People

Lab Director

Dr. Caroline Hornburg

Dr. Caroline Hornburg, an Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Science at Virginia Tech, is the director of the Learning and Development Lab. Dr. Hornburg is also the director of the Childhood Pre-Education major at Virginia Tech. Dr. Hornburg received her Ph.D. in May 2017 under the direction of Dr. Nicole McNeil in the Cognition Learning and Development Lab at the University of Notre Dame. Following her Ph.D., she completed two years of postdoctoral training in the Cognition and Learning Lab at Purdue University.

Graduate Research Assistants

Caroline Begley is a first year graduate student in the Masters to PhD program in Human Development and Family Science. She got her undergraduate at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville in Child Development and Psychology. Her senior thesis focused on adolescent development related to their experience with parental incarceration and their future expectations. She hopes to continue this line of research in the future, as well as apply it to the different areas of interest with the Learning and Development Lab.

Jisun Kim is a Doctoral Student in Virginia Tech’s Department of Human Development and Family Science. She earned her bachelor's and master's degree in Human Development and Family Studies at Seoul National University. Jisun is interested in children's use of interactive media (video chat, eBooks, etc.) in a learning context and how to support effective learning with media.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Christine Berry is a senior majoring in Human Development and Psychology, with minors in Sociology and Disabilities Studies. Christine joined the Learning and Development Lab to understand more about young children's learning processes, as well as ways to improve math related educational practices. After graduation, she hopes to attend a graduate program for school psychology.

Marie Costanzo is a senior majoring in Biochemistry and Spanish. She joined the Learning & Development Lab due to her passion for working with children and to expand her research experiences. After graduation she hopes to pursue a PhD in Global Disease Epidemiology and Control to help communities all over the world.

Gina DeLeo is a senior majoring in Human Development and is planning on attending Virginia Tech in the Fall for graduate school in elementary education. She joined the CLAD lab because she has a passion for children and she wants to have a better understanding on the way a child develops. After graduation she hopes to become a first grade teacher and eventually become a principal.

Katherine D’Ercole is a senior studying Psychology and Human Development with a minor in Disability Studies. Her research interests focus on child development, specifically looking at learning development in conjunction with the diagnosis of mental illness. After graduation she hopes to continue her education and earn a PhD in clinical psychology. Overall, her goal is to become a child’s psychologist and work with children of all learning abilities.

Hailey Foster is a junior majoring in Psychology and Human Development. She joined the lab to expand her research experiences in the field of developmental psychology. She enjoys working with children and wants to find ways to improve their learning experiences in school. After graduation, she is considering multiple advance degree paths such as Speech-Language Pathology, or obtaining her PhD in clinical psychology to become a Child Psychologist.

Maria Hirt is a senior majoring in Human Development with a minor in Psychology. She joined the Learning and Development Lab due to her interest in math education in elementary aged students. After graduation, she plans to work in a non-profit organization that will focus on inner city school districts that are in need of teachers. She also plans to further her career in child development by furthering her education through a graduate program. .

Elise Jensen is a senior majoring in Psychology and Human Development. She joined the Learning and Development lab due to her interest in children and their cognitive development during elementary school. After graduation, she hopes to attend a graduate program for mental health counseling.

Beth Marsico is a senior at Virginia Tech getting a B.S. in Psychology and a B.S. in Human Development. She also has a minor in Adaptive Brain and Behavior, and she is currently planning to attend Virginia Tech for her masters degree in Elementary Education. She was drawn to Dr. Hornburg’s lab because she loves children and loves understanding how they learn and grow. She additionally works at Blacksburg Kindercare with infants where she gets lots of hands-on experience with child development.

Maria Meara is a senior studying Human Development. She is planning on becoming a third or fourth grade teacher. She joined the lab her sophomore year, in hopes of learning more about math learning in elementary school students. She is particularly interested in math anxiety, and what can be done to reduce it in a classroom setting.

Julia Nathanson is a junior majoring in Human Development with double minors in Psychology and Peace Studies and Social Justice. She joined the Learning and Development Lab because of her interest in child development, especially cognitive development. After graduation, she hopes to go to graduate school and become either a high school counselor or a social worker in high need areas.

Mimi Rainey is a senior from Richmond, VA. She is majoring in Human Development and Family Science with a Psychology Minor. She is interested in several aspects of development including cognitive processes and psychological development. After graduation she is exploring several options such as a Masters in Clinical Social Work or continuing her studies to pursue a PhD.

Maddi Walker is a senior majoring in Human Development. She is interested in how children learn and what improvements can be made in curriculums to maximize learning. After graduation, Maddi plans on going to graduate school to get her masters in elementary education and become a fourth grade elementary school teacher.

Brianna Whitmore is a senior studying Biochemistry with minors in Chemistry and Integrative Health and Wellness. Brianna joined the Learning and Development Lab to learn more about cognitive development in children with regards to mathematical learning and to broaden her hands-on experience working with children. After graduation, she will be continuing her studies at Radford Carillon in their Physicians Assistant program.

Lab Alumni

2021

Madison Backer '21. Madison has been accepted to VT's Counselor Education Master's program.

Kelly Brents '21. Kelly is working as a summer camp counselor, then starting coursework to continue working with children in a medical setting.

Rachel Fairchild '21. Rachel hopes to work with a non-profit or attend graduate school to pursue a career to make a positive impact on the lives of others.

Leyao Huang '21. Leyao is going to get her Master's degree in Elementary Education and is interested in serving children in kindergarten or first grade.

Grace VanDerMeid '21. Grace is gaining more experience before applying to a graduate school program for therapy.

2020

Lauren Bolyard '20. Lauren is a graduate student in Industrial/Organizational Psychology.