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 director of Professional Development at the playLab, Cristina Medellin-Paz develops partnerships with organizations and creates research-based content to meet the needs of each community partner. 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.
Phoebe is a master student in Developmental Psychology at Columbia University. She read Land Economy at Cambridge University and worked in the investment banking industry for 4 years. She was immensely inspired by her volunteering experience at an orphanage in Hong Kong and decided to pursue a career change. She is passionate about promoting social justice and hopes to contribute to research-based practice. She is also broadly interested in how SES and inequality can shape a child’s educational and social outcomes. She is planning to pursue a graduate degree in Clinical Psychology and practice as a therapist in the future.
Alina is a junior in the Childhood Education program with a minor in Psychology at NYU. She has enjoyed working with orphans and children with disabilities in various volunteer programs. She is interested in understanding how children learn, and hopes to help minority students or students with disabilities after she graduates. She plans to pursue graduate degree in Psychology or Education in the future.