Lab Staff

April Benasich, Ph.D.

Director

 

Dr. Benasich is the Elizabeth H. Solomon Professor of Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience. She is also the Director of the Infancy Studies Lab and Director of the Carter Center for Neurocognitive Research. She received her PhD in Experimental/Cognitive Neuroscience and a PhD in Clinical Psychology from New York University.

She has been studying development of temporally-bounded sensory information processing (a major predictor of language impairment and dyslexia), the neural substrates that support these developing abilities and the relations seen with emerging language/cognitive abilities from infancy through early childhood. Examination of auditory evoked potentials (EEG/ERPs), complex auditory brainstem response (cABR) and naturally sleeping MRI/fMRI provide converging noninvasive physiological measures to her lab’s extensive behavioral battery. 

Data are also being gathered on an infant behavioral intervention developed to gently guide the developing brain to set up more efficient pathways for mounting language. Her findings are groundbreaking, as she has demonstrated for the first time that the ability to perform fine non-speech acoustic discriminations in early infancy is critically important to and highly predictive of later language development. These data further suggest that measures of rapid auditory processing ability may be used to identify and importantly, remediate infants at highest risk of language delay/impairment regardless of risk status.

Silvia is an associate professor at the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience. She received her MD degree in her native country, Colombia, from the Javeriana University, Bogotá. She completed a dual residence program in pediatrics and pediatric neurology and then established and directed pediatric neurology services at two hospitals in Colombia. Dr. Ortiz-Mantilla joined the Infancy Studies Lab as a post-doctoral fellow when she moved to the United States.  Her research interests include combining methodologies such as structural MRI, dense-array EEG/ERP, cABR, and behavioral measures to further understand speech/language development and perceptual processing in infants. She specializes in advanced analytical techniques, including source localization, spectro-temporal analyses, inter-trial phase locking and cross frequency coupling to assess neural oscillatory patterns in typically developing and high risk infants as well as children on the autism spectrum.

Silvia is an associate professor at the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience. She received her MD degree in her native country, Colombia, from the Javeriana University, Bogotá. She completed a dual residence program in pediatrics and pediatric neurology and then established and directed pediatric neurology services at two hospitals in Colombia. Dr. Ortiz-Mantilla joined the Infancy Studies Lab as a post-doctoral fellow when she moved to the United States.

Her research interests include combining methodologies such as structural MRI, dense-array EEG/ERP, cABR, and behavioral measures to further understand speech/language development and perceptual processing in infants. She specializes in advanced analytical techniques, including source localization, spectro-temporal analyses, inter-trial phase locking and cross frequency coupling to assess neural oscillatory patterns in typically developing and high risk infants as well as children on the autism spectrum.

Silvia Ortiz-Mantilla, M.D.

Associate Research Professor

 

Sue is a postdoctoral associate at the Infancy Studies Lab and co-PI on our infant sleep study, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health. In October 2017, Sue completed her Ph.D. in the Behavioral and Neural Sciences Graduate Program at the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience. She received her undergraduate degree in computer science from the Grove School of Engineering at City College of New York in 2008. Her research is focused on developmental sleep patterns, and while a graduate student, she helped initiate the first sleep studies in the lab. She is specifically interested in the development of neurophysiologic, autonomic, and circadian sleep patterns during infancy and how they are related to brain development and later cognitive and behavioral outcomes. Specific microstructural components of infant sleep are thought to represent active brain development and information processing. Gaining a better understanding of these features may contribute to creating more powerful diagnostic tools and interventions for developmental disorders. Sue has also had a long career in mobile tech and business and has enjoyed applying her experience to exploring how mobile sensing technologies can allow for more ethological and continuous measures of individual variability across development, particularly as it applies to measures of sleep.

Sue is a postdoctoral associate at the Infancy Studies Lab and co-PI on our infant sleep study, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health. In October 2017, Sue completed her Ph.D. in the Behavioral and Neural Sciences Graduate Program at the Center for Molecular and Behavioral Neuroscience. She received her undergraduate degree in computer science from the Grove School of Engineering at City College of New York in 2008. Her research is focused on developmental sleep patterns, and while a graduate student, she helped initiate the first sleep studies in the lab. She is specifically interested in the development of neurophysiologic, autonomic, and circadian sleep patterns during infancy and how they are related to brain development and later cognitive and behavioral outcomes. Specific microstructural components of infant sleep are thought to represent active brain development and information processing. Gaining a better understanding of these features may contribute to creating more powerful diagnostic tools and interventions for developmental disorders. Sue has also had a long career in mobile tech and business and has enjoyed applying her experience to exploring how mobile sensing technologies can allow for more ethological and continuous measures of individual variability across development, particularly as it applies to measures of sleep.

Sue Peters, Ph.D.

Postdoctoral Research Associate

 

Katie is a Ph.D. candidate in the Behavioral and Neural Sciences program at Rutgers University. She has a B.S. in Neuroscience and Behavior from the University of Notre Dame, where she was a research assistant in the Notre Dame Infant Studies Lab. Her research focuses on auditory processing, exploring how the infant brain responds to sounds throughout development and how neural responses differ among infants at a higher risk of developmental disorders. She’s also interested in relationships between auditory and visual processing, and ways in which these perceptual skills support cognitive and language development.

Katie is a Ph.D. candidate in the Behavioral and Neural Sciences program at Rutgers University. She has a B.S. in Neuroscience and Behavior from the University of Notre Dame, where she was a research assistant in the Notre Dame Infant Studies Lab. Her research focuses on auditory processing, exploring how the infant brain responds to sounds throughout development and how neural responses differ among infants at a higher risk of developmental disorders. She’s also interested in relationships between auditory and visual processing, and ways in which these perceptual skills support cognitive and language development.

Katie Wolfert, B.S.

Ph.D. Candidate, Behavioral and Neural Sciences

Cindy is the research coordinator for the Infancy Studies Lab. She received her B.S. and M.S. in speech-language pathology from Loyola University in Maryland. She holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, NJ state licensure to practice speech-language pathology, and NJ school certification as a speech-language specialist.  Her research interests include understanding brain mechanisms involved in auditory information processing in the first two years of life and their relationship to speech and language development.

Cindy is the research coordinator for the Infancy Studies Lab. She received her B.S. and M.S. in speech-language pathology from Loyola University in Maryland. She holds a Certificate of Clinical Competence from the American Speech-Language Hearing Association, NJ state licensure to practice speech-language pathology, and NJ school certification as a speech-language specialist.

Her research interests include understanding brain mechanisms involved in auditory information processing in the first two years of life and their relationship to speech and language development.

Cindy Roesler, M.S., CCC-SLP

Research Speech Pathologist

 

Rebecca is a NJ certified school psychologist and research psychologist at the Infancy Studies Lab. She earned a B.A. in psychology with highest honors from Oberlin College in 1994 and received her Psy.M. degree in school psychology from the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, Rutgers University in 1998. She specialized in infant and early childhood development through the Infant Specialized Interdisciplinary Studies (ISIS) program. She has worked as a school psychologist, a college learning consultant, and a researcher in two developmental labs.

Rebecca is a NJ certified school psychologist and research psychologist at the Infancy Studies Lab. She earned a B.A. in psychology with highest honors from Oberlin College in 1994 and received her Psy.M. degree in school psychology from the Graduate School of Applied and Professional Psychology, Rutgers University in 1998. She specialized in infant and early childhood development through the Infant Specialized Interdisciplinary Studies (ISIS) program. She has worked as a school psychologist, a college learning consultant, and a researcher in two developmental labs.

Rebecca Reale, Psy.M.

Senior Research Psychologist

 

Judy is the lab manager at the Infancy Studies Lab. She graduated from Georgetown in 2019 with a B.A. in psychology and minor in Spanish. She has worked with children all of her life through nannying and hopes to gain a more research-oriented understanding of infant language development at the lab. During her time here, she also aims to tackle the administrative and organizational work that keeps a lab such as ours operating smoothly! Most importantly, she hopes to foster long-lasting relationships with our families and spearhead recruitment efforts.

Judy MacDonald, B.A.

Lab Manager

Sabine is a senior research scientist at the Infancy Studies Laboratory. She received her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Konstanz in Germany, working on auditory processing in children with developmental language disorders. Following her post-doctoral fellowship under the guidance of Dr. April Benasich at Rutgers University, Sabine held faculty positions at the Universities of Konstanz and Frankfurt, the German Institute for International Educational Research, and Liverpool John Moores University, where she studied developmental aspects of language processing and selective attention. In collaboration with Dr. Benasich, she is currently conducting research in the oscillatory brain dynamics underlying different aspects of cognitive and social development. Sabine is also interested in the assessment of cognitive and socio-emotional propensities in children with severe motor and speech impairments. One major long-term goal of her research is to contribute to education and training efforts that foster academic competency in children.

Sabine is a senior research scientist at the Infancy Studies Laboratory. She received her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of Konstanz in Germany, working on auditory processing in children with developmental language disorders. Following her post-doctoral fellowship under the guidance of Dr. April Benasich at Rutgers University, Sabine held faculty positions at the Universities of Konstanz and Frankfurt, the German Institute for International Educational Research, and Liverpool John Moores University, where she studied developmental aspects of language processing and selective attention. In collaboration with Dr. Benasich, she is currently conducting research in the oscillatory brain dynamics underlying different aspects of cognitive and social development. Sabine is also interested in the assessment of cognitive and socio-emotional propensities in children with severe motor and speech impairments. One major long-term goal of her research is to contribute to education and training efforts that foster academic competency in children.

Sabine Heim, Ph.D.

Senior Research Scientist

Teresa is the project coordinator at the Infancy Studies Lab. She earned her B.A. in biology and psychology at Rutgers, and her MPH with a specialty in biostatistics and epidemiology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.  Her research interests include processing and analysis of electrophysiological measures and eye-tracking data to study infant information processing and its relationship to early cognitive and language development. She is responsible for the maintenance and update of the lab's experimental equipment as well as preparing data for sharing with collaborators.

Teresa is the project coordinator at the Infancy Studies Lab. She earned her B.A. in biology and psychology at Rutgers, and her MPH with a specialty in biostatistics and epidemiology at the University of Medicine and Dentistry of New Jersey.

Her research interests include processing and analysis of electrophysiological measures and eye-tracking data to study infant information processing and its relationship to early cognitive and language development. She is responsible for the maintenance and update of the lab's experimental equipment as well as preparing data for sharing with collaborators.

Teresa Realpe-Bonilla, M.P.H.

Project Coordinator

 

Julie is a registered nurse. She hails from Minneapolis, MN, where she received her nursing education from the University of Minnesota and Bethel College. Her research interests include the child as a recipient of inputs from objects and events occurring in connection with parental responsivity in the home environment. She is also currently performing Autism Diagnostic Observations (ADOS) assessments for the NJLAGS study, which is investigating how genes influence the development of Autism.

Julie is a registered nurse. She hails from Minneapolis, MN, where she received her nursing education from the University of Minnesota and Bethel College. Her research interests include the child as a recipient of inputs from objects and events occurring in connection with parental responsivity in the home environment. She is also currently performing Autism Diagnostic Observations (ADOS) assessments for the NJLAGS study, which is investigating how genes influence the development of Autism.

Julie Morgan-Byrne, R.N.

Research Assistant and Parent Liaison

Gladys is a research aide at the Infancy Studies Lab. She graduated in May 2019 with a B.A. in psychology and a minor in biology with a pre-health concentration. She hopes to obtain more experience working in the field of research to gain a deeper understanding of how psychology research is conducted. She also has a great interest in children. Gladys's career goal is to become a psychiatrist.

Gladys is a research aide at the Infancy Studies Lab. She graduated in May 2019 with a B.A. in psychology and a minor in biology with a pre-health concentration. She hopes to obtain more experience working in the field of research to gain a deeper understanding of how psychology research is conducted. She also has a great interest in children. Gladys's career goal is to become a psychiatrist.

Gladys Owusu-Broni, B.A.

Research Aide

 
 

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