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Faculty

Pamela A. Morris, Ph.D., Interim Dean, Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development, Professor of Applied Psychology

Dr. Morris is co-principal investigator on the project: Integrated model for promoting parenting and early school readiness in pediatrics. Dr. Morris has conducted more than a decade of research working at the intersection of social policy, practice, and developmental psychology, testing promising interventions for low-income families and children. Dr. Morris’ research is characterized by the study of theoretically-informed interventions, strong attention to measurement of developmental outcomes for children, and cutting-edge analytic strategies on causal inference, and strong research designs. She received a bachelor’s degree from Columbia University and a doctorate in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University.

Alan Mendelsohn, M.D., Associate 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, the Academic Pediatric Association Child Poverty Task Force and the NIH/NICHD Biobehavioral and Behavioral Sciences Subcommittee. 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 the Video Interaction Project. 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.

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 the Director of the Pitt Parents and Children Laboratory (PPCL). He also serves as Professor and Chair of the Department of Psychology at the University of Pittsburgh, with joint appointments in the School of Medicine and Center for Social and Urban 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 leads or co-directs four NIH-funded, longitudinal studies investigating the early antecedents and prevention of childhood conduct problems and substance use, which form the core of the PPCL. His most recent work applies an ecologically- and developmentally-informed intervention for low-income toddlers at risk for early conduct problems, Dishion’s Family Check-Up. 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 recently 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) and APA’s Division 53 on Child and Adolescent Clinical Psychology (2005). 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. Dr. Shaw has published extensively on risk factors associated with the development and prevention of conduct problems in from early childhood through adolescence, with more than 250 publications.

NYU School of Medicine Team

Caitlin Canfield, Ph.D., Research Director, New York University School of Medicine

Caitlin is a developmental psychologist who completed a T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship program in Pediatric Primary Care Research at NYU School of Medicine. Her research focuses on how children’s characteristics and environments affect their individual development, and how parents can encourage their children’s development despite external stresses. She is currently studying how stressful life circumstances affect the regulation of children’s stress hormones, and how this relates to their physical and mental health, as well as their school functioning. 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 the needs of individual families. 

Anne Seery, Ph.D., Director of Operations, New York University School of Medicine

Anne is a developmental psychologist who splits her time as laboratory manager between the SMART Beginnings and BELLE projects at NYU's School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital. She received her BA in psychology and mathematics from Rutgers University and her Ph.D. in human development from Boston University, where her research focused on the linguistic, cognitive, and neural development of infants and young children. In particular, she is interested in language acquisition and development in infants and children who are at risk for developmental disorders or other issues as a result of biological and environmental factors.

Erin Roby, Ph.D., T32 Postdoctoral Fellow, New York University School of Medicine

Erin is a developmental psychologist and a T32 Postdoctoral Fellow in the Pediatric Primary Care Research Program at the NYU School of Medicine. Her research focuses on the factors that contribute to social cognitive development during the first years of life as well as individual differences in social cognitive skills that exist across the lifespan. More specifically, Erin is interested in how particular aspects of early parent-child interactions facilitate children’s social and cognitive development, and how interventions on these interactions can promote positive outcomes for at-risk children and families.

Luciane Piccolo, Ph.D., Postdoctoral Fellow, Project Coordinator, New York University School of Medicine

Luciane is a Psychologist with a PhD in Developmental Psychology. Her research integrates Developmental Psychology and Cognitive Neuroscience and focuses on poverty-related disparities in child cognitive outcomes, especially language, memory and executive functioning. She particularly aims to understand how early childhood experiences are associated with cognitive and brain development and the modifiable environmental factors (such as stress and family language environment) by which socioeconomic disparities operate. 

Maya Matalon, Trainer/Supervisor, New York University School of Medicine

Maya Matalon received a BA in Psychology and Hispanic studies from Oberlin College and her MPH at New York University College of Global Public Health. Previously Maya was a Fulbright Teaching Fellow in Iquitos, Peru. Upon her return to the United States Maya worked as Preventive Services Case Planner at BronxWorks, where she managed a caseload of families providing case counseling, advocacy and service referrals. Maya most recently was a research assistant at the NYU School of Medicine: BELLE Project before beginning her work as a VIP Parent-Child Specialist/Interventionist for both the BELLE project and Smart Beginnings. She is interested in maternal mental health and access to services and support in low income communities and the way this effects child outcomes and the parent child relationship.

Juliana Gutierrez, Research / Project Associate, New York University School of Medicine

Juliana Gutierrez received her BA in Educational Studies and Political Science from Swarthmore College. She joined our team in 2019 as a Smart Beginnings Research Assistant. Previously, she assisted researchers on an impact evaluation of the Middle School Quality Initiative at the NYC Department of Education, and a parenting intervention focused on father-son relationships in New York City’s African- American and Latino communities through NYU’s Center for Latino and Adolescent Health. She is interested in the research and design of initiatives to support underserved families as they and their children navigate the school system, particularly addressing the children and adolescent’s social-emotional development in families of diverse cultural and linguistic backgrounds.

Fernanda Fernandez, Interventionist, Research / Project Associate, New York University School of Medicine

Fernanda received her BA in Neuroscience from Princeton University, where she worked as a research assistant in a Developmental Psychology Lab. She joined the BELLE Project team as a VIP Interventionist and research assistant in June of 2019. Fernanda is planning on continuing her education in medicine and hopes to work continue working with Spanish-speaking families and children as a physician in the future.

Jennifer Ledesma, Interventionist, New York University School of Medicine

Jennifer earned her BA in Psychology from Hunter College. She started her work with underprivileged families at New York University’s Steinhardt Center for Research on Culture, Development and Education. Her research interests include cultural differences in parenting styles and its impact on children’s cognitive, social and emotional development. In addition to this, she is also interested in early language development and literacy.

University of Pittsburgh Team

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

Dr. Anne Gill is a Counseling Psychologist at the University of Pittsburgh and the Clinical Supervisor for the Family Check-Up component of the SMART Beginnings project. Anne currently provides clinical services to families in addition to coordinating treatment services and providing supervision, training, and mentoring of clinicians using the Family Check-Up Model. Trained as a family therapist, Anne strives to provide high-quality, accessible, respectful, and culturally sensitive services to families and children. She has authored and co-authored articles and book chapters about the Family Check-Up, including “The Family Check-Up in Early Childhood: A Case Study of Intervention Process and Change,” published in the Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology. Anne received her Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2003.

Johana M. Rosas, Project Coordinator, University of Pittsburgh

Johana M. Rosas is a post-doctoral associate in the department of psychology at the University of Pittsburgh and the Project Coordinator for the Pittsburgh site of the SMART Beginnings project. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical and Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in 2015. After college, she worked at NYU's School of Medicine and Bellevue Hospital with Dr. Suzy Tomopoulos and Dr. Alan Mendelsohn in a variety of research projects including the BELLE project. Dr. Rosas’ research interests include the role of early experience on children’s development, caregiver-child relationship in infancy, and interventions that promote positive parenting and school readiness.

Tracie A. Stufft, M.S., Interventionist, University of Pittsburgh

Tracie is the Family Check-Up Interventionist for the Pittsburgh site of the SMART Beginnings project. A family therapist at the University of Pittsburgh, she has provided clinical services to families using the Family Check-Up model for over ten years and is an international and national trainer and consultant for the Family Check-Up model. Tracie earned her M.S. in Applied Developmental Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh in 1995, and has worked as a child and family psychotherapist for over 20 years. She also is an adjunct professor at a Pittsburgh community college, teaching psychology and child development classes. Tracie is currently pursuing her Doctor of Education degree in Social and Comparative Analysis in Education at the University of Pittsburgh.

 Ashley N Griffin, B.S., IMH-E®, VIP Interventionist, University of Pittsburgh

Ashley Griffin received a BS in Psychology with a minor in Administration of Justice from the University of Pittsburgh in 2016. After graduation, she started as a VIP Interventionist on SMART Beginnings. She is endorsed in the state of Pennsylvania as an Infant Mental Health Associate recognizing knowledge, training, and criteria for best standards of practice in the infant mental health field. She is currently working toward her Masters of Science in Rehabilitation and Mental Health Counseling at the University of Pittsburgh.

New York University Team

Elizabeth B. Miller, Ph.D., Research Assistant Professor 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 for which groups of children 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.

Helena Wippick, Project Coordinator/Data Manager, New York University

Helena Wippick is a project coordinator and data manager at NYU. Prior to working at NYU, she held positions as a research associate at the Correctional Association of New York, a prison monitoring non-profit, and as the lab manager of the Yale University Social Cognitive Development Lab. She holds a bachelor’s degree in Psychology with a concentration in Gender and Sexuality Studies from Bard College. Her research interests include using evidence-based interventions to reduce systems of structural inequality. She is particularly interested in the intersections of poverty, child development, education, and the criminal justice system, and in issues such as the criminalization of poverty, juvenile justice and the impacts of familial incarceration. 

Parham Horn, Graduate Research Fellow, New York University

Parham Horn is a fifth-year doctoral student in the Counseling Psychology program at NYU. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Psychology at Georgetown University. Prior to attending NYU, she worked as a research assistant at MDRC, helping to implement and evaluate two large-scale randomized controlled trials for low-income children in prekindergarten classrooms. She was also a post-baccalaureate research fellow at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development where she studied infant cognition and parent-child interactions from infancy to young adulthood. Her current research interests include social-emotional learning, teacher-child and parent-child interactions, disruptive behavior problems, and interventions that focus on improving social and academic outcomes for low-income children.