Dr. Annelise Pesch
Annelise is a Postdoctoral Fellow working with Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek on the expansion of Playful Learning Landscapes to Santa Ana, California in collaboration with Drs. Andres Bustamante and June Ahn at the University of California-Irvine. She received her PhD in Developmental Psychology from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota under the supervision of Dr. Melissa Koenig. Her dissertation examined how preschoolers’ epistemic and interpersonal trust in teachers impacted learning in classroom contexts. She is interested in understanding the components of interactions that support children’s learning, with the goal of bridging gaps between research and real-world application.
Dr. Rachael Todaro
Rachael is a Postdoctoral Fellow working with Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek on designing, implementing, and researching the impact of Playful Learning Landscapes at a local, national, and international level. She received her Ph.D. in Educational Psychology at Kent State University under the supervision of Dr. Bradley J. Morris. Her dissertation investigated the effectiveness of innovative, evidence-based mathematical interventions and the impact of individual differences on performance with underserved elementary school students. Related work investigates the optimal presentation formats for early literacy and mathematical learning. Her research interests include promoting early math, number sense, and literacy learning through evidence-based, playful interventions.
Dr. Hailey Gibbs
Hailey is a Postdoctoral Fellow working with Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek on the expansion of Playful Learning Landscapes and related research with national and international collaborators. She received her Ph.D. in Human Development and Quantitative Methodology from the University of Maryland College Park under the supervision of Dr. Lucas Payne Butler. Hailey is interested in the role that questions play in children’s interactions with peers and caregivers, their understanding of the relation between evidence and knowledge-building, and the features of learning environments that best support children’s scientific literacy and critical thinking. Her dissertation examined the intersection between children’s assessments of the quality of others people’s questions and their characterizations of those people as more reliable, knowledgeable, or competent. Her work is also broadly motivated by the goal of translating scientific practice for broader application.
Dr. Katelyn Fletcher
Katelyn is a Post-Doctoral Fellow currently working with Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek to bring Playful Learning Landscapes into Bright Horizon preschool centers. She received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from New York University under the supervision of Dr. Catherine Tamis-LeMonda. Katelyn’s dissertation investigates how physical and social features of the environment shape early language learning and play. She is passionate about collaborating with communities to integrate the science of playful learning into everyday activities and places.
Elliott Johnson, Ph.D.
Elliott is a Post-Doctoral Fellow working for Drs. Nora Newcombe and Ingrid Olson. He received his B.A. in Psychology at Carleton College in 2013 and his Ph.D. in Human Development at the University of California, Davis in 2020. Elliott is interested in examining the development of learning and memory abilities in children using both behavioral and neuroimaging methods. So far, he has primarily examined how hippocampal structure and function supports episodic memory abilities in very young children, but has also recently expanded this approach to the examination of the overlap between memory and word learning. He has additionally dabbled in metamemory, and in the continuing development of episodic memory through adolescence. He enjoys metal music, hanging out with his cats and very small dog, brewing beer, and sci-fi.