Developmental Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab

University of Maryland, College Park
Home People Publications Our Studies Participate

Meet the Team!

Lab Director

Elizabeth Redcay

Elizabeth Redcay is an Associate Professor of Psychology and the director of the Developmental Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. She received her Ph.D. in Psychology and Cognitive Science from UCSD and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in MIT's Brain and Cognitive Sciences department before starting at UMD.

Assistant Research Professor

Heather Yarger

Heather Yarger is an Assistant Research Professor in the Developmental Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. Heather previously worked as a pocdoctoral associate in the DSCN Lab from August 2018-May 2021. She received her Ph. D. in Clinical Science at the University of Delaware in 2018 under the mentorship of Mary Dozier. She completed her clinical internship at the Kennedy Krieger Institute and the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in the Child and Family Therapy and Behavior Management Clinics. Heather’s research has focused on identifying risk and protective factors of dysregulation in childhood, evaluating the effectiveness of interventions aimed at improving parenting quality in high-risk populations (e.g., Child Protective Services involved parents, parents adopting internationally), and understanding the complex presentations of mental health diagnoses in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder.

Postdoctoral Associates


Alicia Vallorani

Alicia is an NIMH Ruth L. Kirschstein NRSA Postdoctoral Fellow using naturalistic methods to study how we develop through social interactions. Particularly, she is interested in understanding the co-development of social attention and mentalizing and how this relates to positive social relationships and social anxiety risk. Alicia graduated with a PhD in Developmental Psychology from Penn State in 2022.

Haroon Popal

Haroon is a postdoctoral associate. He earned his PhD in psychology from Temple University where he studied the representation of social knowledge and how the cerebellum is involved in social cognition. In the Developmental Social Cognitive Neuroscience lab, Haroon is continuing his work on the cerebellum by examining its role in social learning.

Desi Jones

Desi Jones is a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Developmental Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. She received her PhD in Psychological Sciences from the University of Texas at Dallas in 2023. Desi’s research focuses on how autistic people are perceived by their peers, how these perceptions differ for autistic people from underrepresented groups, and how to reduce stigma among non-autistic people. She is also interested in using qualitative methods to better understand the experiences of autistic people with intersecting identities, with an emphasis on Black autistic people.

Graduate Students


Kathryn McNaughton

Kathryn is a graduate student in the Neuroscience and Cognitive Science PhD program. After receiving her B.A. in Psychology and Biology from Williams College in 2016, she conducted electrophysiology and eye-tracking research as a Sara S. Sparrow Fellow in Clinical Neuroscience at the Yale Child Study Center for two years. She is interested in examining the neural markers of social interactions in children who are typically developing and children who are on the autism spectrum.


Victoire Alleluia Shenge

Victoire is a graduate student in the developmental psychology PhD program. She graduated from the University of Rochester with a BS in Brain and Cognitive Sciences and a minor in Linguistics, and went on to do a fellowship around Mental Health, Faith and Youth under the guidance of Dr. Ann Marie White and Dr. Nancy Chin. Following her fellowship, she worked with Dr. Duje Tadin and Dr. John J Foxe, as a lab manager and study coordinator on different projects including multisensory integration in autism and face recognition. She is broadly interested in the development of social cognition especially in children with autism spectrum disorder.


Erin Reckner

Erin is a graduate student in the Clinical Psychology PhD Program. She graduated from the Catholic University of America with a BS in Psychological and Brain Sciences and a minor in Neuroscience. She went on to complete her MSc in Clinical Neuroscience at the University College London. She is broadly interested in exploring the risk and protective factors of loneliness in order to best support development for children on the autism spectrum.

Norma Pena-Flores

Norma is a graduate student in the Neuroscience and Cognitive Science PhD program. She received a BA in Philosophy from the University of Navarra and a BS in Physics from Florida International University. She began her PhD studying the neurobiological effects of social isolation in a crayfish model at the Lab of Crustacean Neurobiology and Behavior. In 2023 she joined the DSCN lab to study the interplay between the development of social cognition brain networks and gastrointestinal health in adolescents. She is broadly interested in the biological and environmental factors affecting social cognitive brain development.

Postbaccalaureate Research People


Grace Daley

Grace is the lab manager for the Developmental Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. She graduated from the University of Pennsylvania in 2023 with a B.A. in Psychology and an M.S.Ed in Counseling and Mental Health Services. In the future, she plans to pursue a doctoral degree in clinical and/or school psychology.


Eli Robinson

Eli is a post-baccalaureate research coordinator with the Developmental Social Cognitive Neuroscience Lab. She graduated from the University of California Irvine in 2023 with a B.S. in Cognitive Neurosciences and a minor in Biology, In the future, she plans to pursue a PhD in neuroscience.

Undergraduate Research Assistants


Deanna Sarlak

Deanna is a Senior Psychology major on the B.S. track and has a minor in neuroscience. She is passionate about research and loves working with kids. Outside of the DSCN lab, she is the VP of marketing for Psi Chi Honors Society! She is also a Maryland Images Tour Guide, on the Dancer Relations Committee for Terp Thon, and a member of Phi Alpha Delta! In the future, she hopes to go to law school and potentially do work in healthcare law or child advocacy!

Sarah Nelson

Sarah is a Senior Psychology student on the B.S. track, with focuses on neuroscience and the biological bases of behavior and disorders. She has been with the Redcay lab since spring 2022, and hopes to continue learning research skills for future Ph.D. programs. Sarah also plays the Alto Saxophone in the Maryland Pep band, which plays at school sporting events such as basketball games.

Thirein Kyaw

Thirein is a junior Psychology major on the B.S. track who has an interest in neuroscience and clinical psychology. After graduating from UMD, he wishes to pursue a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and hopes to do research in that field.

Katy Lamb

Katy is a junior pursuing a psychology degree and sustainability & human development minors. She is very passionate about working with children and is excited to expand her research skills through the DSCN lab. Outside of the lab, she is a tutor for student athletes and plays intramural soccer!

Eric Shi

Eric is a junior Psychology and Economics double major with a focused interest on developmental and consumer psychology. He's a sports writer for The Hare and an active participant in Club Boxing. He hopes to become a better researcher at the DSCN.

Julia Zawatsky

Julia is a sophomore Psychology major on the B.S. track. She is also a member of the Life Sciences Scholars Program. Julia loves working with kids and she is super passionate about helping others. She is also a tour guide with Maryland Images, an undergraduate teaching assistant, and was a member of Terpthon's Morale Committee. After graduating, she plans to continue her studies in graduate school.

Nava Kahn

Nava is a psychology major on the Pre Med Track and is a part of University Honors. Outside of school, she volunteers at the Crisis Text Line, as well as the Pregnancy Aid Center. Post college, she would like to become a psychiatrist as well as continue completing research.

Jenna Kiely

Jenna is a junior Psychology major on the B.S. track and has a minor in Human Development. She is interested in research focusing on child and adolescent development. After graduating, she plans on attending graduate school and continuing research. In her free time, she loves to be outside and go on runs!.

Sara Liuzza

Sara is a junior Psychology major with minors in Human Development and History. Outside of the lab she is a member of an on campus sorority where she is the Fidelity Chairwoman. After graduating, she hopes to continue working with children, possibly as a school psychologist.

Zachary Schwartz

Zach is a Junior majoring in physiology and neurobiology and minoring in creative writing. He plans on going to medical school and becoming a surgeon after graduation. In addition to working at the DSCN lab, he is also a CHAI Ambassador for genetic counseling. Outside academics, Zach enjoys writing short stories and running marathons.

Brynn Saffer

Brynn is a sophomore Social Data Science major on the psychology track. She is interested in research focusing on neurodiversity and is excited to learn more about the research process, especially statistics. Outside of the DSCN lab, she is a tour guide for Maryland Images, a lead peer mentor for the TerpsEXCEED program, and a part of College Mentors for Kids. After graduation, she hopes to attend graduate school and continue to research.

Kenny Zheng

Kenny is a junior Psychology major who has an interest in counseling psychology. He wishes to minor Asian American studies and Korean. After undergrad, Kenny plans to go to Graduate school to obtain a master's degree.

Dalia Mustafa

Dalia is a junior GVPT and PSYC double major. She is passionate about working with children and expanding her skills through the DSCN Lab. She hopes to gain a better understanding of clinical processes to use in her future academic endeavors.


Neha is a sophomore Neuroscience major on the premed track; she enjoys working with kids and hopes to work in pediatrics or neurology in the future. On campus, she is involved in FIMRC and Tamil Student Association.

Lab Alumni

Matthew Kiely
Paige Munshell
Junaid Merchant
Quentin Leifer
Diana Alkire
Oliver Xie
Aditi Hosangadi
Libby Giacobbe
Hema Clarence
Aliceann Trostle
Manasvinee Mayil Vahanan
Ming Yuang
Nicole Chapman
Raphe Shankman
Ryan Regars
Ryan Stadler
Stephanie Moy
Deena Shariq
Jacqueline Thomas
Alexandra Hickey
Adnan Rashid
Bess Bloomer
Diana Grant
Miranda Sapoznik
Sydney Maniscalco
Yaqiong Xiao
Laura Kirby
Dylan Selbst
Dominic Smith- DiLeo
Debbie Choi
Katie Bouvier-Weinberg
Katie Beverley
Sabine Huber
Hunter Rogoff
Zoey Maggid
Tova Rosenthal
Erin Brine-Dolye
Ishan Shah
Alex Mangerian
Eleonora Sadikova
Morgan Biggs
Jazlyn Nketia
Meredith Pecukonis
Kate Rice Warnell
Liat Hotz
Joana Romero
Stephanie Goncalves
Alexis Pappadeas
Stephanie Golding
Lesley Sand
Jennifer Trinchere
Cashmire Norfleet
Katherine Calabrese
Helen Kong
Jessica Golding
Harrison Pierce
Eric Czinn
Tara Feld
Brogan Murphy
Eric Meyer
Toby Hamovitz
Lindsey Benjamin
Simren Kanwal
Ishaan Parikh
Brieana Viscomi
Daniel O'Young
Nina Lichtenberg
Ruth Ludlum
Jeremy Baker
Viviana Bauman
Shannon Coveney
Robert Cai