Brianna McMillan Professor of Psychology

Brianna McMillan

Brianna McMillan is an Assistant Professor of psychology at Smith College and director of the Little Lab. Her research focuses on how cognition and context shape children’s learning, with an emphasis on understanding the natural sources of variability that shape language development. Brianna uses an interdisciplinary approach to bridge cognitive, developmental, and educational psychology to understand how we can create environments that promote school readiness for all children. Most recently, she has been examining how interactions between children and caregivers in children’s homes and schools can promote children’s cognitive development and academic success.

Anna Maffa '23
Major: Psychology and French Studies
Hometown: Lexington, MA

Anna is interested in clinical psychology and social work. She hopes to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker and serve as a counselor. Outside the lab, Anna spends her time practicing the violin, playing tennis, and spending time outdoors. She's getting ready for a year abroad in France where she will continue her studies.

Eika Overton '23
Major: Psychology
Hometown: NYC

Eika is mainly interested in psychology and translation studies particularly between Japanese and English. She plans to pursue a PsyD after graduation from Smith, with hope to one day open private practice as a family psychologist focused on language learning. Outside of academics, Eika enjoys searching for new music, playing volleyball, and exploring different types of foods.

Caitlin Senni '23
Ada Comstock
Major: Psychology
Minor: Education & Child Studies
: Brattleboro, VT

Caitlin is a single mother living in Vermont with her winsome 7-year-old daughter. She is deeply interested in cognitive development and applied developmental psychology, as well as the psychology of language. After Smith, she plans to pursue a doctorate, although if it were up to her she'd remain a student indefinitely.

Zhixin Liao '23
Major: Neuroscience and Psychology
: Beijing, China

Zhixin is interested in the neuroscience behind everything, but finds how the brain deals with language and memory particularly meaningful to understand, since she believes that they make up a huge part of who we think we are. She is planning on going to grad school after Smith, even though she is still not sure about which are of neuroscience she wants to study more about. When she has spare time, she sometimes takes naps just so she can have fun dreams. And when she does, she would keep records of them. She loves hot soups. 

Vivian Almaraz 
Major: Psychology and Statistical Data Science
: Chicago, IL

Psychological research has given Vivian the opportunity to combine her passions for health psychology and wellness, and her interest in data and statistics. Vivian has experience as a Junior McKinely Fellow working in Peter Deontaes Villiers child language development lab focusing on English and Spanish mixing in mother child interactions. Outside of the lab Vivian enjoys staying active with yoga and weight lifting, as well as reading, and finding new music.

Iliana Pliska-Bloch '23
Major: Psychology and Italian Studies
Hometown: San Francisco, CA

Iliana's interests in psychology lie in its intersection with neuroscience and health psychology. She hopes to pursue a PhD in Clinical Psychology with a focus on Neuropsychology and eventually work in a hospital or clinic setting. When not working in the lab or playing volleyball with her friends, she plans her alternate future where she owns a small farm with chickens and maybe even a few sheep.

Sarah Bradford '23
Major: Psychology and English Literature & Language
Hometown: Beaverton, OR

Sarah is interested in clinical psychology and childhood development. She aspires to obtain a PhD in clinical psychology after graduating from Smith and opening up her own clinic, focusing on children and family practice. In her free time, she enjoys writing short stories, playing her ukulele, and practice her French for her upcoming semester in Switzerland. 

Rukaiya Abdullah '23
Major: Psychology
Minor: Five College CHS minor
: Kumasi, Ghana

Rukaiya is interested in clinical psychology of African children and women, and how unaddressed mental health issues in the home and community impact the development of children. She hopes to become a clinical researcher and therapist. Outside of the lab, she enjoys kayaking on the paradise pond and taking strolls (and photos) around Smith botanic gardens. 

Lily Shannon '24J
Major: Psychology
Minor: Neuroscience
: Milton, Georgia

Lily's interests in psychology and neuroscience are quite broad because she is motivated by helping people understand the deepest parts of their psyche. She is currently interested in the developmental psychology of people with ASD/ADHD and how their individualized learning styles contribute to how their communication behaviors. After Smith, she is planning on going to graduate school, although she is still unsure whether or not she wants to pursue clinical work or research. In her free time, she enjoys painting, collecting crystals, and stargazing.

Tina Chang '25
Major: Psychology and Statistical & Data Sciences
: San Francisco, CA

I am interested in the data analysis that goes into research. Exploring the patterns hidden in big data is exciting to me. Outside of the lab, I love to dance, ice skate, and explore thrift stores.



Beth Campbell '22

Carmen Villalobos Guevara '22