Robin Panneton, Ph.D

Associate Professor

Robin Panneton graduated with a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro in 1985. Under the supervision of Dr. Tony DeCasper, she studied fetal and newborn perception of sounds associated with the mother's voice during late human gestation. She went on to post-doctoral positions at the University of Rochester (Dr.  Dick Aslin) and the Rose F. Kennedy Center (Dr. Diane Kurtzberg) before joining the faculty in the Department of Psychology at Virginia Tech in 1989.

Research Interests: Speech Perception in infancy; face+voice integration during language learning; developing speech and language; eye tracking; heart-rate defined attention

Vanessa Diaz, Ph.D

Research Assistant Professor

Vanessa Diaz graduated with a Ph.D. and Master's degree in Developmental Psychology from the University of Fl orida. Dr. Diaz completed concentrations in Neuroscience and Methodology, while focusing her research on bilingual children in the United States. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Florida International University in Miami, where she obtained a minor in French Language and Culture.

Research Interests: Bilingualism, Socio-Cognitive Development, Theory of Mind,

Executive Functioning, Language Development, Immigrant Families

Graduate Students

Tyler McFayden, M.S.

Clinical/Developmental Grad Student

Tyler graduated from Davidson College with her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology. She approaches research from a developmental psychopathology systems lens, thus incorporating research from both clinical and developmental fields. Tyler's work centers on evaluating social and attentional precursors to language development in infancy and toddlerhood, specifically investigating language outcomes and their connections to Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD) and other clinical phenotypes.

Research Interests: Social Attention, Expressive and Receptive Language, Prosody & Pitch, Early ASD identification/diagnosis

Madeleine Bruce, M.S.

Developmental Grad Student

Maddie graduated with a Master of Science degree in Marriage and Family Therapy from Northwestern University, having previously obtained her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Indiana University. Maddie's work centers around how parenting and socio-cultural factors interact to impact language development and attention.

Research Interests: Infant Language Learning and Attention, Multisensory Integration, Socioeconomic Status and Race/Ethnicity, Maternal Sensitivity/Parenting

Caroline Taylor, B.S.

Developmental Grad Student

Caroline graduated from Emory & Henry College with a Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology. Caroline is interested in language learning and the underlying mechanisms that accompany this process. She is also interested in the potential impact parenting has on language development.

Research Interests: Infant Emotion and Attention, Language Learning and Development, and Socioeconomic Status

Research Coordinator

Kelly Runyon

Project Manager

Kelly is a recent Virginia Tech graduate who double majored in Cognitive & Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychology. Before applying to graduate school, she is working with Dr. Vanessa Diaz investigating differences in executive functioning and theory of mind in bilingual preschoolers. Kelly is interested in language acquisition, bilingualism, ASD, and Alzheimer's Disease.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Lexi Brownell

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Lexi is a senior at Virginia Tech studying Psychology. She aspires to pursue a masters degree or PhD in developmental or clinical psychology. Lexi hopes to use her last year of undergraduate studies to explore the different fields of Psychology in order to find what she is most passionate about. 

Alexis Lapid

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Alexis is a senior at Virginia Tech majoring in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience with a double minor in Psychology and Language Sciences. Ultimately, she aspires to to become a Speech Language Pathologist, specifically for children.

Hillary Hettinger

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Hillary is a sophomore at Virginia Tech from Richmond, VA majoring in Human Development with a double minor in Disability Studies and Language Sciences. After she completes her undergraduate studies at Virginia Tech, Hillary hopes to become a Speech Language Pathologist specializing in children with disabilities. Hillary has spent her summer’s at home as a special needs aide for a young boy with down syndrome and interned at Treehouse Pediatric Therapy in Midlothian, VA. 

Kanisha Khatri

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Kanisha is a junior at Virginia Tech majoring in Psychology. She hopes to pursue a career in the realm of healthcare in the future. She’s interested in researching attention and language development in infants. 

Chandler Gavin

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Chandler is a junior at Virginia Tech majoring in Biological Sciences and minoring in Spanish. She aspires to attend Physician’s Assistant School after graduation and pursue a career working with children. She is interested in studying cognitive behavior in infants and children.  

Cameron Smith

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Cameron is a junior in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience as well as Computer Science, and he is from Round Hill, Virginia. After completing his undergraduate studies, he plans to attend graduate school to attain a graduate degree in a field closely related to Neuroscience and Psychology.

Kaitlin Joos Vandewalle

Undergraduate Research Assistant

Kaitlin is a Junior at Virginia Tech majoring in Psychology. She is planning to persue her master’s degree and PhD after graduation, with a focus in Clinical Psychology. She is originally from Botswana and plans to return to her home country after finishing with her studies in order to address mental health in the communities.

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