Temple Infant & Child Laboratory | Post-Doctoral Fellows
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Post-Doctoral Fellows

ALPERDr. Rebecca Alper

Rebecca is a post-doctoral fellow and licensed speech-language pathologist working with Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek on the Enhancing Communication Foundations project. Rebecca completed her M.A., Ph.D. and a graduate certificate in Biostatistics at the University of Iowa, where she was a Presidential Fellow under the co-mentorship of Dr. Richard Hurtig and Dr. Karla McGregor. Her research thus far has focused on the role of clinicians and caregivers as agents of early speech-language and pre-literacy intervention, with a focus on the impact of psychosocial factors on intervention gains. Additionally, Rebecca is interested in research methodology and data analysis for speech-language research.

FLETCHERDr. Nicole Fletcher

Nicole Fletcher is a postdoctoral fellow working with Dr. Kathy Hirsch-Pasek on a research project exploring ways to best facilitate development of spatial skills in preschool children. She received her Ph.D. in mathematics education from Columbia University, where she completed a dissertation entitled “Development and Evaluation of a Computer Program to Teach Symmetry to Young Children” under the supervision of Dr. Herbert Ginsburg. Her research interests include early childhood and elementary mathematics, early geometry teaching and learning, special education and mathematics, and elementary mathematics professional development.

hassinger-bDr. Brenna Hassinger-Das

Brenna is a post-doctoral fellow working with Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek on a project designing and installing playful learning activities in public places (Urban Thinkscape). She received her Ph.D. in Education (Learning Sciences) from the University of Delaware, working with Dr. Nancy C. Jordan on developing number sense and mathematics vocabulary interventions for at-risk kindergartners. Brenna’s research interests include investigating the role of games in fostering learning as well as designing additional intervention studies in both language and mathematics.



LUODr. Rufan Luo

Rufan Luo is a post-doctoral fellow working with Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek. She is working on the Enhancing the Communication Foundation (ECF) project, which aims to promote the quality of parent-child communication and children’s language development through center-based and home-based interventions. Rufan received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from New York University in 2015, supervised by Dr. Catherine Tamis-LeMonda. Her dissertation examined preschool children’s language and literacy experiences in low-income, ethnically diverse families. In general, Rufan’s research interests include children’s home learning experiences, parenting, parent-child interaction, language and cognitive development, and sociocultural contexts.

NAZARETHDr. Alina Nazareth

Alina is a post-doctoral associate working with Dr. Nora Newcombe, on investigating individual differences in navigation ability across the lifespan.  She received her Ph.D. in Psychology from Florida International University, working with Dr. Shannon M. Pruden on the cognitive and experiential factors that affect adult mental rotation performance. Her dissertation investigated the different cognitive strategies as a function of the temporal properties of eye movement as recorded by the Tobii X60 eye-tracker. Alina’s research interests also include studying the role of cognitive strategy, gender beliefs and stereotypes, spatial activity experience, and spatial anxiety in explaining individual differences in spatial ability.

toub-tDr. Tamara Spiewak Toub

Tamara is a postdoctoral fellow working with Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek. Her current primary project focuses on the use of adult-supported book-reading and playful learning activities to facilitate vocabulary development in preschoolers from low-income families. She and her research collaborators are working alongside classroom teachers and other school staff to design and implement activities that are practical, engaging, and effective. Tamara has also worked on our project examining instructional strategies to facilitate preschoolers’ spatial learning and the relative effectiveness of instructional delivery via digital versus more traditional, concrete formats. She is also bringing experience and interests in theater to our new project examining how involvement in a theater program might benefit children with autism. Tamara earned her Ph.D. in developmental psychology at the University of Washington, supervised by Dr. Betty Repacholi and Dr. Stephanie Carlson (University of Minnesota). Her dissertation explored the relation between preschoolers’ pretend play and executive function (i.e., self-control). Tamara’s other graduate work focused on infants’ understanding of others’ emotions.  Broadly, Tamara is interested in children’s development of and through social relationships and in promoting the application of research findings in children’s everyday lives.