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, where she directs the Scientific Thinking and Representation (STAR) Laboratory. She is also 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.

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.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Sarah Bazata

Research Assistant

Sarah Bazata is a junior Psychology and Sociology double major from New Canaan, CT. She hopes to ultimately earn her PhD in Child Psychology. In her free time, Sarah enjoys spending time with her friends and family (especially her three-year-old labradoodle!), exercising, and listening to music. At Villanova, she is a member of Community Outreach of Villanova (COV) and Greek life. 

Amelia Robinson

Research Assistant

Amelia Robinson is a senior psychology major with a math minor from Northern California. She plans to earn a Ph.D. in clinical psychology. At Villanova, Amelia is involved in Phi Sigma Pi National Honors Fraternity, the Student Sustainability Committee and is a facilitator for the Service Learning Community. She spends the rest of her time cooking, reading, and spending time with friends and family. “
 

Casey Smith

Research Assistant

Casey Smith is a junior Psychology major with minors in Counseling and Business from Long Island, NY. She plans to pursue additional education in the field of Psychology, and ultimately hopes to become a Child Psychologist. In her free time, Casey enjoys watching the sunset at the beach and spending time with friends, family, and her pets. At Villanova, Casey is involved in Psi Chi, Relay for Life, NOVAdance, Special Olympics, Operation Smile, Best Buddies, and STRIVE.

Tara Krishnan

Research Assistant

Tara Krishnan is a freshman nursing major from Issaquah,Washington. 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.

Lauren Polito

Research Assistant

Lauren Polito is a freshman Nursing student with an intended minor in Global Health. She is from Basking Ridge, New Jersey and 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.

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