March 2, 2022

Brain Science Speakers

Read more about the experts that comprise ReadyNation's Brain Science Speakers Bureau

**Scientists, researchers and health professionals in relevant fields are invited to apply to become a member of the Brain Science Speakers Bureau. Qualified individuals may apply by completing this Speaker Application Form.

Amelia Bachleda, Ph.D. | Seattle, WA

Amelia Bachleda_photo

Amelia Bachleda, Ph.D. is an Outreach and Education Specialist at the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences. I-LABS is a leading research institute devoted to understanding learning and the brain. Dr. Bachleda’s professional background bridges the gap between two distinct fields - education and neuroscience. She holds a Ph.D. in neurobiology, and as an outreach specialist, Amelia specializes in sharing the science of human in actionable formats. Since joining I-LABS in 2015, she has had the opportunity to work with thousands of community members invested in human learning, including parents, child care providers, educators and policymakers. Dr. Bachleda travels nationwide to give trainings and keynotes, as well as developing courses, online-trainings, and resources for educators.

Prior to her work at I-LABS, Dr. Bachleda earned a B.S. in neurobiology at the University of Washington and a Ph.D. in neurobiology at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Her graduate work focused on brain and sensory development. She has developed content and curriculum materials for the Smithsonian Institution in Washington, DC and is a 2019-2020 Advancing Research Impact in Society (ARIS) fellow.

Aysenil Belger, Ph.D. | Chapel Hill, NC

Professor of Psychiatry; Professor of Psychology; and Director, Psych Location: UNC Hospitals - Chapel Hill

BSSB Aysenil Belger

Dr. Aysenil Belger, PhD is Professor and the Director of Neuroimaging Research in Psychiatry, and Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Adjunct Associate Professor in the Radiology Department at Duke University and the Duke-UNC Brain Imaging and Analysis Center. Her research focuses on studies of the cortical circuits underlying attention and executive function in the human brain, as well as the breakdown in these functions in neuropsychiatric and neurodevelopment disorders such as schizophrenia and autism. Dr. Belger combines functional magnetic resonance imaging, electrophysiological scalp recording, experimental psychology and neuropsychological assessment techniques to explore the behavioral and neurophysiological dimensions of higher order executive functions. Her most recent research projects have focused on electrophysiological abnormalities in young autistic children and children, adolescents and adults at high risk for schizophrenia. Her research also examines changes in cortical circuits and their physiological properties in children and adults at high-risk for psychotic disorders.

Education and Training:

  • B.S., Psychology, Ege University, Izmir Turkey
  • M.A., Physiological Psychology, University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana
  • Ph.D., Physiological Psychology, University of Illinois in Champaign-Urbana
  • Postdoctoral Training, Yale University, School of Medicine, Department of Neurosurgery and Biophysics, Biochemistry and Biomedical Engineering

Jay E. Berkelhamer, MD, FAAP | Atlanta, GA

Brain science speaker Jay Berkelhamer

Jay E. Berkelhamer, M.D. of Atlanta, Georgia, is Emeritus Staff Pediatrician at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA), Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics at Emory, and Adjunct Professor of Pediatrics at Morehouse. A native of Tuscaloosa, Alabama, reared in Chicago, Illinois, Dr. Berkelhamer attended the University of Michigan, and trained in Pediatrics at the University of Chicago. Following residency and USPHS service in Norfolk, Virginia, he joined the University of Chicago faculty and practiced general pediatrics. After 20 years in Chicago, he became Chair of Pediatrics at the Henry Ford Health System in Detroit, Michigan. He became the first Chief Medical Officer of the newly created CHOA in 1999 and transitioned to Chief Academic Officer in 2007. In 2010, he retired from active clinical practice and administration and now devotes his time to teaching and child advocacy initiatives. He is a Past President of the American Academy of Pediatrics (2006-2007), the current treasurer of the International Pediatric Association, co-chair of the Atlanta Metropolitan United Way Health Council, board member of the Georgia Early Education Alliance for Ready Students (GEEARS), board member of the National Reach Out and Read Center and a Trustee of America’s Promise Alliance.

Susan Buttross, M.D. | Jackson, MS

Susan Buttross

Dr. Susan Buttross, a Mississippi native has over 35 years of experience as a physician and educator, specializing in Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics. After graduation from Mississippi State University, then medical school at the University of Mississippi Medical Center (UMMC), she completed her residency in pediatrics at UMMC and the University of Texas, Galveston Branch. She is a Professor of Pediatrics at UMMC and served as Chief of the Division of Child Development for 28 years and medical director of the Center for the Advancement of Youth. She presently is the Director of the Child Health and Development Project, a 5 year initiative, promoting the developmental and behavioral health of children from birth to 5 years old.

She has recently been elected as the National AAP District VII Vice-Chair, on the Developmental Behavioral Pediatric Prep Editorial Board and on the AAP Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder Task Force.

Dr. Buttross’s honors and awards include: UMMC’s Alumni of the year 2021, The Impact Award for Early Child Development 2022, UMMC’s 2019 Platinum Medallion for Excellence in Research, Mississippi State University, Social Science Research Center, 2018 Research Fellow, Mississippi National Alliance on Mental Illness 2019 Doctor of the Year, and the Coalition of Citizens with Developmental Disabilities 2017 Torch Bearer Award. She was named among America’s Best Doctors from 2010-2019 and America’s Top Pediatricians from 2005-2019.

For the last 12 years she has hosted Southern Remedy’s Relatively Speaking, a weekly radio show on family and child issues, for Mississippi Public Radio. She is married to Robert Riddell, a retired Landscape Architect and Developer and has 5 children, 11 grandchildren.

Joel M. Evans, M.D. | Stamford, CT

Joel M. Evans, M.D. of ReadyNation's Brain Science Speakers Bureau

Joel M. Evans, M.D., a board-certified OB/GYN and international physician educator, is the Founder and Director of The Center for Women’s Health, where he practices Integrative Gynecology and Functional Medicine. He is also the Chief Medical Officer of HealthPointe Solutions, which specializes in the use of Artificial Intelligence in Health Care. Dr. Evans was honored to speak at the United Nations in March 2013 on the topic of Prenatal Origins of Violence, and he serves as UN Representative and Chief Medical Advisor for OMAEP – World Organization of Prenatal Education Associations. His book on the holistic approach to pregnancy, The Whole Pregnancy Handbook (Gotham, 2005), has received widespread critical acclaim and media attention.

Dr. Evans is currently the Medical Director of the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health. He was an Assistant Clinical Professor in the Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Women’s Health at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine from 2002 to 2014. He is a Founding Diplomate of the American Board of Holistic Medicine and is recognized as the first physician in Connecticut to be Board Certified in both Integrative Medicine and Obstetrics and Gynecology. He has a special interest in Hereditary Breast and Ovarian Cancer, and as a National Speaker for both Phenogen Sciences and Myriad Genetics, brings the latest information on cancer risk assessment and prevention to his patients.

Dr. Evans serves as a peer reviewer for the journals Alternative Therapies in Health and Medicine and Global Advances in Health and Medicine and served on the editorial advisory board of Bottom Line/Women’s Health for its entire publication run. He is a member of the senior faculty of two of the most recognized and prestigious teaching institutions in integrative medicine: The Center for Mind/Body Medicine and the Institute for Functional Medicine. In 2011 he was the external lead physician in the creation of the IFM Advanced Practice Module in Hormone Health and continues to serve in that role. He is a former Director of two nationally known organizations focused on pregnancy, Childbirth Connection and the Association for Prenatal and Perinatal Psychology and Health. Dr. Evans also helped create a clinical study at Columbia University Medical Center on the use of the herb black cohosh in breast cancer, which was presented at the 2001 Annual Meeting of the American Society of Clinical Oncologists and later published in their journal. He recently co-authored (2014) a chapter in the textbook Women’s Mental Health across the Lifespan.

Having pursued studies in spirituality, metaphysics, and personal transformation for many years, Dr. Evans has recently created a core curriculum designed to share ancient spiritual wisdom with others in order to help bring health and happiness into their lives.

Michael K. Georgieff, MD | Minneapolis, MN

Professor, Division of Neonatology, University of Minnesota
Director, Center for Neurobehavioral Development
Neonatologist, Institute of Child Development

Michael K. Georgieff, MD of ReadyNation's Brain Science Speakers Bureau

Michael K. Georgieff, M.D., holds the position of Professor of Pediatrics and Child Psychology, Director of the Division of Neonatology and Executive Vice Chair of the Department of Pediatrics. He received his M.D. from Washington University in St. Louis, Missouri. He served his internship and residency at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. He followed with a residency in neonatology at the University of Pennsylvania and at the University of Minnesota.

In addition to attending on the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, Dr. Georgieff is director of the NICU Follow-up Clinic and director of the Center for Neurobehavioral Development. Dr. Georgieff’s research focuses on fetal/neonatal nutrition, specifically, the effect of fetal/neonatal iron nutrition on brain development and neurocognitive function. He has published in numerous journals, including American Journal of Physiology, Pediatric Research, Journal of Nutrition and Journal of Pediatrics. He has written and contributed to a number of book chapters and has over 200 published papers.


  • Medical School, Washington University
  • Residency, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia
  • Fellowship in Neonatology, University of Pennsylvania, University of Minnesota

Janice M. Gruendel, Ph.D. | Branford, CT

Dr. Janice M. Gruendel has nearly 20 years of experience in State of Connecticut government, serving in the administrations of five governors. She also brings nine years in the non-profit advocacy sector as co-founder and co-president of CT Voices for Children, and four years in a children’s multimedia business. For the past three years, she has worked as a consultant to communities, foundations and nonprofit entities translating the neuroscience of development with a focus on the impact of trauma and early adversity in the lives of children and their families. Most recently, she has been facilitating community impact work as well as government and community conversations using the nationally acclaimed documentary “Resilience.”

She is currently a research professor at the University of North Carolina Charlotte as well as a Senior Fellow at the Institute for Child Success and a Fellow at the Zigler Center at Yale University. Working with the Institute for Child Success and the North Carolina Early Childhood Foundation, she served as the senior author on a large project to identify evidence-based policy, practice and programs – across 12 indicators – that promote third-grade reading proficiency. These working papers were released in August 2017 and are freely available online. In addition, she is widely published and has written for the American Public Human Services Association, the Institute for Child Success and the Center for the Study of Social Policy.

Gruendel has extensive experience in policy, fiscal and data analysis, strategic planning, program management and assessment, research, early childhood data systems development, and community planning. At the state agency level, she served at the deputy commissioner level in the CT Departments of Children and Families, Public Health, Corrections, and Developmental Services. She also served as senior early childhood advisor for former Connecticut governor M. Jodi Rell and as as co-chair of the Connecticut Early Education Cabinet and a member of the Governor’s Early Childhood Research and Policy Council.

Dr. Gruendel received her Ph.D. from Yale University in Developmental Psychology, and she holds a Masters Degree in Educational Psychology from the Rutgers University Graduate School of Education. Her B.A. degree in Sociology was awarded by the University of Maryland, magna cum laude. She is a member of Phi Beta Kappa. Gruendel is married to a recently retired Appellate Court judge. They have three sons and six grandchildren. Two of her sons and one daughter-in-law served in the United States military, and Gruendel maintains an active interest in how state systems can better support military families.

Jamie Hanson, Ph.D. | Pittsburgh, PA

Jamie Hanson

Jamie Hanson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he combined information from the fields of child development, biology, education, and clinical psychology. After finishing his degree in Wisconsin, Jamie received additional postdoctoral training at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He is interested in understanding how children and adolescents learn about their environment, how the brain circuitry involved with learning may be impacted by stressful experiences, and how these brain changes may confer risks for negative outcomes.

Jamie’s interest in learning was in no small part inspired by his mother, Helen Hanson. Helen was a Philadelphia public school teacher for over 40 years, working primarily with special education students in low-income communities. Dr. Hanson’s primary goal is to increase knowledge about the neurobiological effects of early life stress, with that hope that such information could aid in predicting and preventing stress-related, negative outcomes in education and mental health.

Brenna Hassinger-Das, Ph.D. | New York City, NY

Brenna Hassinger-Das, Ph.D. of ReadyNation's Brain Science Speakers Bureau

Dr. Hassinger-Das is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Pace University. Her research examines children’s play and learning in home, school, and community contexts, particularly for children from economically disadvantaged backgrounds. Her areas of expertise encompass executive functioning, early number sense, and vocabulary acquisition. She is particularly interested in investigating the role of play and games for learning. She is committed to translating her research for use by the public through community-based research projects as well as blog posts and commentaries featured in outlets such as The Huffington Post, WHYY, and as well as additional outlets.

Sloka S. Iyengar, Ph.D. | New York City, NY

Sloka S. Iyengar, Ph.D. of ReadyNation's Brain Science Speakers Bureau

Sloka Iyengar Ph.D., PMP is a neuroscientist and has investigated mechanisms that cause neurons to generate and sustain spontaneous seizures. Sloka is also a science writer and contributes regularly to websites to make neuroscience research more accessible to non-scientists. More broadly, her passions lie in the power of science to change the world for its most vulnerable populations, and the importance of communication to affect that change. She collaborates with organizations in India and the US in the areas of patient advocacy and communication, dementia, palliative care, harm reduction in substance abuse disorders, and post-traumatic epilepsies. Sloka is also a professional dancer and loves to swim. You can find more about her here!

Laura Jana, MD | Omaha, NE

Dr. Laura Jana of ReadyNation's Brain Science Speakers Bureau

Pediatrician, nationally-acclaimed author, educator and health communicator, Dr. Laura Jana finds connections across disciplines and crystallizes big ideas into far-reaching, real world applications.

In her current role as Associate Research Professor at Penn State Prevention Research Center, as well as consultant to numerous academic, government, nonprofit, and corporate clients, Dr. Jana is committed to and has become highly skilled at navigating the traditionally siloed worlds of academia, medicine, publishing, and commerce. What she’s seen is a bevy of great minds circling the same topics from different angles. As a translator of ideas and facilitator of dialogue, she’s on a mission to change the public conversation about both the skills and the strategies needed for success in the Digital Age.

Having first received a BS Degree in Cellular-Molecular Biology, Dr. Jana earned her MD from Case Western Reserve University and completed her pediatric residency at UCSF and Rainbow Babies & Children’s Hospital. After several years in private pediatric practice, she co-founded The Dr. Spock Company – one of the first online health sites – in the late 1990’s, and subsequently her own company – Practical Parenting Consulting, which has since become Jana Ventures, LLC and broadened its scope. She most recently served two years as Director of Innovation at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health.

Dr. Jana is nationally recognized for her more than two decades worth of ongoing efforts to promote healthy lifestyles for children and practical parenting advice to new and expectant parents. Currently a contributing blogger for US News and World Report, she has appeared on The Today Show, CNN, NPR, Good Morning America, ABC News, NBC News and Fox News and has been quoted extensively in outlets such as Time, People, WebMD, Parents magazine, The New York Times and USA Today. Dr. Jana serves as a media spokesperson for the American Academy of Pediatrics, and has served on their national Executive Committee for Early Education and Child Care.

Increasingly, Dr. Jana has been dedicated to innovatively addressing the earliest and most urgent needs of children locally, nationally, and globally – especially those living in poverty. Dr. Jana is particularly focused on collective impact, technology-driven innovations in health and education, social impact finance, and fostering cross-collaborations to improve the well-being of children, families and communities. She serves as a strategic consultant for and collaborates with such entities as the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, ReadyNation, the All Children Thrive Network, and MIT Media Lab’s Emerging Worlds initiatives.

Dr. Jana served as founder and 9-year owner/operator of Primrose School of Legacy – a premier 200-student educational child care center in Omaha and was the recipient of a 40 Under 40 Business Award. She has authored six books, including her latest titles, The Toddler Brain: Nurture the Skills Today That Will Shape Your Child’s Tomorrow (DaCapo, Feb 2017), and a companion children’s book, Jumping into Kindergarten (NCYI, July 2017). Previous titles include two award-winning parenting books published by the American Academy of Pediatrics - Heading Home with Your Newborn: From Birth to Reality and Food Fights, as well as three children’s books - It’s You and Me Against the Pee; Melvin the Magnificent Molar (NCYI) and Amazing Me: It’s Busy Being Three (for the CDC’s Learn the Signs. Act Early campaign). She is also well recognized for her many years as parenting expert for Omaha’s NBC affiliate, WOWT-6, the Omaha World Herald, and Omaha’s top-rated drive-time morning talk radio program, as well as her involvement in the community.

Honorarium appreciated/negotiable.

Marley Jarvis, Ph.D. | Arcata, CA

Marley Jarvis headshot

Marley Jarvis, Ph.D., is an Outreach and Education Specialist at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) at the University of Washington. In this role, Dr. Jarvis communicates the latest research in early learning and brain development to members of the early learning community, including parents, child care providers, educators, and policymakers. She regularly supports educators in applying research findings to their work. Dr. Jarvis holds a B.A. in Biology and Environment and Technology Studies from Carleton College and a Ph.D. in Biology from the University of Oregon. Previously, Dr. Jarvis specialized in informal STEM learning and public engagement with science at Pacific Science Center through the Portal to the Public initiative and is a former Adjunct Professor in Biology at the University of Oregon. She has a long-standing interest in how people learn throughout their lives.

Kaja Jasinska, Ph.D. | Philadelphia, PA

Brain Science Speaker Kaja Jasinska
  • Assistant Professor in the Linguistics and Cognitive Science Department at the University of Delaware, and Research Scientist at Haskins Laboratories.

  • Post-Doctoral Research Fellowship at Haskins Laboratories affiliated with Yale University working with Dr. Nicole Landi and Dr. Ken Pugh.

Research Interests
I am fundamentally interested in the neural mechanisms that support language (monolingual or bilingual, signed or spoken), reading and cognitive development across the lifespan.  My research asks questions such as how does early life experience change the brain’s capacity for language and learning?  I use MRI and functional Near Infrared Spectroscopy (fNIRS) neuroimaging technology in combination with genetic and behavioral analyses to gain new insights into the biological underpinnings of language, reading, and human cognition.

My research also develops novel data analysis approaches to functional neuroimaging data.  My work uses combinations of multivariate statistics and modeling to quantify developmental changes among interacting brain systems that give rise to language and higher cognitive functions.


  • PhD in Psychology and Neuroscience, University of Toronto (Advisor: Dr. Laura-Ann Petitto)

  • Research internship with National Science Foundation Science of Learning Center - Visual Language and Visual Learning Center (VL2) - Brain and Language Laboratory (BL2) at Gallaudet University in Washington, D.C.

  • MA in Linguistics, University of Western Ontario

  • BSc in Biology, University of Toronto

Sarah Lytle, Ph.D. | Philadelphia, PA

Brain Science Speaker Sarah Lytle

Sarah Lytle, Ph.D., is the Executive Director of the Playful Learning Landscapes Action Network (PLLAN). She comes to PLLAN after a decade at the University of Washington’s Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences, where she was most recently the Director of Outreach and Education.

Sarah is an expert in child development and has conducted research on language development and children’s interactions with screen media. She has more than a decade of experience in connecting science to practice, working extensively with parents, early learning providers, and policymakers to promote evidence-based interactions with children.

Sarah has a B.A. in Psychology and Spanish from the University of Notre Dame and a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Temple University. She was a 2014-2016 Zero To Three Fellow, a 2016-2019 member of the Children and Youth Advisory Board in King County, WA, and she has served on the Seattle Educare Advisory Council and Woodland Park Zoo’s Early Childhood Advisory Committee.  

Susan Magsamen | Baltimore, MD

Susan Magsamen

Susan Magsamen is the founder and executive director of the International Arts + Mind Lab (IAM Lab), Center for Applied Neuroaesthetics, a pioneering neuroaesthetics initiative from the Pedersen Brain Science Institute at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Susan’s work focuses on how the arts and aesthetic experiences measurably change the brain, body and behavior and how this knowledge can be translated to inform health, wellbeing and learning programs in medicine, public health and education.

She is also the author of the Impact Thinking, an interdisciplinary translational research model to enhance human potential through the use of arts and aesthetics. This model is a generative framework that applies a new scientific method to arts and aesthetics research and, at the same time, considers how the research can be scaled, disseminated and evaluated for impact. In addition to her role at IAM Lab, she is the co-director of the NeuroArts Blueprint project in partnership with the Aspen Institute. The Blueprint aims to create the field of Neuroarts where arts and aesthetics are mainstream in medicine and public health. Magsamen is also the co-author of the New York Times Bestseller, Your Brain on Art: How the Arts Transform Us written for the general public.  

Terri McFadden, MD, FAAP | Atlanta, GA

Terri McFadden

Terri McFadden, MD, FAAP, is a Professor of Pediatrics at Emory University School of Medicine where she serves as an Attending Physician in the Primary Care Center at Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta (CHOA) at Hughes Spalding. Dr. McFadden also provides direction for the Clinical Initiatives at PARTNERS for Equity in Child and Adolescent Health which is also in the Department of Pediatrics at Emory University. The purpose of the PARTNERS is to increase access to health care and to improve the health outcomes for at-risk children and adolescents in the state of Georgia.

Dr. McFadden received her Medical Degree from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD and completed her Pediatrics Residency at Emory University School of Medicine. As previous Medical Director for Primary Care at CHOA Hughes Spalding, she worked to improve access for underserved children in the metro Atlanta area for over 25 years, while at the same time providing a robust learning environment for medical students and pediatric residents.

Dr. McFadden has been an advocate for children throughout her career. She currently serves at Medical Director for Reach Out and Read Georgia, an early childhood literacy and parent engagement program which serves over 100,000 children in Georgia annually. She is also a breastfeeding proponent and has traveled throughout the region providing training and support for hospitals and communities in their efforts to support breastfeeding moms and babies.

Over the years, Dr. McFadden’s advocacy has extended beyond Atlanta as she has worked for children in Georgia and throughout the nation. She has served on the Board of Directors for the Georgia Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and has also served as Co-Chair of the Committee on Early Brain Development and Early Learning. She is also Immediate Past President of the Georgia Chapter. Dr. McFadden has previously served on the national AAP’s Executive Committee of the Council on Early Childhood. This Committee has been responsible for shaping AAP policy on a number of issues related to early childhood, including Early Literacy and School Readiness. She is currently a member of the Executive Committee of the Council on Injury, Violence, and Poison Prevention.

Dr. McFadden is active on several boards including the Georgia Board for Physician Workforce (current chair), the Project Healthy Grandparents Advisory Board, and the Reach Out and Read National Board. Her advocacy and research interests include improving access to care for the underserved, health equity, early literacy and health literacy medical education, breastfeeding promotion/support, and childhood injury prevention.

Catherine Monk, Ph.D | New York City, NY

Catherine Monk, Ph.D. of ReadyNation's Brain Science Speakers Bureau

Dr. Catherine Monk is Associate Professor in the Departments of Psychiatry and Obstetrics and Gynecology at Columbia University, where she is also Director of Research at the Women’s Program. Dr. Monk earned her PhD in clinical psychology at the City University of New York and completed a NIMH postdoctoral fellowship in the Psychobiological Sciences. She spends the majority of her time doing research and also sees patients experiencing perinatal depression, anxiety, or other emotional challenges related to pregnancy and parenting.

Dr. Monk’s research focuses on the earliest influences on a child’s development, those that happen in utero, and the potential for early prevention of mental health problems. Her work concentrates on the intersection of perinatal psychiatry, developmental neuroscience, and developmental psychobiology. Several of these projects are funded by the National Institute of Mental Health.

She has received many professional awards including the Scholar Award from the American Psychosomatic Society, the Scientist Research Award from the Sackler Institute, and the Klerman Honorable Mention for Outstanding Research from the National Alliance for Research on Schizophrenia and Depression.

Dr. Monk’s research has been published in many top tier science journals including Biological Psychiatry, the American Journal of Psychiatry, Journal of Child Psychiatry and Psychology, Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Infant Mental Health Journal, Archives of Women’s Mental Health, and Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology. She has also contributed chapters to books including The Oxford Handbook of Perinatal Psychology. Her work has been featured in many mainstream news outlets such as Time Magazine and The Washington Post.

Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, M.D. | Madison, WI

Dr. Dipesh Navsaria, Brain Science Speakers Bureau

Dipesh Navsaria, MPH, MSLIS, MD is a pediatrician working in the public interest. He blends the roles of physician, occasional children’s librarian, educator, public health professional and child health advocate. With graduate degrees in public health, children’s librarianship, physician assistant studies, and medicine, he brings a unique combination of interests and experience together.

He is an associate professor of pediatrics at the School of Medicine and Public Health, and a clinical associate professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the School of Human Ecology, both at the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He has practiced primary care pediatrics in a variety of settings with special interest in underserved populations, and continues to practice in outpatient settings. He also works regionally and nationally with Reach Out and Read, as well as the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Committed to understanding how basic science can translate into busy primary-care settings via population health concepts and policy initiatives — and also be incorporated into transdisciplinary approaches across multiple sectors and schools of thought — Dr Navsaria aims to educate the next generation of those who work with children and families in realizing how their professional roles include being involved in larger concepts of social policy and how they may affect the cognitive and socioemotional development of children for their future benefit. The various ways in which we can influence the environment around children and families — from the very micro to the most macro — to ensure they can flourish and thrive is at the heart of what he does.

Soojin Oh Park, Ph.D. | Seattle, WA

Soojin Oh Park, Ed.D. of ReadyNation's Brain Science Speakers Bureau

Soojin Oh Park is an assistant professor in Early Childhood and Family Studies at the University of Washington (UW) College of Education. She is a core faculty member of the Learning Sciences and Human Development and the Education, Equity, and Society programs, and an affiliate faculty of the West Coast Poverty Center.

Her work seeks to advance educational policy and practice that address issues of racial and socioecnomic equity in early learning opportunities for children from low-income, immigrant, and nondominant communities. Dr. Park studies the effects of early childhood programs and public policies on children’s development. Her work is centered on improving the process features of quality in early learning environments that promote cognitive and language skills, and examining how these mechanisms of program impact differ for children from diverse socioeconomic, linguistic, and cultural backgrounds. She draws on theories and methods from psychology, sociology, and public policy to refine understanding of “active ingredients” for early learning and development—the nature and quality of the relationships children have with their parents and other important people in their lives.

Early childhood quality improvement efforts often include attention to classrooms but much less on the role of families and communities. Jointly funded by the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (# 90YR0049/02) and the Julius B. Richmond Fellowship from the Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University, she conducted a secondary analysis of a large-scale randomized study of Head Start of a nationally representative sample of preschool children. To this work, she examined parental investment in early learning and family routines as mechanisms for explaining program impacts on children’s learning. An interesting finding from this study was the larger impact of Head Start for Latino parents of Spanish-speaking DLLs, and the mediation effects of program on vocabulary and reading differed by children’s language status.

Applying her work to global contexts, she collaborated with Hirokazu Yoshikawa, the Yale Child Study Center, and UNICEF to conduct a process evaluation of the implementation of a multisectoral early childhood policy in Cambodia, and co-authored a policy brief on the systemic challenges to expanding access and improving quality in early care and education, at scale. Policy recommendations from this brief was incorporated in the Royal Government of Cambodia’s inaugural National Action Plan on Early Child Care and Development.

During her tenure on the Editorial Board for the Harvard Educational Review, she has chaired a special issue, Immigration, Youth and Education (Fall, 2011) and co-edited a book, Education for a Multicultural Society (2011). Exploring the intersection of developmental psychology and public policy, she co-authored chapters for the volumes Handbook of Early Childhood Development Programs, Practices, and Policies (Wiley, 2016), The Impact of Immigration on Children’s Development (Karger, 2012), and Handbook of Early Literacy Research (Guilford, 2010).

Prior to her faculty appointment at UW, Dr. Park completed a summer research fellowship at the National Research Center on Hispanic Children and Families. She holds a BA and a M.S.Ed. from the University of Pennsylvania, an Ed.M. and an Ed.D. from Harvard University.


  • Ed.D., Human Development and Education, Harvard University, Graduate School of Education
  • M.Ed., Educational Policy and Management, Harvard University, Graduate School of Education
  • M.S.Ed., Early Elementary Education with Pennsylvania State Grades PreK-4 Teacher Certification, University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education
  • B.A., Psychology, University of Pennsylvania

Mary Sciaraffa, Ph.D. | Richmond, KY

Brain science speaker Mary Sciaraffa

Dr. Mary Sciaraffa is an Associate Professor in Child and Family Studies at Eastern Kentucky University. She holds a Master’s Degree in Human Development & Family Studies from Texas Tech University and a Doctorate degree in Curriculum & Instruction from Louisiana State University. Additionally, she is a Certified Family Life Educator and an Adverse Childhood Experiences, Interface, Master Trainer. She has worked in several different capacities, which have allowed her to work with both young children and adults. It has always been her professional goal to offer adult students a quality education and thus improve the quality of life for individuals and families. She has presented within a variety of venues with a variety of audiences and have been published in peer-reviewed professional journals, text books, and practitioner’s books.

Bob Sornson, Ph.D. | Detroit, MI

Brain Science Speaker Bob Sornson

Bob Sornson, Ph.D. is an award-winning author and international consultant, and is the founder of the Early Learning Foundation. He works internationally with parent organizations, school districts, and universities. His many books include The Juice Box Bully, Stand in My Shoes, Creating Classrooms Where Teachers Love to Teach, Meeting the Challenge: Using Love and Logic to Help Children Develop Attention and Behavior Skills, Over-Tested and Under-Prepared: Using Competency Based Learning to Transform Our Schools, Essential Math Skills, Stand in My Shoes: Kids Learning about Empathy, The PreK-3 Essential Skill Inventories, and many other books. Bob is a national leader calling for programs and practices which support early learning success, competency based learning, and parent engagement. Dr. Sornson’s workshops and keynote presentations are known for his storytelling, interactive style, and calls to action. He can be contacted at

Dana L. Suskind, M.D. | Chicago, IL

Brain Science Speaker Dr. Dana Suskind

Dana Suskind, MD, author of Thirty Million Words: Building A Child’s Brain, (Dutton, September 2015), is Co-Director of the TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health, Professor of Surgery at the University of Chicago, Director of the Pediatric Cochlear Implant Program, and Founder and Director of the Thirty Million Words Initiative. Based on scientific research that shows the critical importance of early language exposure on the developing child, Thirty Million Words helps parents, caregivers and practitioners harness the power of their language to build children’s brains and shape their futures. In the 7 years since its inception, TMW has reached over 3000 families in Chicago alone, with many more cities and municipalities requesting to launch TMW’s suite of interventions community-wide. This widespread interest led Dr. Suskind to partner with Dr. John List, Chair of the Economics Department at the University of Chicago, to establish the TMW Center for Early Learning + Public Health. The TMW Center aspires to create a population-level shift in knowledge and behavior of parents and caregivers to optimize the foundational brain development in children, birth to five years of age, particularly those born into poverty. Dr. Suskind’s ultimate goal, and that of her dedicated team, is to help all children reach their full potentials and to close the ever-widening achievement gap.

Ross Thompson, Ph.D. | Davis, CA

Brain Science Speaker

Ross A. Thompson is Distinguished Professor of Psychology at the University of California, Davis, where he directs the Social and Emotional Development Lab. Thompson is an internationally-recognized authority on the psychological development of young children, parent-child relationships, and the applications of developmental science to public policy problems such as early childhood mental health, child poverty, early education, and the development of school readiness. His work integrates understanding of the developing brain with early experiences in both typical and at-risk children, and he consults extensively to legislative committees, public agencies, and private foundations. He has published five books, several best-selling textbooks, and over 250 papers related to his work. Thompson is President of the Board of Directors of ZERO TO THREE, a national nonprofit devoted to the healthy development of young children and their families. He is on the Executive Committee of the Center for Poverty Research at the University of California, serves on the boards of the National Institute for Early Education Research and the Buffett Early Childhood Institute, and was a founding member of the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child. He received the Ann Brown Award for Excellence in Developmental Research in 2007, the University of California, Davis Distinguished Scholarly Public Service Award in 2011, and the Urie Bronfenbrenner Award for Lifetime Contribution to Developmental Psychology in the Service of Science and Society from the American Psychological Association in 2017.

Elizabeth Zack, Ph.D. | Denver, CO

Elizabeth Zack_Photo

Elizabeth Zack is an Outreach and Education Specialist at the Institute for Learning & Brain Sciences (I-LABS) at the University of Washington. In her role, she delivers accessible information about the latest research in child development to members of the early learning community, including parents, child care providers, and educators. Dr. Zack has shared scientific research at conferences, community events, and workshops across the country. She also serves as the project manager and a content developer for I-LABS online library of free training modules, which take an in-depth look at different topics of child development.

Dr. Zack was previously a Postdoctoral Fellow at I-LABS working under the supervision of Dr. Andrew Meltzoff. She earned a B.A. in Psychology from Gettysburg College and a Ph.D. in Developmental Science from Georgetown University. Before joining I-LABS Outreach and Education division, she conducted research on infant imitation from television and touch screens and parent-child interactions during screen media use.

Jennifer M. Zosh, Ph.D. | Media, PA

Jennifer Zosh, Ph.D of ReadyNation's Speakers Bureau

Jennifer M. Zosh, Ph.D., is a Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State University’s Brandywine campus. As the director of the Brandywine Child Development Lab, she studies how infants and young children learn about the world around them. Her areas of expertise and publication include playful learning, the impact of technology on children, working memory, mathematical cognition, and language acquisition. Notably, she was a co-lead author on a 2015 publication in Psychological Science in the Public Interest about putting education back in educational apps through the application of research in the science of how children learn. She is also the first author on the Lego Foundation’s white paper on Learning through Play. She regularly presents at professional meetings including: the Society for Research in Child Development, International Congress on Infant Studies, National Academy of Sciences Children and Screens colloquium, International Mind Brain and Education Society, and others.

A major driving force in her career is dissemination and translation of scientific discoveries to the public via blogging, consulting, and media appearances. This translational work has appeared on The Conversation, PBS Parents, The Huffington Post, the Brookings Institution, the Joan Ganz Cooney Center, NPR Radio Times, Fox29 news, and beyond. She also uses her scientific knowledge on advisory boards for organizations dedicated to supporting children and families (e.g., Playful Learning Landscapes Action Network). She loves sharing the science and wonder of child development inside and outside of the classroom and has won the Distinguished Teacher Award twice at Brandywine and also the University-wide George W. Atherton Award for Excellence in Teaching.

She received her Ph.D. in Psychological and Brain Sciences from Johns Hopkins University.

Recent Publications

  • Zosh, J.M, Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R.M., & Dore, R.A. (2017). Where learning meets creativity: The promise of guided play. In. R. Beghetto & B. Sriraman (Eds.). Creative contradictions in education: Cross disciplinary paradoxes and perspectives (pp. 165- 180). New York, NY: Springer International Publishing.

  • Zosh, J.M., Hirsh-Pasek, K., Golinkoff, R.M., & Parish-Morris, J. (2016). Learning in the digital age: Putting education back in educational apps for young children. In Encyclopedia on Early Childhood Development.
  • Zosh, J. M., Hassinger-Das, B., Toub, T. S., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Golinkoff, R. (2016). Playing with mathematics: How play supports learning and the Common Core state standards. Journal of Mathematics Education at Teachers College, 7, 45–49.

  • Zosh, J.M., Verdine, B., Fillipowitz, A. Golinkoff, R.M., Hirsh-Pasek, K., & Newcombe, N. (2015). Talking shape: Parental language with electronic vs. traditional shape sorters. Mind, Brain, and Education, 9, 136-144.

  • Hirsh-Pasek, K., Zosh, J.M. (*joint first authors), Golinkoff, R., Gray, J., Robb, M., & Kaufman, J. (2015). Putting education in “educational” apps: Lessons from the Science of Learning. Psychological Science in the Public Interest, 16, 3-34.

  • Zosh, J.M. & Feigenson, L. (2015). Array heterogeneity prevents catastrophic forgetting in infants. Cognition, 136, 365-380.

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