Lab Director

Nancy McElwain is professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and a part-faculty member at the Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology. Her research advances understanding of the dynamic early-life interactions between parents and children that shape children’s developing abilities to regulate stress. She adopts an interdisciplinary approach that combines neuroscience, psychophysiology, linguistics, and developmental psychology. Through investigating stress regulation during early development, she aims to promote healthy parent-child relationships and children’s long-term social and emotional well-being.

Graduate Students

Xiaomei Li is a fifth year Ph.D. student in Human Development and Family Studies. Her current research aims to explore family factors, interpersonal dynamics, and individual characteristics that might jointly shape the development of children’s self-regulation in the face of stress. To probe these questions, she is enthusiastic about combining multiple methodologies (e.g., self-report, behavioral, physiological, and neural), as well as utilizing advanced statistical models.


Yannan Hu is a fourth year Ph.D. student in Human Development and Family Studies. Her research interests focus on dynamics in real-time parent-child interactions and child regulatory processes, with a particular focus on parent and child psychobiological activities and their concordance. She is also exploring the links between mother-infant interaction and infant’s brain development.

Jialu Li is a fifth year Ph.D student in Electrical and Computer Engineering. Her research interests lie in acoustic modeling in automatic speech recognition, specifically in finding phoneme/phone inventory for under-sourced or unwritten languages. She is also exploring various speech emotion recognition methods on finding relationships between mother-infant interactions.


Gyuri Kim is a first year Ph.D. student in Human Development and Family Studies. Her research interests lie in exploring mechanisms underlying the associations between family factors and socioemotional development during childhood and adolescence. She is particularly interested in taking an interdisciplinary approach to elucidate the role of parent-child interactions in children’s psychopathology development.

Kexin Hu is a first year Ph.D. student in Human Development and Family Studies. She has just received her bachelor degree in Psychology, Beijing Normal University. She enjoys working with infants and children. Her research interests center around the dynamic parent-child interactions and its influence on child social-emotional development. She is also passionate with using interdisciplinary approaches to explore physiological and neural synchrony between parent-child dyads in daily life.


Project Coordinators

We also appreciate the tremendous efforts of our amazing undergraduate RAs!

Graduate Student Alumni

  • Jennifer Engle (HDFS), University of Tennessee at Knoxville
  • Maria Wong (Psychology), Stevenson University (Maryland)
  • Ashley Holland (Psychology), Edgewood College (Madison WI)
  • Allison Jesse (Psychology), University of St. Thomas (St. Paul, MN)
  • Ashley Groh (Psychology), University of Missouri at Columbia
  • Niyantri Ravindran (HDFS), Texas Tech University (Lubbox, TX)
  • Xi Chen (HDFS), East China Normal University