Training Area in Human Development, The Graduate Center

Student Profiles

Dennis Bublitz
Kelly Conover
Juliana Karras-Jean Gilles
Aysenur Ataman
Rita Obeid
Jeremy Sawyer
Ralitsa Todorova
Francis Yannaco
Lauren M. Gardner
Emily Hotez
Anna Schwartz
Christina Shane-Simpson
Jon Taylor
Patrick Bryers
Danielle DeNigris
Tia Fletcher
Philip Kreniske
Peri Ozlem Yuksel-Sokmen
Kristal Haynes
Svetlana Jovic
Emily Dow
Christina Kirkman
Chana Etengoff

Dennis Bublitz

Dennis Bublitz

MA, General Psychology, Hunter College

Year Matriculated: 2013
Email: dbublitz@gc.cuny.edu
Hometown: Baton Rouge, LA

Research Background: My MA thesis was supervised by Dr. Sandeep Prasada; we investigated the normative dimension of concepts. We expect normal instances of kinds of things to have certain properties, perhaps because the properties are understood as being beneficial. We ran a series of experiments which examined this possibility using various statements focusing on the normative aspect of the properties. This research is the first to investigate the basis of normative expectations in concepts and suggests at least two bases for them

After using language to study concepts, I started to explore language acquisition with Dr. Patricia Brooks. Our research looked at possible factors involved in perceiving novel speech sounds, including sex, prior knowledge of foreign languages, tasks of temporal processing, and scores on a music test looking at tone and rhythm. Specifically, this indicated built upon work investigating the relationship between musical ability and speech perception.

Areas of Interest: My current work involves the design and implementation of an intervention program which assists college age students with ASD make successful transitions to college and into the workforce. As the students move from an often highly structured background to college, the need for self-advocacy, independence, and organizational skills is paramount. We are utilizing a participatory action peer mentor model to provide the scaffolding they need to have a productive college experience.

Kelly Conover

Kelly Conover

BA, Communications, The Pennsylvania State University
MSW, Fordham University

Year Matriculated: 2013
Email: kconover@gc.cuny.edu
Hometown: Glen Mills, PA

Research Background: Kelly is interested in understanding the self-regulation process in adolescents and its relation to academic achievement. She is also interested in looking at how trauma and family dynamics influence self-regulation skills. Her research interests stem from her work with adolescents as a clinician and a program and data coordinator for a Robin Hood Foundation funded clinical and life skills program.

Areas of Interest: Self-regulation, trauma, academic achievement, youth development, parent-child relationships

Juliana Karras Jean Gilles

Juliana Karras-Jean Gilles

BA, Psychology, Point Loma Nazarene University, San Diego
MA, Applied Psychology, New York University Steinhardt

Year Matriculated: 2013
Email: jkarras_jean_gilles@gc.cuny.edu
Hometown: San Diego, California

Research Background: The past three years Juliana has worked with the Child and Family Policy Center at NYU Steinhardt. At the center she has worked primarily with a longitudinal randomized controlled trial evaluation of a school readiness home visitation intervention that serves families with 2-4 year olds, which began in 2010. Currently she is working on the follow-up to this original project. She has also worked with The Leadership Program to conduct a mixed methods investigation that identified factors that contributed to increased attendance at school-based workshops in a parent engagement program serving thousands of NYC parents. Her research interests include: (1) early childhood development within the context of low-income, urban settings; (2) developing community-based early childhood programs using a participatory approach from development to implementation and evaluation; (3) and the integration of developmental, biological psychology, and applied psychology research.

Areas of Interest: early childhood development, culture and context, program evaluation, participatory research, and mixed methods

Aysenur Ataman

Ayşenur Ataman

BA, Counselling Psychology, Ankara University
MS, Educational Psychology, Ankara University

Year Matriculated: 2012
Email: aataman@gc.cuny.edu
Hometown: Ankara, Turkey

Research Background: Ayşenur, joining us from the rich cultural milieu of Turkey, is interested in looking at the identifications and cultural and political practices of ethnic minority/majority individuals. During her masters she worked as a research fellow in a cross-national research project funded by the European Commission under the Seventh Framework Programme entitled Processes Influencing Democratic Ownership and Participation (PIDOP). As part of the project, she worked with Roma population in Turkey. Currently, she is especially interested in the use of cross-national comparative studies to examine variability in the development of young people as a function of their specific social, political and national contexts.

Areas of Interest: Youth civic engagement, youth participation, active citizenship, ethnic identity, narrative inquiry, national and ethnic enculturation, political cognition, and civic attitudes

Rita Obeid

Rita Obeid

BA, Psychology, American University of Beirut
MA, Psychology, American University of Beirut

Year Matriculated: 2012
Email: robeid@gc.cuny.edu
Hometown: Beirut, Lebanon

Research Background: Rita’s early graduate work focused on examining coping styles and social support and how that affects the well-being of mothers of children with autism in Lebanon. Rita recently works on different studies that examine language development of children with speech and language impairments in addition to examining the efficacy of a program that mentors college students on the autism spectrum.

Areas of Interest: Autism, parent and child relations, culture, language development, and teaching research
Jeremy Sawyer

Jeremy Sawyer

BA, Psychology, Stanford University
MS Ed, School Psychology, Queens College, the City University of New York

Year Matriculated: 2012
Email: jsawyer@gc.cuny.edu
Hometown: Lawrenceville, GA

Research Background: As an undergraduate, Jeremy assisted in research on cognitive patterns in shyness at the Stanford Shyness Clinic. During his Master’s program, he worked on a project that surveyed school psychologists, investigating the ways that they collaborate with interpreters to support linguistically diverse students and families. Jeremy is currently developing a project to investigate the relationship between children’s motivation and their use of self-directed, private speech.

Areas of Interest: Vygotskian approaches to early childhood development and education; cultural-historical activity theory; communication and cognition; social class and psychology; psychology of activism; transformative activist stance (TAS); time perspectives; the evolution/development of cooperative behavior

Ralitsa Todorova

Ralitsa Todorova

BA, Psychology, Clark University

Year Matriculated: 2012
Email: rtodorova@gc.cuny.edu
Hometown: Topsfield, MA

Research Background: Ralitsa is concerned with questions of adolescent and young adult development of sense of self, especially among underserved populations. She is also working on a narrative analysis project with Roma Pedagogical Assistants with her advisor, Colette Daiute. Ralitsa’s interests have also crossed into clinical research through her work at Women & Infants Hospital in Providence, RI on the prevention and treatment of post-partum depression among low-income women. During her undergraduate career, she examined college students’ identity development through small stories analysis.

Areas of Interest: Adolescence, narrative inquiry and qualitative methods, inequality, poverty, identity development.

Francis Yannaco

Francis Yannaco

BA, Psychology, Hunter College, the City University of New York

Year Matriculated: 2012
Email: fyannaco@gc.cuny.edu
Hometown: Westchester, New York

Research Background: Francis started out in human research in projects concerned with the connection between measures of social cognition and early indicators of autism. His early graduate work focused on ethnic identity development in college students. Most recently he has worked on a project exploring predictors of suicidal ideation among NYC college students.

Areas of Interest: Children’s rights, learning simulations and games, ethical and moral decision-making, ethnic identity

Lauren M. Gardner

Lauren M. Gardner

LMSW, Fordham University
BA, Vanderbilt University

Year Matriculated: 2011
Certificate Program: Women & Gender Studies Certificate
Email: lgardner@gc.cuny.edu
Hometown: Queens, NY; Cleveland, OH

Research Background: Lauren’s work is focused on understanding how urban youth of color construct and expand upon tools of hip hop dance as a historical discourse of critical consciousness to develop, and embody an activist stance. Furthermore, her work seeks to understand the affordances of Hip Hop dance and how Hip Hop dance choreography is utilized as a tool for transformation. Lauren is a Licensed Master of Social Work (LMSW) in New York, has an MSW degree from Fordham University with a concentration in Research, and a Bachelors degree in English and Film studies from Vanderbilt University.

Areas of Interest: Developmental Psychology, civic engagement, critical consciousness, dance as discourse, urban arts education, identity development, multimodality, Black feminisms, narrative analysis, and Hip Hop Psychology (www.hiphoppsychology.org).

Emily Hotez

Emily Hotez

BA, Psychology, The George Washington University

Year Matriculated: 2011
Email: ehotez@gc.cuny.edu
Hometown: Washington, DC

Research Background: Emily’s current research focuses on the ways in which to improve screening and referral practices for autism spectrum disorder among pediatricians serving low resource communities in NYC. She is interested in understanding predictors of families’ early intervention service utilization. Emily is also investigating the factors that predict the efficacy of a parent-mediated intervention for toddlers at high-risk for autism spectrum disorder.

Areas of Interest: Autism Spectrum Disorder; Early Intervention Services; Low-Resource Communities; Parent-Mediated Interventions; Responsive Parental Behaviors

Anna Schwartz

Anna Schwartz

BA, Archaeology. Boston University

Year Matriculated: 2011
Email: aschwartz2@gc.cuny.edu
Hometown: Brookline, MA

Research Background: Anna’s early graduate work has focused on eye tracking, language processing and cognitive development of executive control. Prior to beginning at CUNY she was a research assistant studying language acquisition and cognitive abilities in animals. She is interested in the relationship between word and language acquisition and the figurative concepts that are used in language.

Areas of Interest: language acquisition, semantics, figurative language and metaphor, adult language learning, bilingualism, language and thought, executive function, attention and memory as substrates of language performance, language and cultural evolution.

Christina Shane-Simpson

Christina Shane-Simpson

BS, Psychology, Grand Valley State University
MSW, Grand Valley State University

Year Matriculated: 2011
Certificate Program: Registered for the Certificate for Interactive Technology and Pedagogy
Email: cshane_simpson@gc.cuny.edu
Hometown: Grand Rapids, Michigan

Research Background: On a very broad level, Christina explores the dynamic interactions that occur between humans through computer-mediated environments. Used mixed methodology, her current research examines how typically developing students and students with Autism use social media networks for communication and connection. Christina is also creating a technology-based intervention that can be used to assist students with Autism to effectively navigate social media networks.

Areas of Interest: Computer-Human Interaction, Technology Use by Students with Autism Spectrum Disorders, Self-Esteem and Motivation for Computer Use, Processes and Modes of Cyberbullying, Individual Understanding of Traumatic Experience, and Societal Perceptions of Domestic Violence

Jon Taylor

Jon Taylor

BA Harvard College, Social Relations 1971
MS Yale University, Developmental Psychology 1975

Year Matriculated: 2011
Email: jontaylor5819@gmail.com
Hometown: Larchmont, NY

Currently I am interested in studying the Specialized High School Admission Test the criterion employed by NY City to admit students to its elite public high schools. Admissions to these schools, which include Stuyvesant and Bronx Science has been controversial because of the disproportionate representation by gender and ethnicity. It is plausible that the scoring procedures of this exam may contribute to this disproportion. Surprisingly, the SHSAT has never been validated.

Areas of Interest: I am interested in the use of evidence-based research to influence public policy decisions in the area of urban education. My second year research project was an evaluation of an I Have a Dream Program in Miami. IHAD is a national intervention offering a program of enrichment, tutoring, social services, and college tuition. Its most important contribution may be that it gives youth hope. The evaluation reported gains on state achievement tests as well as on a measure of hope.

Patrick bryers

Patrick Byers

BA, Psychology, Clark University

Year Matriculated: 2010
Email: pbyers@gc.cuny.edu
Hometown: Cazenovia, NY

Research Background: Patrick’s initial work in psychology focused on children’s developing knowledge of number and mathematics. Currently, his work focuses on ‘knowledge’ as a word that functions as a psychological tool that is used for positioning and sense making. His underlying interest is in exploring possibilities for cultural-psychological approaches to lead to new ways of relating materialistic and phenomenological discourses in psychology. In addition to this work, Patrick does research on children’s media at the Michael Cohen Group.

Areas of Interest: cultural psychology, social representation, semiotics, discursive psychology, epistemology, mathematical thinking, children’s media, embodied cognition

Danielle DeNigris

Danielle N. DeNigris

B.A., Psychology, Gettysburg College

Year Matriculated: 2010
Email: ddenigris@gc.cuny.edu
Hometown: Colts Neck, NJ

Research Background: Danielle’s early research experience focused on parent-child autobiographical memory conversations in children with Autism Spectrum Disorders.  Currently she is extending this work to examine gender differences in the development and sharing of past events.  Another line of research concerns the teaching of psychology and ways to foster student participation and engagement in large lecture halls.

Areas of Interest: autobiographical memory development; parent-child relations; teaching of psychology; student engagement

Tia Fletcher

Latifa T. Fletcher ‘Tia’

MA, Forensic Psychology, John Jay College of Criminal Justice
BA, Psychology and Dance, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

Year Matriculated: 2010
Email: lfletcher@gc.cuny.edu
Hometown: New York, New York

Research: Tia’s current research focuses on how young black adults ascribe meaning to their early childhood experiences and how family configuration plays a role in adult identity construction. Tia is also a Pinkerton Fellow at the John Jay College’s Research and Evaluation Center and an adjunct lecturer at Brooklyn College. Previously, she was a researcher at the Child Study Center at New York University and an intern in the human rights clinic with Doctors of the World USA

Areas of Interest: Black studies, Latino Studies, Identity, Memory, Family studies, Narrative Inquiry, Sociocultural theory, Cultural Historic Activity Theory, Transformative Action Stance

Philip Kreniske

Philip Kreniske

M. Phil. Human Development, Psychology, The Graduate Center, 2013
M.A. Human Development, Psychology, The Graduate Center, 2013
M.S. Ed. TESOL, Lehman College, CUNY, 2007
B.A., Oberlin College, History and Creative Writing, 2004

Year Matriculated: 2010
Certificate Program: Certificate Program: Interactive Technology and Pedagogy
Emailpkreniske@gc.cuny.edu
Hometown: NYC

Research Background: Philip’s interest in psychology stems from five years teaching in high needs public schools in San Francisco and New York. In addition, Philip taught English and conducted pilot research in the San village of Tsumkwe, Namibia.

Areas of interest: Philip’s recent work focuses on the intersection of technology and education with a particular emphasis on writing in digital contexts. In addition, Philip is co-chair for the Center for the Humanities Narrating Change seminar where he runs the blog, Narrating Change. He also maintains a personal blog where he shares what he’s reading, writing and seeing around New York City.

Peri Ozlem Yuksel-Sokmen

Peri Ozlem Yuksel-Sokmen

BA, Language Acquisition and Cognitive Psychology, CUNY Baccalaureate for Unique and Interdisciplinary Studies, New York
MA, Psychology, CUNY The Graduate Center, New York

Year Matriculated: 2010
Email: oyuksel_sokmen@gc.cuny.edu
Hometown: Berlin, Germany

Research Background: Ozy collaborated with the Infant Studies Unit at the New York State Institute for Basic Research in Developmental Disabilities (IBR). Here, she explored how perinatal risk factors (e.g., multiple gestation, low birth-weight, neurological damage) impacted the development of language outcomes. Her current research examines cultural routines within a community that is experiencing language loss. She conducts field research at the Black Sea in Turkey to collect data from Lazuri speakers for her dissertational topic on social change.

Areas of Interest: language socialization, language games (Wittgenstein), social interaction, cultural variation in learning environments, natural pedagogy, social change, data visualization, endangered language: Lazuri

Kristal Haynes

Kristal Haynes

BS, Psychology, Messiah College

Year Matriculated: 2009
Emailkhaynes@gc.cuny.edu
Hometown: Walden, NY

Research Background: Kristal is broadly focused on developmental intergroup relations and youth civic engagement.  She is currently researching how children evaluate interracial social exclusion under the direction of Dr. Martin Ruck.  Her study focuses on the development of stereotype consciousness in minority youth.  During her first year at the Graduate Center, Kristal worked as the lead research assistant on The PAPAYA Project, a study funded by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and led by Dr.Kevin Nadal of John Jay College, CUNY.  This project examined the physical activity and mental health of Filipino American Youth.  She was also able to assist Dr.Nadal in examining the experience of racial microaggressions for the Filipino American Community.

Areas of Interest: Developmental intergroup relations, youth civic engagement, prejudice studies, stereotype and stigma consciousness, pedagogy research

Svetlana Jović

Svetlana Jović

M.Phil, Psychology, The Graduate Center, 2013
B.A. & M.A., Psychology, University of Belgrade, Belgrade, Serbia, 2007

Year Matriculated: 2009
Emailsjovic@gc.cuny.edu
Hometown: Belgrade, Serbia

Research Background: Svetlana has a rich international experience in youth civic engagement work, which substantially informed her academic interests. Some of her previous research explored psychosocial characteristics of development-inhibiting and development-promoting environments in lives of the inner-city youth. She also studied the developmental potential of community youth organizations. Svetlana’s current research explores the ways in which socioeconomic and racial/ethnic background predisposes young people to seeing the world, and other people in it, as more or less just and trustworthy. In addition, as a co-chair for the Center for the Humanities Narrating Change seminar, and a Writing Fellow at Bronx Community College, Svetlana is exploring the developmental and pedagogical benefits of inviting and validating students’ alternative discursive skills in the context of formal education.

Areas of Interest: Urban youth development, individual-society interaction, effects of social class on human development, narrating and narrative inquiry, hegemonic vs. alternative discursive/expressive skills, community youth organizing.

Emily A A Dow

Emily A. A. Dow

MA, Applied Psychology, Teachers College, Columbia University
Year Matriculated: 2008
Email: edow@gc.cuny.edu
Hometown: Teaneck, NJ

Research Background: Emily’s background is in Psychology with an interest in education. She is primarily interested in the application of developmental theory to educational practices and settings. She previously worked with Dr. Deborah Vietze to development a measure of power in teacher-student relationships. Currently, she is working with Dr. Roseanne Flores at Hunter College. Using data from Head Start programs, Emily and Dr. Flores are trying to better understand social-emotional development in early childhood. Specifically, they are identifying parental factors that contribute to social-emotional development in children who grow up in poverty.

Areas of Interest: Applied Developmental Theory to Educational Practices, Early Childhood Education, Teacher-student Relationships, Assessment Strategies, Statistics and Research Methods, Exceptional Children
Christina Kirkman

Christina Kirkman Koplik

BA, Psychology & Italian, Georgetown University
MA, Developmental Psychology, Columbia University
ABD, PhD program in Human Development, the Graduate Center, CUNY

Year Matriculated: 2008
Email: KirkmanC@gmail.com
Hometown: New York City, New York

Research Background: My research experience began after my graduation from Georgetown, and upon deciding to forgo law school: I worked for two years as a research assistant in the lab of Dr. Suniya Luthar at Teachers College, Columbia University, investigating processes of risk, resilience, socialization, and decision-making in childhood and adolescence. I subsequently worked for two years at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, under Dr. Myrna Weissman, in the departments of Human Development and Genetic Epidemiology. I currently conduct research in the CUNY Child Development Lab, under Dr. Sarah Berger, where my work focuses on our understandings of executive function, cognitive control, resource allocation and mechanisms of developmental change as they are shaped by context and our means of measurement & methods of analysis.

Areas of Interest: Executive function, decision-making, self-regulation, and cognitive control in context; the promotion of psychological science and research in informing policy, education, and programs of prevention and intervention

Symposia, Papers, and Posters

Kirkman, C.J., & Berger, S.E. (2013). Methods used in assessing behavioral variability in tasks of inhibition. Poster session presented at the 2013 Society for the Study of Human Development Biennial Meeting, Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Kirkman, C.J., & Berger, S.E. (2013). Behavioral variability and vocalizations in tasks of inhibition in early childhood. Poster session presented at the 2013 Cognitive Development Society Biennial Meeting, Memphis, Tennessee.

Kirkman, C.J., Hoeller, H., & Buck, A. (2013). Assessing students’ success in their college writing at the College of Staten Island. Symposium presentation at the 2013 CUNY-John Jay CUE conference, New York, NY.

Kirkman, C. & Berger, S. E. “Measuring Inhibition Through Behavioral Variability in Preschoolers and Adults”. Poster presented at the Eastern Psychological Association Conference. New York, New York, 2013.

Okorodudu, C., Chitayat, D., & Kirkman, C. (2012) Psychosocial contributions and recommendations toward the empowerment of rural women and girls. Economic and Social Council of the United Nations, Commission on the Status of Women, 56. Paper presented at the APA conference in Orlando, Florida.

Kirkman, C. & Berger, S. E. “Micro-coding Preschoolers’ Ability to Inhibit”. Poster presented at the Biennial Cognitive Development Society Meeting. Philadelphia, PA, 2011.

Alumni

Chana Etengoff

Chana Etengoff

PhD, Developmental Psychology, Graduate Center of the City University of New York
M. Phil, Psychology, Graduate Center of the City University of New York
MA, Psychology, Graduate Center of the City University of New York

Year Matriculated: 2007
Email: cetengoff@barnard.edu
Hometown: New York, NY

Research Background: Dr. Chana Etengoff’s scholarship is focused on understanding how cultural, gender and sexual minority groups navigate sociorelational prejudice and discrimination. Her work is informed by a theoretical stance that human development is a constructive process embedded in relational, sociopolitical and historical contexts. Recent projects include inquiries into how Muslim emerging adults navigate difficult intergroup relations post 9/11 and how gay emerging adults from religious backgrounds mediate familial and cultural conflicts. Current lines of research are focused on understanding the mediating role of transgender vlogs and how best to reduce minority prejudice on college campuses.

Areas of Interest: minority stress, conflict mediation and resolution, cultural historical activity theory

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