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 and the Vice President of the New River Valley Chapter of VAAEYC (the Virginia Association for the Education of Young Children). 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

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.

Isabel Valdivia is a first year PhD student in the Human Development and Family Science, Child & Adolescent Development concentration, program. She graduated from Pontificia Universidad Catolica, Chile, where she majored in Biology. After that she taught in a high school as part of Teach for Chile, part of the Teach for All network. Hoping to know more about the learning process, she went to Harvard University and got a MEd in Mind, Brain, and Education. She then opened a PK-12 charter school in a rural area of Chile meant to serve low-income students and prepare them to succeed in college by achieving academic excellency and developing socioemotional skills. Being a former Vice principal in that school led to broaden her interest from practice to research in order to better understand how executive functions interplay with emotions throughout the learning process in childhood and adolescence.

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Saba Ahmed is a senior majoring in Human Development. She is also minoring in Disabilities Studies, Spanish, and Leadership and Social Change. She is an active member of the service fraternity, Alpha Phi Omega. She has many experiences working with children, such as lesson planning and teaching in a 5th grade class, volunteering as a teacher's assistant for a second grade class, and working at a preschool. After graduating, Saba plans to pursue a master's in Education and then become an elementary school teacher.

Ninie Asad is a senior pursuing a dual degree in Human Development and Psychology, as well as a minor in Adaptive Brain and Behavior. Ninie is specifically interested in learning about how environmental factors, such as socioeconomic status, can impact children's development and translate into their understanding of concepts in learning and subsequent academic success. After graduation, Ninie hopes to further her education in child development and attend graduate school to pursue a career in research.

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.

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.

Katelyn Quinn is a senior double majoring in psychology and human development with a minor in sociology. She wanted to gain more experience with children and learning after she was an intern at a special education school called SEARCH Learning Group; she saw this Learning and Development lab as an opportunity to get hands-on experience about this topic. After graduation, she hopes to continue on to graduate school to obtain a degree in counseling.

Brinn MacLellan is a sophomore majoring in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience with a minor in Leadership and Social Change. She joined the CLAD lab to expand her knowledge on cognitive development After graduation, she sees the possibility of attending graduate school to study the field of Educational Neuroscience. Her aspirations are to redesign the American education system in a more logical and effective manner in order to best cater to the needs of all students.

Lilly Nelson is a junior majoring in human development with a minor in adaptive brain and behavior. She joined the Learning and Development Lab to expand her understanding of children's cognitive processes and the role of their environment in these processes. She is passionate about working with children, and hopes to pursue a career in pediatric medicine.

Rachel Castro is a junior double majoring in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience and Psychology, with a minor in literature. She joined the CLAD lab because she is interested in working with children and learning how their cognitive processes develop. After graduation, she hopes to work towards a PhD program in Clinical Psychology or to go to law school.

Hannah Madren is a senior majoring in Human Developement with minors in Language Sciences as well as Leadership and Social Change. She has always been interested in working with children and understanding how they cognitively develop. After graduation, she hopes to continue on to graduate school to pursue a career in speech-language pathology.

Lab Alumni

May 2022 Graduates

Christine Berry '22. Christine is working as a Special Education Instructional Assistant in Northern Virginia, before applying for School Psychology programs.

Gina DeLeo '22. Gina is attending graduate school at Virginia Tech for Elementary Education.

Katherine D'Ercole '22. Katherine is taking a ap year to focus on research experience to prepare her for a career in clinical psychology.

Beth Marsico '22. Beth is attending graduate school at Virginia Tech and getting her MAEd in Curriculum and Instruction.

Mimi Rainey '22.

Maddi Walker '22. Maddi is working toward becoming a first-grade teacher in Georgia and planning on getting her master's in education.

December 2021 Graduates

Maria Hirt '21. Maria has been working for Strategic Therapy Associates based out of Roanoke. She is an Intensive In-Home Clinician. She works with kids and adults in the home who are at risk of being removed from the home.

Maria Meara '21. Maria has been accepted to the University of Virginia's Master of Teaching in Elementary Education.

Brianna Whitmore '21. Brianna will be continuing her studies at Radford Carillon in their Physicians Assistant program.

May 2021 Graduates

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.

May 2020 Graduates

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