Lab Director

Dr. Elizabeth Wakefield is an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Loyola University Chicago and director of the Movement & Learning Lab. Dr. Wakefield earned her B.A. from Kalamazoo College and her Ph.D. from Indiana University. She continued her training as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Chicago, before joining the faculty at Loyola.

Dr. Wakefield employs behavioral, eye tracking and neuroimaging methods to understand how children and adults process and learn through different forms of movement experience: actions and gestures. Learn more about research happening in the lab by visiting "Our Research"!

Outside interests: cooking, singing, friends, and family

Graduate Students

Katharine Guarino is a fourth year graduate student. In her work, she explores how we transform experiences of the physical, concrete world into abstract knowledge. At the core of her research are questions of how humans develop knowledge, specifically knowledge that comes from abstracting across multiple experiences in the form of relational reasoning, inference, and generalization. Currently, she is investigating how relational reasoning ability is acquired using behavioral and eye tracking methods, and how two instructional methods, action and gesture, facilitate knowledge creation.

Outside interests: movies, puzzles, woodwork, drawing, spending time with family and friends, horseback riding, traveling 

Undergraduate Research Assistants

Laura Bottei is a junior at Loyola, majoring in music and psychology. She is interested in music cognition as an intersection of these two fields. On the music side, she plays primarily organ and piano. Laura intends to pursue graduate work in one or both of her major fields.


Outside interests: musical theatre, dogs, cooking, quoting sitcoms, and ice cream

Erin Foy is a junior at Loyola University Chicago, majoring in Psychology and Cognitive/Behavioral Neuroscience. She is also a part of the Interdisciplinary Honors Program, and hopes to pursue a career in neuropsychology or psychopathology. Outside of her studies, Erin enjoys working with children and running Loyola’s swing dancing club..


Outside interests: music and theatre, baking, classic literature, spending time with friends and family

Allison Haussler is a senior majoring in Psychology and Dance. She hopes to combine her interests and pursue a career in Dance Therapy or continue with Psychology at the graduate level. During past summers, Allison has enjoyed working at a camp for kids with developmental disabilities.


Outside interests: dance, baking, spending time with friends and family, traveling

Mady Jurcev is a senior, studying Behavioral and Cognitive Neuroscience and Psychology. She is on the Pre-Med track, hoping to pursue a career in either neonatology or neurology. Mady is also training to become a certified Emergency Medical Technician and enjoys volunteering at hospitals.


Outside interests: painting, cooking, baking, watching hockey, playing sand volleyball

Tigist (Tg) Mersha ia sophomore at Loyola University majoring in Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience and minoring in Bioethics. I am interested in going to medical school and becoming a pediatric neurologist or oncologist, but I am still exploring my options beyond these two specializations. During my spare time, I volunteer at UIC and St. Francis hospitals as well as shadow doctors.


Outside interests: listening to jazz, playing saxophone, walking on sunset, exploring new places as well as trying new food, and watching my favorite shows! 

Victoria Roberts is a junior at Loyola University studying Cognitive and Behavioral Neuroscience with a minor in psychology. She is a member of Loyola's Interdisciplinary Honors Program and previously worked as a research assistant under Dr. Anne Sutter. After graduation, Victoria's career goals include pursuing a PhD in neurophysiology or neuropsychology and becoming a research scientist or professor. Outside of academics Victoria loves to spend time with friends and family and unwind by doing yoga by the lake whenever she can


Outside interests: exercising, cooking, sketching, theatre, video games

Mariana Sosa is a senior studying Molecular and Cellular Neuroscience with a minor in Psychology. She is also a part of the Interdisciplinary Honors Program. Mariana is on the Pre-Med track exploring her options within the field. Outside of school, she enjoys volunteering for different organizations working with both children and adults.. 


Outside interests: biking, dogs, music, cooking, art history and traveling

Natalia Zielinski is a junior at Loyola University Chicago, studying in the Interdisciplinary Honors Program and majoring in Molecular Cellular Neuroscience and Psychology. She is on the Pre-Med track, hoping to pursue a career in neurology or psychiatry. Away from her studies, Natalia enjoys volunteering at hospitals and animal shelters in the Chicagoland area. 


Outside interests: embroidery, playing violin, hiking, reading

Lab Alumni

  • Demiana Agaiby (2018-2019): graduate student

  • Erick Larios-Bautista (2016-2017): medical school student

  • Sarah Heimberg (2016-2017): veterinary assistant

  • Natalie Schomas (2016-2017): film freelancer

  • Nema Shareef (2017-2018): student 

  • Sasha Stojanovich (2017-2019): assistant teacher - loyola university preschool

  • Gina Wrolstad (2018-2019): practice associate - chicago speech therapy

External Collaborators

We also have many wonderful research collaborators:


  • Dr. Susan Goldin-Meadow (University of Chicago)

  • Dr. Karin James (Indiana University)

  • Dr. Miriam Novack (Northwestern University)

  • Dr. Eliza Congdon (Williams College)

  • Dr. Lauren Howard (Franklin & Marshall College)

  • Dr. Susan Levine (University of Chicago)

  • Dr. Amanda Woodward (University of Chicago)