NYU PIRT Fellows Profiles

Cohort of 2014-2015


Three-Year Fellows

Sophia Hwang is a 3rd year year doctoral student in the Psychology and Social Intervention Program in the Department of Applied Psychology at NYU Steinhardt. Currently she is working with a local nonprofit organization to study how cooperative learning strategies can improve student outcomes in afterschool settings. More broadly Sophia’s research interests lie at the intersection of education and mental health. Sophia aims to conduct policy-relevant research that improves academic and social-emotional outcomes for urban students. Sophia earned her B.A. in Human Biology with a concentration in the Mental and Public Health of Underserved Communities from Stanford University and then pursued a Masters in Education at the University of Pennsylvania. Additionally, Sophia taught science at a comprehensive, public high school in South Philadelphia. Her advisor and mentor is Elise Cappella.

Andrew Ribner is a 3rd year graduate student in Developmental Psychology in the Department of Applied Psychology at NYU Steinhardt. Before starting at NYU, he received a B.A. from Wesleyan University in Educational Psychology and Learning Theory, Biology, and Psychology, and worked in the Cognitive Development Labs under Dr. Anna Shusterman. Andrew now works in the Neuroscience and Education Lab under Dr. Clancy Blair and his current research focus is on individual differences in early mathematical and numerical development across socioeconomic status, and their interplay with self regulation. His advisor and research mentor is Clancy Blair.

Menbere Shiferaw is a 4th year doctoral student at the NYU Wagner School and a Graduate Assistant at the Institute for Education and Social Policy. Her research aims to inform policy and practice to better serve special populations, in particular immigrant students and students with disabilities. She is broadly interested in understanding and promoting the educational and labor market outcomes of these students.  Prior to joining NYU she was a research assistant and labor market analyst at the Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta. Menbere received her BA in economics from the University of Georgia and MA in economics from Syracuse University. Her advisor and is Leanna Stiefel.

Gerard Torrats-Espinosa is a 3rd year PhD candidate in the Department of Sociology at NYU GSAS. Gerard’s interests include multigenerational neighborhood effects, social stratification, and social mobility. Specifically, his research focuses on the role that community violence plays as a mediating mechanism between neighborhood socio-demographic characteristics and children’s cognitive outcomes. His work will consider differences in family resources and parenting strategies that inform how children cope with neighborhood violence. Additionally, he aims to explore how individual agency allows youth to construct their own neighborhood boundaries and navigate violent environments. His interests also include social networks, Bayesian modeling, and causal inference. Gerard holds a BS in Building Engineering from Polytechnic University of Catalonia (Spain) and a Master in Public Policy from the Harvard Kennedy School. His advisor is Patrick Sharkey.