Current Research

The Child Development Lab provides opportunities for student and faculty researchers to conduct studies, pilot research protocols and/or train research assistants. Our goal is to support an innovative research community with dynamic campus, local and national partnerships to generate new knowledge and train the next generation of reserachers in developmentally appropriate research practices to advance the field of developmental science.

Completed Project: The Impact of Lighting and Background Noise on the Behaviors of Students with Sensory Sensitivities or Autism

ScholarRudy DieudonneRudy Dieudonne, PhD student, department of Design Studies, UW-Madison

Approach: Dieudonne worked with the Child Development Lab to recruit children between 3-8 years of age who are suspected to be on the ASD spectrum, have been diagnosed with ASD, or have sensory sensitivities. Within his research, he analyzed the ways in which classroom lighting and noise impact students with autism. His work draws from studies of design, child development, physiology, and more. Dieudonne worked with the Child Development Lab to monitor children’s heart rates, stress levels and behavioral reactions as he adjusted the lighting and noise levels in the classroom. As the levels increased, so did the students’ physical and physiological reactions.

Read more about Rudy Dieudonne’s project and his commitment for designing adaptable classrooms.

Get Involved with CDL Studies:
Current Research Opportunities

Investigating Children’s Peer Communicative Skills in Naturalistic and Structured tasks

Claire Bergey, a postdoctoral scholar in Psychology and part of the Social Interaction Lab, is initiating a study of children’s interactions during playtime. This is an observational study in which children’s experiences during free play are recorded using cameras attached to vests. The study aims to characterize how children learn to use language in conversation with peers. Families also have the opportunity to participate in observational recordings at home.

All CDL parents in the Otter and Bunny rooms will need to fill out consent forms opting in or opting out of the Preschool Peer Communication Study. Families who chose to participate will also fill out a demographics form.

If you have any questions related to either the Preschool Peer Communication Study or the additional Home Communication Study, please contact the Lab Manager, Yuliya Zubak, at yzubak@wisc.edu.

Principal Investigator

Robert Hawkins, is an Assistant Professor at the University of Wisconsin–Madison in the Department of Psychology and Wisconsin Institute for Discovery, where he directs the Social Interaction Lab and will be supervising the Preschool Peer Communication Study and the Home Communication Study.

To obtain further information about the study, we encourage you to watch this 10-minute informational video provided by the Research Team tailor specifically for CDL Parents.


You can find the Slide Presentation from the video HERE.

Coming Soon: Future Research Opportunities

We currently have no studies slated for the near future.


2024 Research Studies Outside of the CDL

The UW Department of Psychiatry is looking for women age 25 or older who have or do not have symptoms of PTSD and a 6-8 year old daughter to participate in a research study. Participation includes clinical interviews and questionnaires about mental health and behavior of both mother and child. If eligible, participants may be asked to participate in an MRI instead of behavioral tasks at WisPIC. Participants will receive up to $150 for completion of study visits and behavioral tasks at WisPIC, OR up to $275 for completion of study visits and the MRI session.

Please contact the Women’s Mental Health Program at 608-265-0767 or womensmentalhealth@psychiatry.wisc.edu for more information and to see if you qualify for participation.

Dr. Anne Marie Singh and the University of Wisconsin Division of Allergy, Pulmonary and Critical Care Medicine are looking for expectant parents to join the Environmental influences on Child Health Outcomes (ECHO) Study. ECHO is looking at how early life environments and experiences affect childhood development. Expectant parents who meet the following criteria may be eligible to enroll: are 18 years of age or older, are less than 20 weeks pregnant and plan to deliver in Madison, WI. For more information about ECHO or to enroll in the study: call us at (608) 228-9590, email ECHO@medicine.wisc.edu or fill out the intake questionnaire.

Ongoing Research Studies Outside of the CDL from Prior Years

Dr. Julie Poehlmann and Dr. Douglas Dean with the Healthy Brain and Child Development (HBCD) study are looking for several babies between the ages of 3-months-old and 9-months-old to come to the Waisman Center at UW-Madison for a 1-hour practice EEG session. The purpose is to practice applying the cap-like EEG net on babies of different ages as well as running the 4 EEG tasks. If interested, please email hbcd@bi.wisc.edu or call 608-265-6541.

Dr. Douglas Dean’s research lab at the Waisman Center is recruiting infants between 1-24 months with and without an older sibling with autism for a study on early brain and behavior development. For additional information about this study, please email babysibs@bi.wisc.edu or call 608-262-6706.

Dr. Martha Alibali’s Cognitive Development & Communication Lab is recruiting kindergarteners, 1st graders, and 2nd graders to participate in a study that looks at how children think and learn about patterns with shapes and numbers. To learn more or sign up for the Patterns Perceptual Support study, please email cogdevmath@psych.wisc.edu.

Dr. Susan Ellis Weismer and Dr. Jenny Saffran are looking for children to participate in research on the UW-Madison campus about how toddlers learn language. They are looking for typically developing children 18-24 months old and children with diagnosed or suspected ASD between 24 and 35 months. Complete this online sign-up to participate.

The Women’s Mental Health Program (WMHP) is led under the direction of Dr. Stowe within the Dept. of Psychiatry at UW-Madison. Dr. Stowe conducts psychological research with pregnant women, new mothers, and their children. The primary goal of WMHP is to understand the transgenerational effects maternal mental health and trauma exposure can have on the behavioral, neural, and psychological development of her child. To inquire about current research projects please email womensmentalhealth@psychiatry.wisc.edu.

UW-Madison’s Center for Healthy Minds often recruits people from all ages and backgrounds to improve well-being. If you are interested in participating in research at the Center, you can join the participant registry.

Online Research Opportunities

Online Research Studies at UW-Madison:

  • Dr. Heather Kirkorian and colleagues from Georgetown University are recruiting for a a week-long online survey study on parents’ experiences and perceptions of media. You may qualify for this project if you are 18 years or older, have at least one child who is under 2 years old (~23 months old), own a smartphone or tablet, speak and read English sufficiently, and are a U.S. citizen currently living in the U.S. Parents in this project receive up to $50 in an e-gift card. For more information, please visit our website at https://elp.georgetown.edu/portfolio/cafe-consortium/. Click here to set up a 30-minute video chat to learn more about the project or contact cafestudy@sohe.wisc.edu .
  • Lucretia Fairchild, a PhD student in Human Development & Family Studies, is offering free training for parents and caregivers of toddlers who are 12 to 48 months old. Participate online via video conferencing to learn strategies for particular aspects of promoting your child’s development, keeping your toddler safe and healthy, and having quality interaction with your toddler. The training session will take approximately 2 hours. Additionally, follow-up for 2 weeks afterward consists of a daily log, online questionnaires, and 2 phone calls with the researcher. You will receive $70 if you complete the full study. Currently, trainings for January-March are being scheduled. Email toddlerparent@sohe.wisc.edu to sign up!
  • Yi Tong, PhD student in Dr. Haley Vlach’s Learning, Cognition & Development Lab is inviting parents of Mandarin Chinese-English bilingual children ages 4-6 to participate in an online study to investigate how to better support bilingual children’s word learning across contexts. Children will be read a storybook where they learn new words, and their Mandarin Chinese and English vocabulary will also be assessed. The study will be conducted via Zoom and will take approximately 60 minutes. After completion, families will be compensated with a $20 Amazon gift card. If you are interested in participating, please use the following link to sign up (https://calendly.com/lcd-lab-virtual-study/man-eng-bilingual) or email Yi at tong33@wisc.edu.
  • Dr. Haley Vlach’s Learning, Cognition & Development Lab currently has online studies available for children ages 2 to 7 years old. For these virtual studies, your child and a parent or guardian will be invited to a video call with a researcher from the LCD Lab. The process will be similar to an in lab study. To learn more and schedule a session, please email lcd.lab@education.wisc.edu.
  • Dr. Seth Pollak’s Child Emotion Lab currently has a study for 4-year-olds on how children use words to learn about different emotions. If you’re interested in having your child participate, sign up here. Dr. Pollak’s lab is also recruiting 10- to 13-year-olds for a study about how children use reward information to make decisions, sign up here.
  • Dr. Martha Alibali’s Cognitive Development & Communication Lab is inviting children in grade 7 to participate in a study that explores how children think about data. To learn more or sign up for this Interpreting Data study, please email cogdevmath@psych.wisc.edu.

Online Research Beyond UW-Madison:

  • Children Helping Science is a website that  studies parents and children can participate in from home, from universities all around the world. Visit their website to find studies for children between 0-17 years of age, as well as studies for parents.

If you’d like to host a study at the CDL or post your research opportunities on this page, please email the CDL Teaching and Research coordinator at cdlresearch@sohe.wisc.edu.