.



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Savannah Diamond

Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2020 

I’m a junior pre-med student with a special interest in developmental pediatrics. I am double majoring in Cognitive Studies and Child Development. I love working with children, and have nannied and been a camp counselor since high school. This will be my second year as a lab RA and I can’t wait for another great year in baby lab!

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Laura Green

Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2020

I’m a junior majoring in Child Studies and minoring in Human and Organizational Development, as well as working on an honors thesis. I am particularly interested in early intervention for children with disabilities and am on a pre-occupational therapy track. I am excited to assist in the Infant Learning Lab and continue learning about the development of babies.

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Screen Shot 2017-09-21 at 2.25.04 PMCharlotte Jeanne

Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2019

I am a senior majoring in Child Development and Medicine, Health, and Society. I am currently working on an honors thesis, which will be completed before my graduation. My honors project focuses on the effects of parental teaching and encouraging behaviors on the development of early reaching. I am interested in exploring how parents obtain or redirect their infants’ attention, and how this type of facilitated learning impacts the development of new motor skills.

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 Abigail Phillips

Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2020

I am a junior double majoring in Child Studies and Psychology with the hopes of becoming a pediatric occupational therapist. I am particularly interested in developmental psychology and children who have disabilities. I love working with kids and can’t wait to continue learning about infants this semester!


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Lindsey Rae

Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2019

I am a senior majoring in Medicine, Health, and Society and minoring in French! After undergrad I hope to go to medical school, but I am unsure of what I want to specialize in yet. I’m excited to be working with children in this lab, and I’m hoping that it will shed light on what I want to pursue in the future!


Katie Swift

Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2020

My name is Katie Swift and I am a junior majoring in Child Studies and minoring in Special Education from Orange County, California! I am interested in working with infants mainly because I plan to work in an Early Childhood Psychology field. Right now I volunteer as a buddy at the Susan Gray School and nanny for a 1 year old when at home. I am excited to work in the lab to help research and better understand infants!

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Anna Schellhorn

Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2019

I am a senior from Denver, Colorado majoring in Child Development and pursuing the pre-nursing track. I hope to combine these two interests and eventually become a pediatric nurse practitioner. I have loved kids since I was one myself and I am so excited to be working with them and learning about them in the lab!

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Sarah Lu

Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2021

I am a sophomore majoring in Cognitive Studies and minoring in International Politics. I’ve always been interested in early development/learning in infants. In particular, I want to better understand how an infant’s early stages of development impacts them later in life. I’m excited to be assisting in the Infant Learning Lab and gaining more knowledge about infants! I’m not sure what I want to do later, but I’m hoping my experience in this lab will help me discover my path.

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Elizabeth Persons

Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2020

I am a junior double majoring in Severe Special Education and Cognitive Studies. After I graduate, I am looking to get my Master’s degree in Special Education in Transition and Job Coaching. I’m excited to get a feel for the Special Education field for younger children as most of my previous work in special education has been with high schoolers and adults. Here in Nashville, I nanny a now 1-year-old and a 3-year-old and love every moment I am with them!

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Stella Owings

Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2022

I am a freshman studying Child Development and Psychology. I am specifically interested in the countless effects parents and families have on their children’s development. I love working with kids and have been nannying and babysitting for the past three years. I am beyond excited to continue learning about children’s development through a different lens in the Infant Learning Lab!

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Sarah Megan Erb

Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2020

I am a junior from Grand Junction, Colorado, double majoring in Elementary Education and Child Studies. I have nannied for two summers, and have worked in Kindergarten through 4th Grade classrooms while at Vanderbilt. I love working with children and am so fascinated with how they learn. I’m so excited to learn about infants and the development that happens before they reach school age!

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Frances Garrard

Undergraduate Research Assistant, 2022

I am a freshman studying Child Development and MHS. I have always loved being around kids, and am very excited to get to interact with kids and families in the lab! I am on the pre-nursing track, so after I graduate I hope to become a pediatric nurse. Throughout high school, I volunteered at Monroe Carell Children’s Hospital, so I am so excited to be with kids in a different environment and learn more about early development through a research lens.