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.

Lanyi Lin, BSc

Lab Coordinator

Lanyi completed her Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience from McGill University in 2019. She is currently the lab coordinator for the TEMPO Lab, the Laboratory for Infant Studies, and the Music Cognition Lab at the University of Toronto, Scarborough. Through her varied past research experiences in adolescent sleep, mitochondrial dynamics, cell survival, and music cognition, Lanyi has concluded that she most enjoys research that works with people. Lanyi is also a graphic designer, foodie, and classical music enthusiast.

Neena Jegandran

Thesis Student

Neena Jegandran is a fourth year student pursuing a double major in Neuroscience and Mental Health Studies. She is currently working on her thesis with Dr. Cirelli that focuses on infants’ response to musical performance. Her other lab experiences range from researching about the associated benefits of early music education to studying the implementation of learning strategies in the classroom. Outside of the lab, Neena enjoys playing the piano, exploring the city and spending time with her family and friends.

Rachel Peiris

Thesis Student

Rachel Peiris is double-majoring in Neuroscience and Psychology at the University of Toronto. She will be graduating in June 2020. Having completed a supervised study with Dr. Cirelli last year on the musical behaviour of siblings in naturalistic interactions, Rachel is currently pursuing a thesis. Her project focuses on children’s comprehension of emotion portrayed through music. Outside of academics, she enjoys watching movies, reading books, and adding items to her ever-growing bucket list.

Calpanaa Jegatheeswaran, HBSc

Project Student

Calpanaa recently graduated from the University of Toronto, Scarborough Campus with an Honours Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience and Psychology. She is currently completing a supervised project with Dr. Cirelli and Dr. Schmuckler on the subject of groove – more to come! Her plan is to pursue a Master’s Degree in Developmental Psychology as her passion lies in education, Psychology and working with children. Outside of the lab, Calpanaa enjoys working at the Ontario Science Centre and Royal Ontario Museum. She also loves playing the sitar, and performing her classical dance form.

Heala Maudoodi

Project Student

I am currently a fourth-year student at UTSC completing my BSc in neuroscience and psychology. My passion for child psychology commenced when I worked as a research assistant at the Ryerson BEE lab, where the primary focus was the emotion development and regulation of infants. From there on, my interest in child psychology further expanded, and now I hope to learn more about the social and emotional development of infants. At the TEMPO lab, I’m assisting Dr. Cirelli and Dr. Schmuckler with the ManyBabies project, where we’re examining infants’ preference for prosocial agents over anti-social agents, while acknowledging that social evaluation is not only crucial for perceiving the world but apparent even throughout infancy. Aside from academics, I enjoy working out, reading novels, and writing.

Julia Prosper Santiago, HBSc

Project Student

Julia Prosper Santiago recently graduated from the University of Toronto with her Bachelor of Science with Honours in Human Biology and Psychology. She previously worked as a work-study research assistant at the TEMPO Lab, and is now pursuing a supervised study with Dr. Cirelli in infant perception of audiovisual synchrony – exploring the effects of rhythmic complexity and the effects of pitch! She plans on pursuing higher education in studying applied child psychology and development. Aside from her academic interests and working with a young (and adorable) population, she loves film, photography, and singing!

Ella Lawrence

Research Assistant

I am currently a fourth-year student pursuing a Specialist Co-op degree in Mental Health Studies. As a work-study student, I will be helping to analyze infant-music data videos by coding the behavioural expressions of infants perception to music. Previously, I worked at Baycrest Hospital in a neuroscience lab where I was involved in performing administrative duties related to the Stroke Patient Recovery Research Database, as well as recruiting and screening participants for an MRI research study. My main interest is how humans develop through the lifespan across cognitive, emotional and physical domains. In Dr. Cirelli’s lab, I am very interested to learn what effect music has on an infants cognitive and social-emotional development.

Fatima Ali

Research Assistant

Fatima is a second-year student at the University of Toronto Scarborough pursuing a major in Human Biology. She has previously worked as an assistant at a community arts organization and then a clinic. Fatima is quite passionate about biology and is interested in cognitive and social development from infancy. Outside the lab, Fatima is an avid reader and volunteers with the University Health Network’s Hospital Elderly Life Program.

Idila Yogeswaran

Research Assistant

Idila is currently a first year student hoping to pursue a Bachelor of Science degree, and will serve as a Researcher for the Tempo Lab this year. Upon watching a National Geographic documentary on the brain when she was only ten years of age, the curiosity it evoked within her brought with it the desire and determination to delve deeper into the many mysteries of the brain that are yet to be discovered! In addition to her love of the brain, having immense love towards all aspects of music and various instruments such as guitar, clarinet, and violin, Idila believes that the Tempo Lab is the right fit for her as she gets to analyze infants’ perception of various forms of music. Asides from her academic interests, Idila enjoys playing guitar to her two pet birds and taking leisurely strolls in the park with her parents.

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.

Saghar Baqizada

Research Assistant

Saghar Baqizada is an undergraduate student in her fourth year of pursuing a double major in Psychology and Neuroscience. She is interested in developmental psychology – namely learning, decision-making and memory. She is eager to explore the infant mind in relation to music and social behaviour. Her hobbies include traveling, reading fiction, and spending time with her Siamese cat.

Vishnija Asokan

Research Assistant

Vishnija Asokan is a 3rd-year student pursuing her HBSc in Human Biology and Psychology. She previously volunteered in the TEMPO lab where she helped conduct audio-visual synchrony experiments on infants and helped edit the infant-music data videos. Outside of the lab, Vishnija is a program facilitator for special needs youth and volunteers as a research assistant in a neuropsychology lab that conducts EEG experiments. In the future, she wishes to pursue a career in the field of Psychology, working with youth.

Kevin Naismith, HBSc


Kevin Naismith is a recent graduate of UTSC, receiving his HBSc. specializing in Human Biology and Minoring in Psychology. Kevin has always had a passion for science, music, and working with children. Previously, he volunteered in Centenary Hospital’s Pediatrics Wing and currently volunteers at the TEMPO lab. Outside of the lab, Kevin enjoys playing the guitar, spending time with friends, and travelling.

Past Members

Deepika Elango: Lab Manager 2018-2019, now at Bloomberg Faculty of Nursing at the University of Toronto

Labeeb Talukder

Laiba Rizwan

Mishal Dar

Sangavi Sivananthan

Shreya Jha