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Gigliana Melzi

Professor of Applied Psychology

Applied Psychology

(212) 998-9023

Gigliana Melzi is Professor of Applied Psychology, Affiliated Faculty at the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, and of the Latinx Project at New York University.  She is also the Director of the Culture, Families, and Early Development Lab. 

Dr. Melzi was born and raised in Lima, Peru. She came to the United States to pursue her undergraduate degree at Clark University, where she double-majored in Spanish Literature and Psychology. She continued her studies in developmental psychology, focusing on language development, at Boston University, where she obtained her PhD.

Dr. Melzi’s work focuses on the intersection of cultural and linguistic practices and their relation to children’s early development and learning, in particular that of dual-language learners from immigrant Latine/x communities. Using mixed-methodology and emic approaches, Dr. Melzi's work investigates how Latine/x immigrant families support their children's learning, the role language plays in that process, and how the educational system can leverage these practices to support children’s school-based learning. Her work adopts a collaborative research stance, working in partnership with Latine/x communities and educational centers serving Latine/x families. In her most recent work as part of a cross-university effort to enhance the Development and Research in Early Math Education (DREME) network, Dr. Melzi is investigating the everyday family math talk in Spanish-speaking and Spanish-English bilingual immigrant homes of preschool aged children. In her newest project, Dr.  Melzi and her collaborators, Dr. Callanan from UC Santa Cruz and Dr. Haden from Loyola University, examine  the role of oral and written stories in supporting young Latine/x preschoolers early science practices.

Dr. Melzi's work has been published in top developmental psychology and language & linguistics journals, including Child Development, Developmental Psychology, Annual Review of Applied Linguistics, Journal of Child Language, as well as practice-oriented journals, such as Bank Street Occasional Papers. Her work has been funded by private foundations, including the Spencer Foundation, the Brady Educational Foundation and the Heising-Simons Foundation, as well as by federal agencies, including National Institute of Health, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, and The National Science Foundation. 

Selected Publications


Developmental Psychology

Prepare for a career as a professor, researcher, or human services professional, or a director or evaluator of mental health and health promotion programs.

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Human Development Research and Policy

The Human Development Research and Policy program prepares students to pursue careers as research project directors, research coordinators, and more.

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Honors Seminar in Applied Psychology

Seminar course of students in the Honors Program in Applied Psychology. The course has three main objectives: (a) provide a forum where students engage in a serious intellectual discussion about the process of research, (b) to provide guidance and structure to students in the process of conducting their independent research studies, and (c) prepare students for presentation of senior thesis and oral examination. All honors students must have a research mentor and approved research project prior to registering for this course.
Course #
APSY-UE 1996
Applied Psychology

Survey of Developmental Psychology: Introduction

This course is designed to give students a comprehensive overview of developmental psychology following a chronological approach. The course covers major theories and research findings on human development, and provides students with the opportunity to appreciate the practical significance of sound theory and research. The course has two distinguishing features: (1) a cross-cultural focus and, (2) an applied emphasis.
By the end of the semester, students will be able to: (a) summarize the major theories, concepts and research methods in developmental psychology, especially as these relate to the study of child development in different contexts, (b) identify basic developmental processes and milestones, and (c) apply developmental concepts to real life situations through the observation of children in their natural settings.
Course #
APSY-UE 9010