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Pamela A. Morris-Perez

Professor of Psychology and Social Intervention

Elise Cappella

Vice Provost for University-wide Initiatives and Graduate Education, Professor

James Kemple

Senior Fellow; Research Professor of Teaching and Learning

Research Staff

Rachel Abenavoli, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor

Dr. Rachel Abenavoli is an Assistant Research Professor in NYU Steinhardt’s Institute of Human Development and Social Change and a co-investigator of the Universal Pre-K project. She holds a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from Pennsylvania State University. Her research is grounded in developmental, prevention, and education sciences and focuses on understanding and supporting children’s social-emotional and academic development, particularly as they transition to school. As an Institute of Education Sciences pre-doctoral fellow at Pennsylvania State University, Dr. Abenavoli collaborated on evaluations of school-based interventions targeting student and teacher social-emotional competence, and her dissertation examined how teacher quality and children’s school-entry skills jointly contribute to their behavioral and achievement outcomes. In her current work, she joins Dr. Pamela Morris-Perez, NYU researchers, and district leaders at the NYC Department of Education in efforts to use and conduct research in the context of NYC’s recent universal pre-K expansion. Current projects examine the implementation and impacts of differentiated professional development within this system. She also supports Dr. Morris-Perez’s suicide prevention research as a co-investigator of the ARCADIA project.

Audrey McMaster, B.S.

Audrey McMaster is a project coordinator for the Universal Pre-K project, and a general coordinator for all of Dr. Morris-Perez’s research studies. Audrey graduated from the University of Maryland in 2019 with a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. She is also currently pursuing an M.A. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling at The Chicago School of Professional Psychology. Audrey’s research interests broadly include psychology, child development, and education with an emphasis on mental health. Her long term goal is to provide quality, equitable mental health care to children and adolescents as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC). 

Ashleigh Aviles, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor

Dr. Ashleigh Aviles is a postdoctoral research associate in NYU Steinhardt’s Institute of Human Development and Social Change and holds a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Sciences from The University of Texas at Austin. She currently splits her time between the UPK study and SMART Beginnings. Her research interests include families, parenting, psychological maltreatment, and attachment.

Doctoral Students

Jessica Siegel, M.Ed., Doctoral Student

Jessica Siegel is a doctoral student in the Psychology and Social Intervention Program at New York University. Jessica received her Bachelor of Science in Child Development and Cognitive Studies from Vanderbilt University. She remained at Vanderbilt to receive her M.Ed. in Child Studies, with a specialization in Poverty and Intervention. After graduating, she worked at NYU School of Medicine on ParentCorps, a family-focused, school-based intervention that aims to strengthen family engagement and support parents and teachers to create high-quality learning environments for children of color in low-income communities. Broadly, Jessica’s research interests include investigating the impacts of poverty on child development and how policies and systems can effectively and equitably serve children and families.

Berta Bartoli, M.Ed., Doctoral Student

Berta Bartoli is a doctoral student in the Psychology and Social Intervention program at New York University. She graduated with an economics undergraduate degree from Northeastern University and a Statistics and Measurement master's degree in University of Pennsylvania's Graduate School of Education. Prior to joining NYU, Berta worked on research projects related to parental engagement in the US context and in developing contexts (such as Ghana, Nicaragua, and China). As an academic, she is interested in the ways in which children's environments shape their psychological and educational development, with a special focus on the influence of caregivers' behaviors on these outcomes in the short- and long-term. Berta aims to support existing and novel programs and policies targeted at caregivers, with a focus on (1) increasing access to their programming; and (2) their program's effectiveness in raising parental and student outcomes.

Former Research Assistants

Alex Parton

Ancelma Vazquez Montano

Anthony Garcia

Ashanti Vanier-Waldron

Billy Jin

Brianna Vega

Cara Crosby

Eshika Ahmed

Gianna Campa

Jacob Keller

James Scimeca

Hawa Nasiri

Kamila Bergaliyeva

Katarina Hajder

Kate Marshall

Katherine Zito

Kristina Horne

Leo Zhu

Natalie Cuenco

Rachel Mitchell

Shantina Washington

Xia Headley

Zerin Chowdhury

Zobaida Maria


Amira Janadi, B.S.

Hailey Vogel, M.S.

Helena Wippick, M.A.

Jessica Young, B.S.

Jisoo Kim, M.A.

Natalia Rojas, Ph.D.

Travis Cramer, Ph.D