As director of the playLab, Professor Astuto creates “spaces of reflection” for team members to explore their role as a community-based researcher. The core pillars of her mentoring approach involves addressing issues of social justice, power and privilege which emerge through scientific inquiry, as well as focusing on strong work ethics and productivity. With Professor Astuto’s support, the team works passionately and collectively towards the goals of the playLab while having fun along the way.
As a Research Affiliate at playLabNYU and adjunct professor, Cristina Medellin-Paz collaborates on research projects and supports the professional development needs of our community partners. As a developmental psychologist, her work focuses on school readiness and culturally relevant educational opportunities for ethnically and linguistically diverse young children living in an urban context. Her research interests center on identifying effective teaching strategies that support bilingual children in early childhood classrooms through play. Rather than focusing on the gaps in school readiness, her work takes a strengths-based approach to examine the role of context and culture in understanding how development unfolds within different settings. Through her professional development work, she applies a critical lens to identify and promote social justice.
Katie is a second year Masters student in the Human Development and Social Intervention program at NYU. She is interested in how ethnic identity and socialization influence civic engagement for immigrants, as well as the role teacher professional development can play in transforming classroom settings. Upon graduation, she plans on working in a community-based setting and possibly pursuing a Ph.D in developmental psychology.
Josette recently graduated from the honors program at Providence College with a B.A. in Psychology. She is interested in investigating and improving the educational experiences of children of all socioeconomic backgrounds and abilities. She plans to soon pursue a Ph.D. in school or developmental psychology.
Christopher is a senior at Hunter College working towards a major in Human Biology and a minor in Psychology on the pre-medical track. He has enjoyed working with children with disabilities in classrooms to assist teachers in delivering their lessons. He became very interested in the field of education from observing the relationship between health and education, during his time volunteering at a public health organization abroad. Currently, he is an early childhood coach in training at the playLab providing support to early childhood teachers in our new University-Community-based Partnership with East Harlem Block Nursery. After he graduates, he plans to attend medical school to become a physician and possibly pursue a graduate degree in Public Health.
Bryan is a first-generation Mexican American college student majoring in Psychology at Hunter College. He is interested in working with children with special needs, particularly with behavioral, emotional, and developmental challenges. Currently, he is an early childhood coach in training at the playLab providing support to early childhood teachers in our new University-Community-based Partnership with East Harlem Block Nursery. He plans on pursuing a graduate degree in Clinical Psychology in the future.