Laura Cirelli, PhD

Principal Investigator

Dr. Cirelli received her PhD in psychology from McMaster University. She began directing the TEMPO lab at the University of Toronto, Scarborough in 2018. Her previous research explored how musical activities promote infant prosociality, and how parental song regulates both parent and infant emotional responses. These findings have been featured on David Suzuki’s “The Nature of Things” and National Public Radio’s “Hidden Brain.”

Haley E. Kragness, PhD

Post-doctoral Fellow

Haley E. Kragness completed her PhD in Psychology, Neuroscience & Behaviour at McMaster University and is currently a post-doctoral researcher at the TEMPO Lab. Her research seeks to better understand human cognition and behavior by studying musical engagement, especially in early childhood. In her doctoral work, she developed a simple method of testing young children’s musical production, leading to insights about musical grouping and emotion understanding. Outside of the lab, Haley is an advocate for open access and scientific practices, an amateur flutist, and a cat enthusiast.

Matt Eitel

Lab Coordinator

Matt completed his MSc in the Music, Mind and Brain program at Goldsmiths, University of London, UK. His main research interests focus on the perception of chord progressions and how we interpret harmonic content in music. In his spare time, Matt enjoys playing the classical guitar, reading about history, and pondering anything related to music theory.

Arooba Mansoor

Project Student

Arooba is currently a third year student at the University of Toronto Scarborough pursuing a double major in Human Biology and Psychology. She is passionate about working with children and has volunteered in youth leadership programs, summer camps, as well as her local hospital. As a part of TEMPO lab, she is eager to explore her passions for music and working with children through researching infant development in relation to music cognition and perception. Outside of the lab, she enjoys bullet journaling, listening to podcasts, playing the flute and spending time with friends/family.

Farhat Ullah

Project Student

Farhat is a third year student at the University of Toronto Scarborough pursing a double major in neuroscience and human biology. She is striving to learn more about perception and public health through her undergraduate career. She is passionate about sparking happiness in children, spreading awareness about global topics, and hopes to provide access to quality healthcare to underprivileged children in Bangladesh. Outside of the lab, Farhat can be found brainstorming creative writing pieces and creating vacation itineraries for countries she dreams of visiting.

Hanqi Chen

Project Student

Hanqi is a fourth-year undergraduate student pursuing a Psychology Specialist degree at University of Toronto Scarborough. She is interested in developmental psychology and education, and hopes to pursue a career is these fields. Hanqi is currently working on a project with Dr. Cirelli and Dr. Kragness on infants’ daily music perception and song familiarity. Outside of the lab, Hanqi enjoys playing the piano, travelling, cooking and baking.

Jeffnie Fernando

Project Student

Jeffnie Fernando is currently a third year student at the University of Toronto Scarborough specializing in Mental Health Studies. After working at a daycare, she has furthered her passion for the domain of development, particularly in young children. Aside from her academic interests, Jeffnie likes to write poems, try new recipes, and go on excursions with her friends.

Parjanya Parikh

Project Student

Parjanya is a third-year student at the University of Toronto Scarborough pursuing a double major in Neuroscience and Immunology, with a minor in Psychology. She is interested in cognitive neuroscience and sensorimotor systems. As part of the TEMPO lab, Parjanya is working on a project regarding how musical features encourage auditory-motor synchronization in early childhood. Outside of academics, she is passionate about playing Indian classical music on the piano, painting and knitting. She hopes to start learning the Indian classical dance of Bharatnatyam this year as well.

Anusha Dath

Research Assistant

Anusha is a second-year student pursuing a Neuroscience Specialist and a Biomedical Ethics Minor at the University of Toronto Scarborough. She is interested in cognitive development during early childhood. Her desire to work with children was partly influenced by her younger twin sisters who have amazed her since she was six. Apart from her work as a Research Assistant, Anusha is an ESL tutor to children affected by conflict in their home country, volunteers at a mental health non-profit organization, and enjoys pastimes such as drawing, reading, and playing the flute.

Areeba Qureshi

Research Assistant

Areeba is a third-year student at the University of Toronto (St. George) pursuing a specialist in Neuroscience and a major in Biochemistry. She is passionate about understanding the nuances of neuroplasticity, and after teaching her younger brother to play the keyboard, is very interested in how young children learn. Outside academics, Areeba also likes to bake, play the guitar, read books and travel.

Mikayla Samuel

Research Assistant

Mikayla Samuel is currently a third year student at the University of Toronto Scarborough pursuing a double major in Psychology and Health Studies. She is quite passionate about developmental psychology, especially memory and perception in young children, and plans on pursuing a career in this field. Aside from academics, Mikayla has a strong musical background playing various instruments like the piano, violin and alto saxophone and therefore believes that the TEMPO Lab is a perfect fit for her, as she looks forward to exploring the music cognition and perception of rhythmic patterns in infants and children.

Faith Anantharajan

Research Assistant

Faith is currently a student at University of Toronto Scarborough who is pursuing a Specialist in Mental Health alongside a Minor in French. She is passionate about children and adolescent mental health and hopes to continue working with them in her career. Academics aside, you will find Faith gaming, reading, playing piano, or trying to figure out how to get back into violin. Music has always been a large part of her life and Faith will always find a way to fit music into whatever she is doing, making the TEMPO lab the perfect place for her to be at!

Idila Yogeswaran

Research Assistant

Idila is currently an undergraduate student at the University of Toronto and has been a part of the Tempo Lab family for the past two years! With an immense love towards music and being well-versed in the playing of guitar, clarinet, and violin, she believes the Tempo Lab is the right fit for her as she gets to analyze infants’ perception of various aspects of music and thus explore the process of music perception and learning at the earliest stages of life. Aside from her academic interests, Idila enjoys playing guitar, dancing Bhartanatyam, and playing with her two pet birds!

Marisa Oliveros

Research Assistant

I am currently a third year student completing a double major in Human Biology and Psychology. I love working with children and youth, and have been granted the opportunity to observe the growth and development of my 3 and 5 year old sisters since their birth. I am a passionate advocate for health specifically for those who lack access to it or cannot advocate for themselves.I would like to incorporate my education in psychology and biology into my future studies of health and health policy.

Sydney Chiu

Research Assistant

Sydney Chiu is currently a 4th year student at the University of Toronto Faculty of Music. She is pursuing her Bachelor of Music Education, studying the saxophone as her primary instrument. With a love for conducting and music making, Sydney is passionate about music education and is interested in the psychology of music learning. She looks forward to working and learning in the TEMPO lab. Outside of school, Sydney enjoys cooking and taking care of her bunny, Millie.

Emma Chan
Lab Associate
Emma recently completed her BSc (Hons) as a Mental Health Studies Specialist and is currently applying to graduate programs in Clinical Psychology. Her interests focus on child development, particularly ways to make growing up less difficult, and she is committed to intersectional approaches combining evidence-based interventions with individual client preferences. She has worked on a variety of research projects, both individual and collaborative, and is currently preparing her thesis manuscript for peer review.After obtaining her PhD, she hopes to provide mental health support to children and families. In her free time Emma can be found exploring Toronto neighbourhoods with her wife and dogs, eating gelato, and doing statistical analyses for fun!


Past Members

Fatima Ali, Research assistant 2020

Calpanaa Jegatheeswaran, Project Student 2019-2020

Deepika Elango, Lab Manager 2018-2019

Ella Lawrence, Research Assistant 2018-2019

Esther Chow, Summer Intern 2020

Heala Maudoodi, Project Student 2019-2020

Joey Ball, Summer Intern 2020

Julia Santiago, Project Student 2019-2020, Research Assistant Summer 2019

Kevin Naismith, Volunteer 2019

Labeeb Talukder

Lanyi Lin, Lab Coordinator 2019-2020

Laiba Rizwan

Lucy Anderson, Summer Intern 2020

Mishal Dar

Neena Jegandran, Thesis Student 2019-2020

Rachel Moses, Summer Intern 2020

Rachel Peiris, Thesis Student 2019-2020, Project Student 2018-2019

Saghar Baqizada, Research Assistant 2018-2020

Sangavi Sivananthan

Sankeetha Kathir, Project Student 2020

Shreya Jha