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Congratulations Yuqing Lei for winning the Milton Dean Havron Social Sciences Award!

The Milton Dean Havron Social Sciences Award was created to recognize amazing graduate students and help them complete their degree. Our very own grad student, Yuqing Lei, has been awarded for academic excellence and outstanding work in the department! Go Yuqing!

Flux Society and FIT'NG Conference

Our lab members and alumni presented their posters at Flux! Check out our presentations here!

Outstanding Undergrad, Jonathan Booker, awarded Best Poster Design and third place in Undergrad Research Poster Competition at the Black Doctoral Network Conference!

The Black Doctoral Network is a non-profit organization founded in 2012 that is dedicated to promoting the academic and professional success among the next generation of STEM scholars and students through mentorship, resources, support, and development. This year's conference was held in Atlanta, GA with one of our undergraduate students, Jonathan, attending. He won two awards, received great feedback, and had an awesome experience! Check out his presentation here! Go Jonathan!

Undergraduate Christian Diaz at MiNDS Retreat 2023

Check out his presentation here!

Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program - Thank you!

Shout-out to our lab members Jonathan Booker and Kimaya Brown for completing the Ronald McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program!

A message from Dr. LaToya Walters, director of the McNair program: The Ronald McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program would like to thank you for your commitment and dedication to our scholars! The weekly participation, guidance and support that you have shown towards their research, presentation development, and graduate school preparation is much appreciated. We are filled with gratitude that many of you are continuing to work with your mentee's during the academic year and want to assist a new scholar next summer 2024! Again thank you for making the Summer Research Institute (SRI) 2023 a success!

Undergraduate Research Day 2023

Undergraduate Research Day 2023. College Park, Maryland.

Our lab members and alumni presented their posters at UGRD! Check out our presentations here!

Our very own Tamara Allard featured in College of Behavioral and Social Sciences article!

PSYC Ph.D. Candidate on Track to Graduate, Get Hired by Federal Government

The Washington, D.C. trip that Washington state-native Tamara Allard took the year before applying to graduate school was a large part of the reason why she decided to apply to the University of Maryland’s psychology Ph.D. program—she “fell in love with the DMV.” Fast forward to today, and now, Allard will likely be working for the employer the District is most known for: the United States government. Check it out HERE!

Society for Research in Child Development Conference Presentations

2023 Society for Research in Child Development biennial meeting. Salt Lake City, Utah.

Our lab members and alumni presented their posters at SRCD! Check out our presentations here!

Dr. Riggins was awarded as a 2022 Woman of Influence!

Being one of the three women to win the award, Dr. Riggins was "ultimately selected for [her] mentorship, work/life balance, social and polittical justice, and sexual harrasment prevention efforts" for women at the university. Her drive and initiative has been extrmely beneficial to the community she strives to serve. Read more about it in this article.

Congratulations to the Spring 2022 Graduating Seniors!

Special congratulations to Allison Weber, Sigalle Bahary, Isabel Wilder, MaryEmily Ballas, Eliana Abel, and Julia Wall on graduating! Best wishes.

NCDL at the Return of Maryland Day!

April 30th was the first Maryland Day in two years since the pandemic. It was a huge hit! We were able to connect with over 400 families for our Infant and Child Studies Consortium.

Congratulations to Dr. Morgan Botdorf for defending her dissertation in Spring 2021!

She was recently awarded the Charles A. Caramello Distinguished Dissertation Award which recognizes original work that makes an unusually significant contribution to the discipline. Dr. Botdorf's dissertation “Assessing the impact of typical variations in stressful life events on hippocampal development in childhood,” was the winner in the disciplinary area of Biological and Life Sciences.

Congrats to our new lab graduates of Spring 2021!

Undergraduate lab members Avery Arena, Paige Munshell, Kelly Corkery, and Katherine Coley recently graduated from the University of Maryland.

Congratulations to Kelsey Canada for defending her dissertation in Spring 2020!

Kelsey presented her dissertation titled "Examining the co-development of episodic memory ability and hippocampal subfields - A longitudinal study". She had been awarded the Jack Bartlett Memorial Award in Psychology earlier this year for her dissertation proposal. Congratulations once again Kelsey!

Congrats to our new lab graduates of Spring 2020!

Undergraduate lab members Carli Fine, Courtney Anderson, Katie Karayianis, Lena Meredith, and Miguel Turcios recently graduated from the University of Maryland.

Research featured on "Brain in Action" blog

Research by Dr. Riggins and graduate students Kelsey Canada and Morgan Botdorf was recently featured on the "Brain in Action" blog. Read about it here!

NCDL part of major UMD-led study for NIH initiative to solve U.S. opioid crisis

The National Institutes of Health has undertaken an initiative with the goal of reversing the nation's opioid crisis. UMD is one of five universities that will conduct an initial 18-month study looking at fetal exposure to various opioids, as well as pregnant women who use multiple drugs. Read more about the upcoming research project on opioid abuse here.

Developmental Psychobiology's 2019 Hennessy-Smotherman Wiley Best Student Paper Award

Sarah Blankenship was selected to receive the 2019 Hennessy-Smotherman Wiley Best Student Paper Award for the journal Developmental Psychobiology. Congratulations Sarah! Read her award-winning paper here.

Congratulations to undergraduate Carli Fine, named 2019 Philip Merrill Presidential Scholar!

Carli (left) and Dr. Riggins were honored at a reception by University President Loh and Dean Ball of the College of Behavioral and Social Sciences, where Dr. Riggins was also named the Phillip Merrill Faculty Mentor of the year.

Jack Bartlett Memorial Award in Psychology

Kelsey Canada, a 5th year graduate student in UMD’s CNS Psychology program, received this year's Jack Bartlett Memorial Award in Psychology for her dissertation proposal, "Examining the co-development of episodic memory ability and hippocampal subfields - A longitudinal study". This award was established to honor the memory of Jack Bartlett by supporting graduate students in psychology and is presented to the student who has submitted the most outstanding doctoral dissertation proposal this year. Kelsey will present her dissertation work to the department in Spring 2020. Congratulations Kelsey!

Recent Conference Presentations

2022 Eastern Psychological Association
Angela Ji presented her poster on the associations between Effortful Control in temperament and the amygdala and ACC. Emily Herberholz presented her poster on the impacts of COVID-19 on memory task performance in children at the annual EPA conference in New York, NY.

International Society for Developmental Psychobiology
Morgan Botdorf presented her poster on stress impacts on the hippocampus in young children at the 52nd annual meeting of the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology in Chicago, IL.

Cognitive Development Society
Carli Fine (Left) and Tracy Riggins at the 2019 annual meeting of the Cognitive Development Society in Louisville, KY.

Carli presented the lab's research on autobiographical memory and hippocampal volumes in early childhood while Dr. Riggins presented a talk on memory consolidation during sleep and hippocampal development as part of a symposium.

Society for Neuroscience 2019
Kelsey Canada and Morgan Botdorf attended Neuroscience 2019 in Chicago, IL.

Morgan presented her research on a network analysis of memory and attention networks in the brain at a nanosymposium.

Flux: The Society for Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
(Left to right) Morgan Botdorf, Tamara Allard, Kelsey Canada, and Tracy Riggins presented posters at the 2019 meeting of The Society for Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience.

University of Maryland, Baltimore
Morgan Botdorf presented at the Maryland Neuroimaging Retreat 2019 held in Baltimore, MD. She presented information on developmental neuroscience using data collected in the Neurocognitive Development Lab using MRI.

Congratulations to our Spring 2019 graduating seniors!

Undergraduate lab members Lauren Rather, Olivia Antezana, Sarah Badawi, and Suejean Han have graduated from the University of Maryland. We're so proud of you all!

Congratulations to all of our undergraduates who presented at Psychology Research Day and Undergraduate Research Day 2019!

Read more about their research projects HERE

Congratulations to Morgan Botdorf on her graduate thesis defense!

Morgan Botdorf, a second-year graduate student in the Neurocogntive Development Lab defended her thesis, entitled "Development of the Episodic Memory Network in Early Childhood: Insights from Graph Theoretical Analysis." Congrats Morgan!

New Paper on Hippocampal Development in NeuroImage

The NCDL has just published a study in the journal NeuroImage with findings from our Kid Brain Study! We have learned a lot about children's brains and how they support memory.

We found that in younger kids, from about 4-6 years of age, a bigger hippocampus is associated with better episodic memory. But in older kids, 6-8 years of age, a smaller hippocampus is associated with better memory. This “transition” might occur because as the brain matures, the connections become more efficient. In other words, unnecessary or unused connections go away, leading to smaller (but better connected) brain structures. Interestingly, this was only true for the parts of the hippocampus that take the longest to develop and are most closely related to memory in adults.

This is exciting because this is one of the first studies to look at the relation between the hippocampus and memory development in kids as young as 4 years of age! If you're interested in reading more, see the full article here.


Congratulations to our graduating seniors!
Elizabeth Dolin, Kelly Walsh, Arcadia Ewell, and Nimra Naeem (L to R).

Liz will be attending Pace University's School-Cliical Child Psychology graduate program, Kelly received the Oustanding Accomplishments in Psychology Award and will pursue her Ed.S in School Psychology at the University of Delaware, and Arcadia will be staying with the NCDL as a full-time lab manager and research assistant! We are so glad to have had all of you in the lab!

Recent Conference Presentations

International Conference on Learning and Memory
Kelsey Canada (far left), Tracy Riggins (far right), and Morgan Botdorf (not pictured) presented talks and met up with collaborators from Temple University at the International Conference on Learning and Memory in Huntington Beach, CA.

Flux: The Society for Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
Sarah Blankenship, Morgan Botdorf, Kelsey Canada, Tracy Riggins, and Fengji Geng (not pictured) presented posters at the 2016 meeting of The Society for Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience.

Amna Zehra, Sucheta Swaminathan and Daniela Vazquez
Associations between Hippocampal Subregions and Episodic Memory in Early Childhood

PSYC Terp Research Fair and Undergraduate Research Day

Recent Awards

Undergraduate Research Assistants Sanaa Amin (L) and Carli Fine (R) won the 2018 Gold Award at the Psychology Undergraduate Research Fair, for their poster 'Relationships between autobiographical memory, social factors, and hippocampal subregion volumes.'

Kelly Walsh, an Undergraduate Research Assistant in the lab, received the 2018 Oustanding Accomplishments in Psychology Award. She will be recognized at the PSYC Commencement ceremony and will receive a certificate and a $50 award.

Graduate Student Morgan Botdorf has won a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. Congratulations to Morgan, whose research will now be supported by NSF!

Undergrauate Research Assistant Amna Zehra has won the 2016 Mark S. Harper Award for Excellence in Psychology. She will recieve a plaque at commencement ceremony and will be seated with the platform party on stage.

Graduate Student Sarah Blankenship won the Graduate Dean’s Dissertation Fellowship for academic year 2016-17. She will spend the next year devoting her full attention to research, scholarly, and creative work directly related to her dissertation.

New Article in Terp Magazine about NCDL Research

"Unreachable Memories: Psychology Researchers Study Brain Connections in Early Childhood"

An article about our Hippocampal Memory Networks project just came out in Terp magazine detailing some of our preliminary findings.

Read the article here!

Recent Publication from the NCDL

As children get older, their ability to remember the details of life events (the when, where, and why, also known as 'episodic' memory) shows striking improvement. However, neural changes related to this improvement in memory are not well understood. This is particularly true in young children from whom neural measures are difficult to collect.

To address this gap the present study examined associations between children’s episodic memory ability and volume of a brain structure known to support this type of memory in school-aged children and adults called the ‘hippocampus’. Specifically, 4- and 6-year-old children played a memory game in which they were asked to interact with toys in two different rooms. For each toy children learned a novel action associated with the toy (they either put it on their head, beat it like drum, or hugged it). Memory for the toys, their location, and the action associated with them was tested after a delay. In addition, volume of the hippocampus was measured from MRI scans by extracting the size of three subregions in this structure, referred to as the head, body, and tail.

Results revealed significant positive relations between episodic memory ability and volume of the hippocampal head for 6- but not 4-year-old children. This pattern suggests that developmental changes in the hippocampus may underlie the striking improvements in memory ability seen in young children. These findings are important because they provide evidence of developmental changes in brain-behavior relations in very young children. Ultimately, these findings may prove useful in the creation of interventions to improve learning and memory in young children in both educational and clinical settings.

Read the paper here!

Birth Announcement!

2015 Awards

Abby Hsiung and Margaret Sundel were awarded the title of UMD's Undergraduate Researchers of the Year for 2015. This honor came with an award of $1,000, a commemorative plaque and inclusion in the opening ceremonies for Undergraduate Research Day

Alison Gruber
(Outstanding PSYC Terp Award 2015)

Abby Hsiung
(Outstanding PSYC Terp Award 2015)

Pooja Patel
(Outstanding PSYC Terp Award 2015)

Jennifer Sloane
(2015 Mark S. Harper Award for Excellence in Psychology)

Agnes Varghes
(Award for Excellence in Student Leadership 2015)

Sarah Blankenship
(Phi Delta Gamma Graduate Fellowship)

2015 Posters

Pooja Patel and Amna Zahra
Influence of age and gender on hippocampal subregion volumes during childhood

2015 University of Maryland, Undergraduate Research Day

Abby Hsuing and Margaret Sundel

The effects of emotional valence and arousal on item and source memory across development
2015 Society for Research on Child Development Philadelphia, PA

Liz Mulligan
Developmental differences in relations between episodic memory and hippocampal subregion volume during early to middle childhood
2015 Cognitive Neuroscience Society San Francisco, CA