Psychology and Social Intervention


Our program prepares students for diverse roles in academia and social research. In the academic arena, our students are well-positioned for jobs in schools of psychology, human development, education, public health and public policy. In the area of social research, students are prepared to obtain positions in research, advocacy, and social service organizations. Indeed, there is increasing demand for evidenced-based strategies in health, education, and social service organizations and our students will be well-positioned to contribute to the design and implementation of such strategies.

Recent Graduates

Stacey Alicea, Ph.D. (2015)
 is currently the Director of Ramapo Training at Ramapo for Children.  She also holds an MPH in Population and Family Health from Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health. Before starting her doctoral degree, Stacey coordinated and directed a variety of federally- and foundation-funded intervention and service research projects through her work at Mount Sinai School of Medicine and the HIV Center at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, Columbia University. These projects used community collaborative approaches to develop and evaluate interventions targeting promotion of adolescents’ health, education, and development across multiple domestic and international urban contexts (e.g., families, clinics, schools, and communities). More recently, as part of her doctoral studies, Stacey has expanded her research to include strength-based approaches to adolescent development and emergent adulthood in high school and community college settings. This work has three primary foci: (1) the study of social networks in community college settings as conduits for youth social capital accrual and positive educational, employment, and psychosocial outcomes, (2) the development of rigorous and reliable classroom-level measurement tools for community college settings, and (3) the application of this work to intervention and policy targeting social capital accrual and life skills development in secondary and higher education settings. She has published in Developmental Psychology, Journal of Early Adolescence, Journal of Adolescent Health, Journal of Human Behavior in the Social Environment, Clinical Social Work Journal, AIDS Care, and Vulnerable Children and Youth Studies: An International Interdisciplinary Journal for Research, Policy, and Care. As she moves forward with her career, she is particularly interested in further unifying her public health and education-based research interests to design and implement interventions that shape youths’ holistic development in context.  

Maia Connors, Ph.D. (2016)
is Senior Research Associate, Research & Policy Initiatives at the Ounce of Prevention Fund. In this role, Maia acts as a liaison between research, policy, and practice within the organization, analyzing and translating evaluation and research data to inform practice and policy improvements across a variety of initiatives. Her work focuses on early care and education policy, large-scale systems' support of high-quality early education and teachers' professional growth, and adults' support of young children's development. Maia received her A.B. in Sociology and Education Studies from Brown University. After graduating, she worked as a Research Assistant at WestEd, a non-profit education research organization, designing and implementing programs and resources to support high-quality preschool throughout California. At NYU, Maia collaborated with researchers at NYU, Harvard, and MDRC as part of the Secondary Analysis of Variation in Impacts of Head Start (SAVI) Center; consulted on early childhood school accountability standards at the New York City Department of Education; and managed the Strengthening the Research Architecture for Universal PreK project designed to help New York City take the pulse of its landmark Preschool for All (PFA) Initiative.


Nia Gordon, PhD (2016) is a Research Associate at Harder + Company Community Research (, based in San Diego, CA. In this role, Nia helps nonprofits, public agencies, and foundations pursue their missions and address pressing social issues by providing them with high-quality research and strategy consulting. Her work spans several domains, from child welfare, to public health, to workforce development. Before coming to NYU, Nia received her B.S. in Psychology and Education from the University of Florida. After graduating, she served as an AmeriCorps VISTA Volunteer developing programs to support the health of low-income children throughout New York City. While at NYU, Nia worked to optimize federal, state, and city programs and policies that provide critical supports to high-risk children and families both locally and internationally. She worked closely with researchers and policy makers in the New York City Government and across South Africa to attain these goals. View Nia's resume.


Jessica Harding, Ph.D. (2016) is currently working as a Human Services Researcher at Mathematica Policy Research. Before coming to NYU, Jessica received her BA in psychology from the University of Auckland in New Zealand. Most broadly, Jessica’s research examines how early childhood education and family support programs can support low-income children’s development. Her primary interest is in policies and programs that support at-risk families to promote their children’s school readiness, including through increasing parents’ income, employment and education, their parenting skills, or their engagement with their children’s education. Her research takes three main forms. First, she conducts rigorous secondary data analysis to understand how factors such as parenting practices and maternal education influence young children’s development. Second, she designs and manages intervention research. For instance, in her final year at NYU, she was the Project Director for the Smart Beginnings Trial - a randomized control trial that uses the pediatric primary care platform to provide parent skill training to parents of infants in NYC and Pittsburgh. Third, she conducts implementation evaluations. For example, while at NYU she evaluated a pilot two-generation program that aims to provide educational services to low-income parents of children enrolled in early childhood education services at the Educational Alliance.  View Jessica's CV.


Meghan McCormick, Ph.D. (2015) is currently working at MDRC as a Research Associate II, in the Families & Children Policy Area. Originally from New Jersey, Meghan received her A.B. in public and international affairs from Princeton University in 2007. After graduating, she spent three years as a research assistant at MDRC, a non-profit social policy research organization, working to implement and evaluate a large-scale randomized trial of a relationship education intervention. Using rigorous quantitative methods, Meghan's research examines how interpersonal relationships and social processes influence students' academic and socio-emotional development. Her dissertation, entitled “Insights into Social-Emotional Learning and Achievement: An Approach for Strengthening Causal Inference,” uses a range of rigorous methods to evaluate mechanisms and heterogeneity of impacts of the INSIGHTS into Children’s Temperament intervention. In addition to working as the data manager and co-investigator on the INSIGHTS project, Meghan works with Dr. Elise Cappella on the Friend project, using social network analysis to understand the role of peer relationships in classrooms and schools and with Dr. Erin O’Connor on a project examining effects of attachment relationships on student achievement in middle childhood and early adolescence. She has been awarded an Institute of Education Sciences Predoctoral Interdisciplinary Research Training Fellowship, a 2014 American Psychological Foundation Koppitz Fellowship, and a 2014 - 2015 NAEd/Spencer Dissertation Fellowship. 


Dana Charles McCoy, Ph.D. (2013) is an Assistant Professor at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dana's work focuses on understanding the ways that poverty-related risk factors in children's home, school, and neighborhood environments affect the development of their cognitive and socioemotional skills in early childhood. She is also interested in the development, refinement, and evaluation of early intervention programs designed to promote positive development and resilience in young children, particularly in terms of their self-regulation and executive function. Dana's work is centered in both domestic and international contexts, including urban Chicago, peri-urban Ghana, and rural Tanzania. She has a particular interest in interdisciplinary theory, causal methodology, and ecologically valid measurement.


Sharon Wolf, Ph.D. (2014) is a Research Scientist at the Global TIES Institute at NYU. After graduating from the PSI program, Sharon was working as a National Poverty Fellows Program. The fellowship is a new federal government-university partnership that seeks to build the capacity of researchers to conduct high-quality policy-relevant research on poverty and inequality in the United States and to contribute to the effective use of research and scientific knowledge in the formation of public policy. Supported by the Institute for Research on Poverty (IRP) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison, fellows are in residence in the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) within the Department of Health and Human Services, or the Office of Planning, Research and Evaluation (OPRE) within the Administration for Children and Families (ACF). Fellows conduct poverty-related research and analysis, contributing to planning and overseeing poverty-related research and evaluation studies.  In addition, fellows receive academic mentorship from senior IRP affiliates and researchers, participate in IRP conferences, and give talks at IRP's weekly seminar series.


Leslie Williams, Ph.D. (2014) is currently working at National Development and Research Institutes, Inc. (NDRI)as a Principal Research Associate at the Institute for Infectious Disease Research. In that capacity, Leslie is working on two closely related research projects under the mentorship of internationally renowned drug use and HIV researcher Dr. Samuel Friedman, who is a PI on both projects. The first project, Community Vulnerability and Responses to Drug-User-Related HIV/AIDS (CVAR), is an ongoing project that has been funded continuously by NIDA since 2000. This project comprises the only team that has ever produced (and continues to produce) estimates of both the population prevalence of injection drug use and population prevalence of HIV infection among injection drug users (IDUs) in the U.S., a) nationally, b) for each of the 96 largest metropolitan statistical areas (MSAs) (as identified using 1992 population data), and c) for population subgroups defined by race/ethnicity, sex, and age. The second research project on at NDRI is Metropolitan Trajectories of HIV Epidemics, Drug Use, and Responses in U.S. Key Populations (MetroEpi). This project, which recently received funding from NIDA, reflects an expansion and extension of the goals of CVAR, and is the first (and currently the only) research project in the U.S. which aims to create a new paradigm in HIV research by moving away from the current siloed approach which has focused on only one key population (KP) affected by HIV/AIDS at a time, and by instead looking holistically at relationships among HIV epidemics for multiple KPs as they relate to one another. The MetroEpi project will examine HIV epidemics among three KPs (IDUs, men who have sex with men (MSM), and heterosexuals). Further, it will examine subgroups of each KP as classified by race/ethnicity, sex (for heterosexuals and IDUs), and age.In addition to her work at NDRI, Leslie is also an Affiliated Investigator with the Center for Drug Use and HIV Research (CDHUR) in the NYU College of Nursing, and a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Applied Psychology at the NYU Steinhardt, where she is affiliated with the Global TIES for Children center, and involved in developing an NIH proposal for an HIV prevention intervention targeting adolescents in South Africa.