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Gigliana Melzi

Associate Professor of Applied Psychology

Applied Psychology

(212) 998-9023

Gigliana Melzi is Associate Professor of Applied Psychology, Director of Undergraduate Studies in Applied Psychology at New York University's Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, & Human Development and Affiliated Faculty at the Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies at New York University.

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 one line of work, Dr. Melzi has examined various discourse and linguistic features in the narrative and book reading conversations of Spanish-speaking mother-child dyads from diverse socio-economic groups. In another line of work, Dr. Melzi and Dr. Christine McWayne at Tufts University developed and validated a measure of family engagement for Spanish and English-speaking Pan-Latino families of preschoolers, examining both the within-group variability as well as its relation to child developmental outcomes. In her latest work, Dr. Melzi and her colleague, Adina Schick, have developed and are assessing the efficacy of an intervention program that capitalizes on Latino families’ cultural funds of knowledge to support preschoolers reading readiness. Most recently, through her work on the DREME network at Stanford University, she and her colleague, Margaret Caspe (Global Family Research Project) are examining everyday home practices and strategies used by Latino families to support early mathematical thinking.

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 the Spencer Foundation, National Institute of Health, The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, and lately by the Brady Educational Foundation and the Brooke Astor Foundation, as well as the Heising-Simons 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.

Human Development and Social Intervention

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


Honors Seminar in Applied Psychology II

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 & structure to students in the process of conducting their independent research studies, & (c) prepare students for presentation of senior thesis & oral examination. All honors students must have a research mentor & approved research project prior to registering for this course.
Course #
APSY-UE 1996

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
Fall, Spring