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Pamela Morris-Perez

Pamela A. Morris-Perez, Ph.D., Professor of Applied Psychology, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development; Affiliated Professor, NYU School of Global Public Health

Dr. Morris-Perez is a Principal Investigator on the MPI NIH-funded $5.5M project: Integrated model for promoting parenting and early school readiness in pediatrics. An interdisciplinary scholar, Morris-Perez conducts research at the intersection of developmental psychology, suicidology, education, and policy. In her 25 year career, she has secured more than $75M in funding and has published more than 100 peer-reviewed papers, book chapters, and policy reports. Her early childhood work includes a $4M IES-funded partnership with NYCs Department of Education to support the historic Pre-k for All. Morris-Perez’s newest research, borne from the loss of her 17-year-old daughter to suicide in 2019, addresses adolescent suicide from a developmentally-informed, population-health perspective as part of the newly launched center, ARCADIA (A Research Center for Adolescent Interconnected Approaches) for Suicide Prevention. With over $6M in funding from the William T. Grant Foundation and NIMH, she brings suicide prevention to the spaces that youth already are (schools and emergency departments) to help more youth connect to care more quickly. A former William T. Grant scholar, Morris-Perez served as lead editor of the Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness and a member of the National Academy of Sciences Board on Children, Youth, and Families. She received a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a doctorate in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University. 

Alan Mendelsohn

Alan Mendelsohn, M.D., Professor, Department of Pediatrics and Department of Population Health, New York University School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital Center

Dr. Mendelsohn is co-principal investigator on this project: Integrated model for promoting parenting and early school readiness in pediatrics. Dr. Mendelsohn is a developmental-behavioral pediatrician who is Director of Research for the Divisions of General and Developmental-Behavioral Pediatrics and Co-Director of Biostatistical Analysis Coursework for the NYU Clinical and Translational Science Institute - Masters of Science Program in Clinical Investigation. Dr. Mendelsohn is a member of the American Academy of Pediatrics Council on Early Childhood and the Academic Pediatric Association Child Poverty Task Force. He has received national recognition for his work as a Zero to Three Leaders for the 21st Century Harris Fellow. Dr. Mendelsohn's research has focused on poverty-related disparities in critical child outcomes including child development, obesity and chronic disease. He has investigated the role of environmental factors, both psychosocial (parent-child interactions, electronic media exposure, maternal depression, maternal literacy/health literacy, feeding practices) and biologic (lead), in relation to these outcomes. Dr. Mendelsohn's studies have demonstrated the potential role for the pediatric primary care setting as a universal platform for promotion of school readiness through enhanced parenting, through interventions such as Reach out and Read and PlayReadVIP (previously called Video Interaction Project [VIP]). Dr. Mendelsohn has been the recipient of NIH/NICHD R01 funding as a Principal Investigator since 2005. Dr. Mendelsohn is also a co-author of an instrument (StimQ) that can be used to assess the cognitive home environment in low income households.

A headshot of Dr. Daniel Shaw, University of Pittsburgh

Daniel Shaw, Ph.D., Distinguished Professor and Department Chair, Department of Psychology, University of Pittsburgh 

Dr. Shaw is co-principal investigator on the project: Integrated model for promoting parenting and early school readiness in pediatrics. Dr. Shaw is Distinguished Professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh. At Pitt, he also serves as the Director of the Center for Parents and Children and the Director of the Pitt Parents and Children Laboratory (PPCL),with joint appointments in the Schools of Medicine and Education, and Centers for Social and Urban Research and Translational Research. Since receiving his Ph.D. in child clinical and developmental psychology from the University of Virginia in 1988, his primary interest has involved tracing the early developmental precursors of early problem behavior among at-risk children. He currently co-directs five NIH-funded, longitudinal studies investigating the early antecedents and prevention of childhood conduct and mental health problems and the promotion of school readiness among low-income, ethnically/racially diverse children. He also leads the Early Childhood Collaborative of The Pittsburgh Study, a population-level implementation of a tiered parenting program model for children 0-5 years of age in the Pittsburgh community. For his conceptual and empirical work on the development of young children’s conduct problems, he was awarded the Boyd McCandless Young Scientist Award by APA’s Division of Developmental Psychology in 1995. He also was awarded the Robert B. Cairns Award for Contributions to Developmental Science by the Carolina Consortium on Human Development (2015). Dr. Shaw is a Fellow of the Association for Psychological Science (APS), APA’s Division 53 on Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychology (2005), and the Society for Prevention Research (2020), the latter of which includes approximately 35 individuals. He held a Research Scientist Award from the National Institute of Mental Health or National Institute on Drug Abuse from 1999 to 2014, is Associate Editor of the journal, Development and Psychopathology, has served on several editorial review boards of journals (e.g., Child Development, Developmental Psychology, Development and Psychopathology, Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology), and has been a member of several expert panels convened by NIH and HHS, including recently serving as Chair of Psychosocial Development, Risk, and Prevention IRG (2019-2021). Dr. Shaw has published extensively on risk factors associated with the development and prevention of child and adolescent problem behavior, with more than 420 publications.

New York University Team

Portrait of Dr. Elizabeth Miller.

Elizabeth B. Miller, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, NYU Grossman School of Medicine, and Research Director, New York University

Dr. Elizabeth B. Miller received her Ph.D. from the School of Education at the University of California, Irvine specializing in Education Policy & Social Context. She also holds a Master's degree from the Harvard Graduate School of Education and a B.A. in Economics from Columbia University. Elizabeth’s research interests include early childhood policy interventions and how these interventions can increase low-income children’s school readiness. She is particularly interested in the groups of children of which these policies work best and has a special focus on Dual Language Learners. Recently, Elizabeth has expanded her focus to include interventions for infants and toddlers in the 0-3 age period. She is currently the research director for the SMART Beginnings.

Portrait of Dr. Ashleigh Aviles.

Ashleigh I. Aviles, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Associate, New York University

Ashleigh is the NYU WSQ postdoctoral associate for SMART Beginnings. She completed her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Sciences (HDFS) at The University of Texas at Austin (UT). She also earned her M.A. in HDFS at UT, and a B.A. in Psychology from Columbia University. Ashleigh’s research interests span early and middle childhood, with an emphasis on factors and contexts that impact parenting and child outcomes. Currently, her research focuses on parenting practices, school readiness, child mental health, social-emotional development, and childhood trauma. She also serves as the Student and Early Career Council (SECC) Member on the Society for Research in Child Development's (SRCD) Teaching Committee.

Portrait of Jennifer Burns.

Jennifer Burns, B.S., Senior Project Coordinator, New York University

Jen received her B.S. in Applied Psychology from New York University Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development in May of 2022. She worked as a Research Assistant for SMART Beginnings as an undergraduate intern and transitioned into her current position as a Project Coordinator post-graduation. Her role includes creating and monitoring data systems, data documentation, and data management; grant management; and supervision of interns. Jen plans to attend a Masters in Social Work program in the near future with the hopes of obtaining licensure to work in a clinical position, with a focus on serving AAPI communities.

Portrait of Chris Rodrigues.

Chris Rodrigues, M.A., Data Analyst, New York University

Chris Rodrigues received his M.A in Quantitative Methods in the Social Sciences from the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences at Columbia University. With many years of involvement as a statistical programmer and data manager for various early childhood policy intervention studies, Chris contributes to the data analysis for the SMART Beginnings study.

Portrait of Jaimie Chin.

Jaimie Chin, Assistant Research Scientist, New York University

Jaimie Chin is currently serving as an Assistant Research Scientist in the SMART Beginnings Lab. Her professional interests lie at the intersection of psychology, data science, and human-centered design. She earned a Bachelor of Science in Applied Psychology and a Bachelor of Arts in Data Science from New York University, where her academic pursuits nurtured her enthusiasm for research methodologies and data analysis. She is currently pursuing a Master of Science in Human-Centered Design & Engineering at the University of Washington, where she focuses on optimizing user experiences through data-driven solutions. Jaimie's role at SMART Beginnings Lab reflects her dedication to her work, which includes conducting comprehensive literature reviews, generating strategic insights, and maintaining meticulous data records. She possesses proficiency in coding languages, research tools, and data analytics, positioning herself to contribute significantly to the fields of psychology, data science, and human-centered design.

NYU Grossman School of Medicine Team

Portrait of Dr. Caitlin Canfield.

Caitlin Canfield, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Caitlin is a developmental psychologist who focuses on how children’s characteristics and environments affect their individual development. She is currently studying the impacts of stress at the family and neighborhood levels on family well-being, parenting, and children’s early development. Caitlin’s long-term goals involve using her research experience to determine how interventions aimed at improving children’s cognitive and emotional well-being can be tailored to meet each child and family’s individual needs.

Portrait of Annie Seery

Anne Seery, Ph.D., Director, PlayReadVIP National Center at NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Anne Seery, Ph.D., is the Director of the PlayReadVIP National Center at NYU Grossman School of Medicine. Dr. Seery has been working with PlayReadVIP since 2014, where she has been leading expansion and growth, including helping to grow the program from its initial 2 locations while supporting development of program materials, training structure, and implementation processes.  She is a developmental psychologist with a goal of ensuring that all children have the resources to thrive and start school ready to learn.  She completed her BA in psychology and mathematics from Rutgers University, and her Ph.D. in Psychology/Human Development from Boston University, where her doctoral work focused on investigation of the early progression of autism spectrum disorder, including working to understand early symptoms or biomarkers in infancy before a diagnosis is possible.

Portrait of Erin Roby.

Erin Roby, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, NYU Grossman School of Medicine 

Erin is a developmental psychologist whose research is focused on the development of skills that are important for children’s social and academic success such as social cognition, social competence, and language. The overarching goal of her work is to identify the factors that support these abilities. She has conducted research in laboratory and community-based settings, as well as in the context of applied research implementing preventive parenting interventions aimed to reduce poverty-related disparities in child development. Thus her work bridges basic and translational developmental science. Dr. Roby has co-authored several papers demonstrating the efficacy of the SMART Beginnings model. She is also the recipient of an NIH NIMHD K01 award focused on implementing pediatric primary care based parenting interventions, such as PlayReadVIP (primary prevention strategy in SMART Beginnings), in underserved rural populations.

Portrait of Danruo Zhong.

Danruo Zhong, Ph.D., Research Scientist, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Dr. Danruo Zhong received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. Her research focuses on the impacts of early life stress (e.g., poverty and deprivation) on physical and mental health in children and adolescents, and how parenting interventions mitigate these adverse effects. Her goal is to use her research to better inform practice and intervention efforts to reduce health and developmental disparities in the developing population.

Portrait of Margaret Griffin.

Margaret Griffin, B.A., Research Coordinator, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Margaret received her B.A. in Psychological Sciences from Colgate University. She joined the team as a Research Intern in 2021 and has since gained valuable experience as a Research Assistant, and now as a Research Coordinator supporting the implementation of the SMART Beginnings program and conducting developmental assessments of participants. Motivated by her goal to improve access to mental health resources within underserved communities, Margaret hopes to pursue a degree in Mental Health Counseling in the future.

Portrait of Victoria Guevara.

Victoria Guevara, B.S.,  Research Assistant, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Vicky received her B.S. in Biology and Society with minors in Inequality Studies and Psychology from Cornell University. She joined our team in January 2023. Her previous experience includes working as an undergraduate research assistant studying language acquisition and spatial recognition in preschoolers, as well as mentoring school-aged children to pursue a future in research and medicine. She is interested in learning more about serving Spanish-speaking families and children. Vicky is passionate about childhood development and is planning on pursuing a career in medicine as a physician.

Portrait of Luisa Vaca-Condado.

Luisa Vaca-Condado, Research Assistant, NYU Grossman School of Medicine

Luisa received her BA in Psychology from New York University. She joined our team in March 2020. Previous experiences include working in community outreach, private practice, and medical education. She has volunteered in hospital settings in New York and education in London. Luisa is interested in how children develop language especially in bilingual homes.

University of Pittsburgh Team

Portrait of Anne Gill.

Anne Gill, Ph.D., Clinical Supervisor, University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Anne Gill is a Counseling Psychologist and Co-Director of the Center for Parents and Children at the University of Pittsburgh.  She is the Clinical Supervisor for the Family Check-Up component of the SMART Beginnings project and has served as the clinical supervisor for several randomized control trials of the Family Check-Up. Anne has provided clinical services to families for over 20 years and strives to provide high-quality, accessible, respectful, and culturally sensitive services to families and children. Since 2003, Anne has worked closely with various adaptations and implementations of the Family Check-Up and provides supervision, training, and mentoring for many clinicians using the model. In addition, she has co-authored numerous articles and book chapters about the Family Check-Up and contributed significantly to the development of intervention manuals, web-based curriculum for clinicians, and trainer instruction programs for the Family Check-Up.

Portrait of Katherine Guyon-Harris

Katherine Guyon-Harris, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine

Dr. Katherine Guyon-Harris received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from Eastern Michigan University. She completed her clinical internship and fellowship training at the Tulane University School of Medicine in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, specializing in Infant Mental Health. Katherine is focused on supporting positive parent-child relationships during the perinatal period through both research and clinical work. She is particularly interested in developing more accessible and acceptable parenting support for caregivers coping with mental health challenges and other adversities, particularly substance use and trauma, that begin during pregnancy. Her research focuses on the origins of parent-child attachment and parenting behavior and the impacts of perinatal mental health and substance use on these processes. She is currently a Co-Investigator on the SMART Beginnings project supporting the implementation of the SMART Beginnings program within a pediatric primary care clinic at the University of Pittsburgh.

Portrait of Leah Hunter.

Leah J. Hunter, Ph.D., Assistant Research Professor, University of Pittsburgh

Dr. Leah Hunter received her Ph.D. in School Psychology from Penn State. She is currently an Assistant Research Professor at the University of Pittsburgh as well as a PA licensed psychologist and certified Family Check-Up coach. Leah's research interests span sustainable intervention programs designed to promote school readiness skills in young children. She is interested in understanding education-adjacent outcomes in the study of parenting interventions, and in particular how parents from disadvantaged neighborhoods navigate their children's early school experiences. Leah is the senior project coordinator for the Pittsburgh arm of SMART Beginnings and also sees several families from Pittsburgh as a Family Check-Up coach.

Portrait of Julia Gajewski-Nemes.

Julia Gajewski-Nemes, Doctoral Student, University of Pittsburgh

Julia is a doctoral student at the University of Pittsburgh pursuing her Ph.D. in Clinical and Developmental psychology. She currently leads the parent-child interaction coding team for the SMART Beginnings Project. Prior to being in Pittsburgh, she received her Bachelor of Arts in psychology and sociology from Amherst College and worked in Brown University’s Rhode Island Resilience Lab studying adolescents' responses to trauma. Julia’s research interests include investigating the role of early experience on children’s development of self-regulatory abilities, with a particular focus on the caregiver-child relationship.

Portrait of Milly Godwin.

Milly Godwin, Research Assistant, University of Pittsburgh

Milly Godwin received her B.A. in Psychology from West Virginia University (WVU) in 2023. While at WVU, she served as an undergraduate research assistant in the Parent-Child Interaction Therapy lab under Dr. Cheryl McNeil. She is currently a first-year student in the Clinical Mental Health Counseling M.S. program at the University of Pittsburgh and joined the Smart Beginnings team in August of 2023. Milly plans to gain licensure in counseling and pursue a career in providing mental health services to young children experiencing a variety of emotional dysregulation problems. 

Portrait of Bobbie Hall.

Bobbie A. Hall, Research Assistant, University of Pittsburgh

Bobbie works on both the SMART Beginnings Project and the Early Steps Multisite Study at the University of Pittsburgh. She received a BA in Psychology with a minor in disability studies in 2021. Bobbie has been highly active in research since 2017. Her previous research experiences span the fields of sociology, religious studies, gynecologic oncology, and psychology. In the future, Bobbie aspires to obtain a Clinical or Counseling Psychology Ph.D. to research and service multiply-marginalized communities.

Research Assistants

Yasmeen Carneiro
Jennifer Ciccaglione
Devanshi Loomba

Jeslin Muttappillil
Mayah Singh
Michelle Stern

Sienna Smith
Shelby Thayer
Nicole Weiss


Jenny Arevalo
Montia Brock
Lerzan Coskun
Adriana Chung
Fernanda Fernandez
Ashley Griffin
Juliana Gutierrez

Julia Honoroff
Jisoo Kim
Maya Matalon
Elise Mauren
Jessica Metzinger

Luciane Piccolo
Johana M. Rosas
Tracie Stufft
Leonela Tutasig
Helena Wippick
Yudong Zhang

Former Research Assistants

Sanela Begani
Katie Bent-Koerick
Shan Gao
Erica Hughes
Nancy Li
Caitlin McCarty

Morgan Mcloughlin
Mollyrose Napolitano
Chinaza Ndee
Ysobel Ramirez
Niko Sanchez
Ancelma Vasquez

Pia Villavicencio
Anuja Vora
Mackenzie Whipps
Rebecca Wu