Our Team

Director: Jana Iverson, Ph.D.

My research program focuses on relations between early motor development and later-emerging ‘higher-order’ skills (i.e., communication and language). Specifically, I am interested in understanding: a) the way in which development in motor skills provides infants with an increasingly diverse set of opportunities for acquiring and refining abilities that contribute to development in domains such as communication and language and in which delays or deficits in motor skills can exert cascading developmental effects extending well beyond the motor domain; b) the developmental relationship between gesture and speech in children acquiring language typically; c) the extent to which early gesture-speech links are sensitive to variation in input; and d) the nature of early motor and communicative development in children at risk for Autism Spectrum Disorders (ASD). My research uses a variety of techniques, including studying behavior (i.e., grasping, reaching, sitting, eye gaze, vocalizations, gesture s) and movement kinematics (i.e., wrist acceleration, postural sway) to understand how movement and communication develop in infants and young children.

I have been at Pitt since 2003 and have been our department's Director of Undergraduate Studies since 2013. I regularly have a large number of graduate and undergraduate students who work in my lab. I received the Chancellor’s Distinguished Research Award in 2007. I am a member of the Editorial Boards of Infancy, the Journal of Child Language, and Language Learning and Development, and am regularly on the conference review panels for the Meetings of the Society for Research in Child Development and the International Conference on Infant Studies.

The Infant Communication Lab

Graduate Students (left to right):

Emily Roemer, Jessie Northrup and Kelsey West.

Kelsey West:

Emily Roemer:

Joshua Schneider:

Undergraduate Assistants (Back row, left to right):

Maggie Laird, Kristen Korner, Sara Matheny, Sarah Markert, Tess Fulcher, Griffin Koch, Becca Halfhill. (Front row, left to right): Lily Smith, Valerie Cordero, Melissa Curioso, Jessica Lee, Casey Bruno, Alyssa Giegerich, Tessa Eberle. (Members absent): Douglas Wells, Emma Marsland-McCann, Molly Balk, Alexine Ferchak, Anna Carlson, Raeesa Islam, Ali McQuiston (graduate student), Christen Kraemer, Kaleigh Ritter, Laura Sankey, Ishita Srivastava, Emilie Transue (med student).

Staff (left to right):

Julija Hetherington, Data Manager; Maura Dillon, Research Assistant; Krista Pugliesi, Project Coordinator; Shelby Parsons, Research Assistant.

Our Collaborators