Meet the Lab!

Deena Skolnick Weisberg, Ph.D.

Lab Director

Deena Skolnick Weisberg is Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Villanova University. In addition to directing the STAR Lab, she is the co-director of the Galapagos Education and Research Alliance (GERA). She earned her Ph.D. in Psychology from Yale University and received postdoctoral training at Rutgers University and at Temple University. Her research interests include scientific thinking and reasoning in children and adults, the development of imaginative cognition, and the roles that the imagination plays in learning. Her work has been published in a variety of scholarly journals, including Science and Cognition, and has received funding from the Templeton Foundation and the National Science Foundation. Learn more about Dr. Weisberg here.

Graduate Students

Gabriel Nguyentran

Masters Student

Gabriel Nguyentran graduated with High Honors from the University of California, Merced in 2020, where he earned a B.S. in Cognitive Science and a minor in Psychology. He is broadly interested in the importance of reading and story content on early development. Outside of lab and class, he enjoys watching movies, playing video games, and hanging out with friends.

Laura Hardner

Masters Student

Laura Hardner graduated with honors from Thiel College in 2020 with a bachelor’s degree in Counseling, Social, and Cognitive Developmental Psychology, with a minor in English and a certificate in Theology. She is broadly interested in the scholarship of teaching and learning and hopes to one day teach psychology at the undergraduate level. In her free time, she loves to read, play video games, and practice the ukulele.

Rebecca Mason

Masters Student

Rebecca Mason graduated with honors from Saint Mary’s College in Notre Dame, Indiana in 2021, earning her B.A. in Psychology and Spanish. She is broadly interested in studying prejudice, with past research focusing more specifically on race and gender. Her current interest is the effect of gender prejudice on children’s media. Outside of work and class, she finds joy by playing video games, singing, and spending quality time with her cat Marigold.

Alexis Ulmanis

Masters Student

Alexis Ulmanis earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Wake Forest University in May 2018. She lived in Boone, North Carolina for two years working in a psychiatric treatment facility for youth with trauma before seeking a graduate degree in Psychology at Villanova University. She is interested in understanding the circumstances for healthy child development as well as how adversity can lead to abnormal development in otherwise healthy individuals. In her free time, she enjoys painting, snow skiing, and home improvement projects.

Sarah Krull

Masters Student

Sarah Krull graduated from Northern Kentucky University in 2017 with a Bachelor’s degree in Psychology and a dual minor in English and Honors.  During undergrad, she served as a student researcher on multiple studies and acted as the secretary for the local Psi Chi chapter. In her spare time, she enjoys (often decades-old) fiction and cuddling her (literal) scaredy-cat.

Lucretia Dunlap

Masters Student

Lucretia Dunlap earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology and Sociology from Grand Valley State University in 2020. During her undergraduate years, she worked for over three years in an adult lockdown psychiatric treatment facility before seeking a graduate degree in Psychology at Villanova University. She is interested in understanding what factors influence the relationship of adult children and their parents, such as communication style, independence of the child, and perception of their relationship. In her free time, she enjoys writing fiction, baking, and spending time with her two cats, Wolfgang and Claude.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Lauren Polito

Research Assistant

Lauren Polito is a Nursing student with an intended minor in Global Health. She is from Basking Ridge, NJ, and she hopes to become a Nurse Practitioner. At Villanova, she is involved with SNAP and Special Olympics. In her free time, Lauren enjoys crocheting, sewing, and spending time with friends.

Ashlyn Latham

Research Assistant

Ashlyn Latham is a Chemical Engineering major with an intended minor in psychology. She is from Easton, MA. At Villanova, she is involved with Special Olympics and is a member of the Honors Program. In her free time, Ashlyn enjoys spending time with friends and family, going on sunset drives, listening to country music, and volunteering. 

Brooke Gonzalez

Research Assistant

Brooke Gonzalez is a psychology major and education minor from Maryland. She is involved with RUIBAL, a tutoring club at Villanova, and is interested in working with children within the educational field in the future. In her free time, she enjoys listening to country music and playing with her two dogs. 

Katie Van Dusen

Research Assistant

Tara Krishnan

Research Assistant

Tara Krishnan is a nursing major from Issaquah, WA. She hopes to receive further training and become a Pediatric Nurse Practitioner. At Villanova University, she is a member of the Blue Key Society, Nursing Without Borders and the South Asian Multicultural Organized Student Association. In her free time, Tara enjoys listening to music, dancing, painting, and volunteering.

Golibe Okoli

Research Assistant

Golibe Okoli is a psychology major on the pre-med track. She hopes to become a gynecologist or pediatrician. At Villanova, she is a member of the Villanova International Students Organization, the African and Carribean Villanovans, and the Campus Activities Team. In her free time, she enjoys going out to eat with friends, a good nap and watching TV shows.

Joshua Coogle

Research Assistant

Joshua Coogle is a Psychology major from Ocala, FL. He plans to be able to go on to law school to study to become an attorney. At Villanova, he is involved with VUTC and RA. In his free time, Joshua enjoys spending time with friends, going on adventures, and playing video games.

STAR Lab Alumni

Bella Stern

Research Assistant

Olivia Choi

Research Assistant

Sammantha Chiu

Research Assistant

Julia Reidy

Research Assistant

Irini Economos

Research Assistant

Keren Mir-Almaguer

Research Assistant

Olivia Dutton

Research Assistant

Sarah Wiik

Research Assistant

Giselle Striedinger

Research Assistant

Kayleigh Purcell

RESEARCH ASSISTANT​

Izzy Stone

Research Assistant

Helen Yu

Masters Student

Carolyn McWhirter​

RESEARCH ASSISTANT​

Tori Muller

Research Assistant

Ashley Bernard

Research Assistant

Marcella Parisi

Research Assistant

Grace Gentle

Research Assistant

Aarti Bodas

Masters Student

Arundhati Debnath

Masters Student

Natasha Chlebuch

LAB COORDINATOR

Amelia Robinson

Research Assistant

Sarah Bazata

Research assistant

Casey Smith

Research assistant