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PhD in Developmental Psychology

Meet Our Students

Kat Adams

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Kat Adams  is a doctoral student in Developmental Psychology at NYU Steinhardt. She is interested in how experience shapes children’s real-time cognitive processes and active learning strategies, particularly in the context of social and environmental risk. A key aim of her research is to create and collaborate on innovative uses of technology and statistical methods for data collection and analysis. Kat graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in linguistics from UCLA in 2010. She joined NYU after four years as a lab manager and research coordinator at Stanford University. Visit Kat's website for more information.


Anna Bennet

Anna Bennet is a doctoral student in the Developmental Psychology program at NYU Steinhardt. She received her B.A. in Cultural Analysis and Women’s Studies from Gallatin, NYU and her M.A. in Psychology from GSAS, NYU. Prior to coming to Steinhardt, Anna was part of Dr. Catherine Good’s research team at Baruch, CUNY, examining links between gender identity and stereotype threat vulnerability, as well as methods to reduce the presence of STEM-related stereotype threat among children, adolescents and young adults. Anna’s primary academic interests are gender development, identity formation and psychosocial adjustment among children, adolescents and young adults. At Steinhardt NYU, she is currently working on projects with Dr. Selcuk Sirin, Dr. Niobe Way and Dr. Diane Ruble.


Annie Brandes-Aitken

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Annie Brandes-Aitken is a first-year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychology department. In the Neuroscience and Education Lab, Annie is interested in coupling biological and behavioral assessment methods to explore the impact of early childhood experiences on executive functioning and academic achievement. As an NSF Fellow, Annie plans to characterize the cognitive profiles of individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds using EEG biomarkers to ultimately inform intervention methods. Prior to attending NYU, Annie worked in Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience research at UC San Francisco. Annie graduated magna cum laude with a B.S. in Psychology from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo


Stephen Braren

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Stephen Braren is a doctoral student in the Developmental Psychology program at NYU Steinhardt. Broadly, he seeks to better understand how social and biological factors contribute to learning and cognitive development, particularly within the context of stress and poverty. Currently, in the Neuroscience and Education Lab, he is examining how neural, inflammatory, and endocrine biomarkers associated with early life adversity interact with executive function. Ultimately, he hopes to use this and other research to critically inform education and health policy, especially to improve outcomes for disadvantaged and underprivileged groups. Previously, he earned a BA in Psychology and Public Policy from Hunter College of the City University of New York where he worked with Dr. Peter Serrano, researching the neurobiology of spatial learning and working memory. He has also participated in psychology and neuroscience research with Dr. Elizabeth Phelps at NYU, Dr. Jon Kaas at Vanderbilt University, and Dr. Eduardo Vianna at LaGuardia Community College.

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Elysia Choi is a doctoral student in the Developmental Psychology program at NYU Steinhardt. She completed her B.A. in Psychology at NYU where she worked with Dr. Marjorie Rhodes to understand how creationist beliefs affect the development of essentialism and social categories in younger children. Afterwards, she worked as a lab manager at University of Pennsylvania for Drs. Deena and Michael Weisberg. At Penn, she focused on two projects: (1) the development of scientific thinking skills both in younger children and in adults and (2) community science projects with high school students local to the Galapagos Islands to promote scientific thinking skills. Broadly, her academic interests lie in how social factors such as gender, poverty, and culture affect educational and cognitive development. Her primary advisor at NYU is Dr. Selcuk Sirin. 

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Kelly Escobar, M.S., is a doctoral fellow in the Developmental Psychology program in Applied Psychology. Broadly, her research focuses on the language development of Latino dual-language learners from infancy through early childhood. Kelly studies how diverse interactions with important others across various contexts shape children's emergent bilingualism. She also studies how language use changes over time and emphasizes the individual variability in bilingual language development. She is a New York City native and graduated Cum Laude from Villanova University. Kelly's works under the guidance of Drs. Gigliana Melzi and Catherine Tamis-Lemonda, working on two research teams studying the language and narrative development of Latino children: the Latino Family Engagement and Language Development research team and the Center for Research on Culture, Development, and Education. Kelly also continues to collaborate with Dr. Rebecca Brand at Villanova University on infant motor development and language acquisition. She received her B.A. in Psychology and B.A. in Italian Language and Literature, as well as her M.S. in Experimental Psychology from Villanova University

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Katelyn Fletcher is currently a doctoral student in the Developmental Psychology program at NYU Steinhart. She completed her B.S. in Human Development at Cornell University with a minor in Education. After graduating, she worked as an elementary teaching resident in Boston and as Lab Manager of an education research lab focused on literacy interventions for low-income preschoolers. Broadly, her research interests include infant and toddler learning and development and the role of caregivers in promoting positive development in vulnerable populations. She is currently investigating how features of infants' home environments shape every day learning and play. Katelyn’s primary adviser at NYU is Dr. Catherine Tamis-LeMonda.

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Jill Gandhi is a 2nd year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychology program at NYU Steinhardt. Jill works with Dr. Cybele Raver and Dr. Clancy Blair. She is broadly interested in examining home- and school-based inputs on early childhood educational development, particularly to inform interventions with low-income families. She is currently engaged in projects examining the patterns of classroom quality in preschools during the school year and the impacts of a caregiver reading frequency intervention on the caregiver’s reading behaviors. Prior to attending NYU, Jill worked at the University of Chicago’s Behavioral Insights and Parenting Lab, where she coordinated parenting interventions in Head Start centers. Additionally, Jill taught Algebra at a public school in Jackson, Mississippi. She received her B.A. in Plan II Honors and Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin.

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Ashley Greaves is a graduate student in the Developmental Psychology program at NYU Steinhardt.  She received a B.A. from Swarthmore College in Neuroscience and Educational Studies. With help from Swarthmore research advisers and Dr. Kimberly Noble at the Neurocogniton, Early Experience, and Development Lab at Teachers College, Columbia University, she wrote her senior thesis on socioeconomic disparities in infant memory development.  At NYU, she plans on continuing her research in infant executive functioning, language, and memory development across socioeconomic differences.

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Angelica Puzio is a doctoral student in the Developmental Psychology program at NYU Steinhardt working with Niobe Way. Her research focuses on how adolescents’ understandings of masculinity and femininity affect their identities and relationships. She is specifically interested in (a) the role of culture in nurturing youths’ resistance or accommodation to gender and race stereotypes and (b) how these developmental processes are linked to social, emotional, and academic outcomes. Angelica hopes to merge multiple epistemological traditions in her work, including the intersections of classical developmental science and feminist theory. Angelica received a B.A. in psychology from Loyola University Maryland before attending Wake Forest University, where she completed her M.A. in psychology under the mentorship of Dr. Deborah Best. 

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Andrew Ribner is a fifth year PhD candidate in the Developmental Psychology program at NYU Steinhardt and works with Drs. Clancy Blair and Catherine Tamis-LeMonda. His work focuses on the multidimensional influences on the development of self-regulatory skills in early childhood, including characteristics of the home environment such as exposure to electronic screen-based media. He also studies the development of mathematical skills and the and the relations between self-regulatory skills and children's ability to learn math. Prior to starting at NYU, Andrew received a B.A. from Wesleyan University in Educational Psychology and Learning Theory, Biology, and Psychology, and worked in the Cognitive Development Labs under Dr. Anna Shusterman.

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Jacob Schatz is a second year graduate student in the Developmental Psychology program at NYU Steinhardt, working with Dr. Catherine Tamis-LeMonda. Jacob is broadly interested in examining the behavioral components of adult-child interaction, with an eye toward using joint engagement and guided play to support early childhood development and education. Jacob currently works on an investigation of parent-infant interaction and infant object exploration in the naturalistic home setting. He also studies how parents' language input to their preschool-age children scaffolds child learning during a playful problem-solving activity. Prior to NYU, Jacob worked for two years as a lab coordinator in Dr. Kathryn Hirsh-Pasek’s Temple Infant and Child Lab. There, Jacob worked primarily on a federally funded, multi-site and multi-media vocabulary intervention in preschool classrooms serving low-income communities.

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Esther J. Sin is a doctoral student in the Developmental Psychology program in the Applied Psychology department at NYU Steinhardt. She completed her B.S. at Boston University and her M.A. at Teachers College, Columbia University. At Teachers College, she was in Dr. Suniya Luthar's lab investigating how the context and culture in upper-middle-class communities get in the way of adolescent development and promote maladaptive behaviors. Esther is currently involved in two projects at NYU: New York City Academic and Social Engagement Study (NYCASES) with Dr. Selcuk Sirin and Early Adolescent Cohort (EAC) study with Dr. Niobe Way. Esther is interested in using mixed methods to understand (1) how sociocultural contexts affect developmental outcomes of immigrant youth, (2) how sociocultural contexts shape mothers' gender socialization across ethnic groups, and (3) how gender socialization is related to adolescent socio-emotional development. She was in brand consulting before she made a shift to developmental psychology.

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Brian Spitzer is a doctoral student in the Developmental Psychology program in Applied Psychology. Most broadly, he is interested in how to shape child behavior by studying the social forces that underlie motivation and learning. He believes in combining research from psychology and education to develop brief interventions that improve the course of a behavior over time. He received his B.A. in psychology and child development at California State University, Chico and went on to work at Stanford University with Carol Dweck and Dr. David Yeager to understand how students' beliefs about learning and school affect their motivation. At NYU, he has worked with Dr. Clancy Blair, Dr. Cybele Raver, and Dr. Joshua Aronson on a wide range of interventions related to students’ underlying beliefs regarding whether or not intelligence/abilities can change. Currently, he is working with his mentor, Dr. Catherine Tamis-LeMonda, researching parental views of the utility of education, achievement goals, and children’s theories of intelligence. 

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Daniel Daewon Suh is a doctoral student in the Developmental Psychology Program at NYU Steinhardt and currently works with Dr. Catherine Tamis-LeMonda. His broad research interest is in how children's interactions with others and their environment affect children’s cognitive development from infancy to early childhood. He is particularly interested in how children’s social interactions with parents, childcare caregivers, and peers affects the development of children’s early spatial skills, which have been linked to later STEM achievement and entry into the STEM fields. He received both his B.A. in Human Biology, Health, and Society and his M.A. in Developmental Psychology from Cornell University. While at Cornell, he worked with Dr. Marianella Casasola in the Cornell Infant Studies Lab to investigate how the interaction of spatial play and spatial language input affected the development of children's spatial skills. He continues to collaborate with Dr. Casasola, who also works with his primary adviser at NYU, Dr. Catherine Tamis-Lemonda.

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Sarah Vogel is a doctoral student in the Developmental Psychology program at NYU Steinhardt. She graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology and French from the University of Rochester in 2016. Under the guidance of Dr. Catherine Cerulli, Sarah completed an honor’s project examining parent and child outcomes at an emergency childcare center in Rochester, NY. After completing her undergraduate degree, Sarah spent 2 years as a lab manager with Dr. Laura Germine at McLean Hospital, where she managed participant communication and coordinated several multi-site studies for the lab’s web-based neurocognitive testing platform, Sarah is interested in how early life adversity, particularly within the context of stress and poverty, influences cognitive development and academic achievement. She hopes to work with low-income communities to form evidence-based, culturally sensitive interventions to foster healthy development

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Rui Yang is a first year doctoral student in the Developmental Psychology program, and she works with Prof. Niobe Way and Hirokazu Yoshikawa. After graduating from the Bilingual School Counseling master program in Steinhardt, Rui has been doing research on several research projects in the Applied Psychology department, including Resistance Among Youth (RAY) project, Chinese families research project and the Meta-analysis of Early Childhood Education. Her main research interests focus on gender socialization and adolescents’ socio-emotional development. Currently, Rui is the project coordinator of a mix-method longitudinal study conducted in Nanjing, China.