From left to right, Lauren Howard, Joshua Rottman, and Krista Casler direct the three labs of the new Development and Experience Center (DAX).
From left to right, Lauren Howard, Joshua Rottman, and Krista Casler direct the three labs of the new Development and Experience Center (DAX).

By Steven Viera || Senior Editor

This semester, the College launched the Development and Experience, or DAX, Center in order to provide a central lab for research into morality, social learning, and problem-solving. The DAX Center offers opportunities for faculty and student researchers to form connections with the Lancaster community while pursuing studies that examine the cornerstones of individual development.

At the DAX Center, Joshua Rottman, associate professor of psychology and scientific and philosophical studies of the mind (SPM), directs the Developing Moral Values Lab; Krista Casler, associate professor of psychology, directs the Child Development Lab; and Lauren Howard, associate professor of psychology and SPM, directs the Early Social Cognition Lab.

“We all study children, but we take slightly different approaches in our research and focus on different age groups,” Howard said in this article published on F&M’s news website. “A center like this is quite common at larger institutions, but significantly less so at smaller ones. It’s a unique opportunity for F&M to have this center as a resource.”

In addition to the faculty who work in the DAX Center, there are also a number of students involved in various capacities: Ashley Christopherson ’16 and Zachary Walden ’16, who are student coordinators, as well as Kristen Green ’17, Sarah Haddon ’17, Sydney Bierhoff ’18, Tess Flanagan ’18, and Taisha Pelletier ’18, all of whom are student

All research at the DAX Center focuses on studying children and is thus dependent on having volunteer child subjects, who come primarily from the Lancaster community. As a result of this need, the DAX Center facilitates greater connections with families who live in Lancaster who can help provide children for study. According to Rottman, these collaborations will enable scientists and the public to better understand the nuances of child

According to the DAX Center’s website, each project is designed with the child subjects in mind.

“During our projects, we watch to see how children behave or respond in particular situations,” the website says. “Sometimes we’re reading stories, sometimes playing with toys, sometimes
watching images on a screen. Children usually have fun playing with us; many don’t want to leave when they’re done… Participation is always 100 [percent] voluntary.”

“I’ve been bringing families into my lab for the last decade, but by joining with [Rottman] and [Howard], our three labs can offer so much more,” Casler said in the article on F&M’s news website

Beyond scientific advancements and community connections, the DAX Center researchers have another objective in mind.

“From basic office work to sophisticated research assistance, our goal is to usher students through the scientific process,” Casler said.

Senior Steven Viera is the Senior Editor. His email is