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.

Ester Chow

Summer Intern

Ester is currently a second year student at McMaster University pursuing a Honours Bachelor of Health Science degree with a specialization in child health. Through inquiry-based courses, her interest in child psychology began through self directed research projects and being challenged to create other non traditional learning opportunities. In working as a swimming instructor, camp counsellor, and volunteering at many programs directed to supporting children locally, she has developed a passion for working with children and learning about learning itself. As someone who has grown up with the heavy influence of music, she is interested in seeing applicable research in action firsthand. Additionally, she enjoys curating playlists, exploring creative outlets, and watching standup comedy.

Joey Ball

Summer Intern

Joey is currently an undergraduate student at Mount Holyoke College and is double majoring in Psychology and Music. Joey has been interested in understanding and researching music’s effects on people and the brain. She is excited to combine her passions for music research and working with children at the TEMPO Lab. In her free time, Joey likes to play guitar and write music.

Lucy Anderson

Summer Intern

Lucy Anderson is an undergraduate student at Mount Holyoke College in South Hadley, Massachusetts where she is currently pursuing a major in Neuroscience and Behavior. After several years of working in childcare, Lucy is eager to translate her passion for working with children to coding infant videos with the TEMPO Lab. Outside of her academics, Lucy likes to read novels, play piano, and spend time outside.

Rachel Moses

Summer Intern

Rachel is an undergraduate student at Mount Holyoke College studying Neuroscience and Behavior and Dance. She has grown up with a love for dance and teaching others. After working for a summer camp, a zoo, and in group projects, she has furthered her passion of working with children and found a love for integrating psychology with dance. Outside of academics she likes to hike new places, read, and paint.

Mikayla Samuel

Summer 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.

Sankeetha Kathir

Project Student

I am a second year Neuroscience Specialist student at the University of Toronto Scarborough. I am currently working on a project with Dr. Cirelli and Dr. Kragness on the low pitch timing superiority effect in adults when engaging sensorimotor processes. I am interested in developmental psychology and neuroscience in children and hope to pursue a career in this field. Outside of the lab, I enjoy binge-watching my favourite shows, reading novels, playing sitar, and volunteering at my church.

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 pursing a Bachelor of Science degree. Upon watching a National Geographic documentary on the brain at age ten, the curiosity it evoked within her brought the desire and determination to delve deeper into the mysteries of the brain that are yet to be discovered! In addition to her love of the brain, Idila also has immense love towards all aspects of music and various instruments such as guitar, clarinet, and violin. She believes that the Tempo Lab is the right fit for her as she gets to analyze infants’ perception of various forms of music. Aside 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

Calpanaa Jegatheeswaran, Project Student 2019-2020

Deepika Elango, Lab Manager 2018-2019

Ella Lawrence, Research Assistant 2018-2019

Heala Maudoodi, Project Student 2019-2020

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

Labeeb Talukder

Laiba Rizwan

Mishal Dar

Neena Jegandran, Thesis Student 2019-2020

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

Sangavi Sivananthan

Shreya Jha