Neuroscience & Education Lab Team
Members of the Neuroscience and Education Lab (NEL) collaborate to understand the mechanisms surrounding the development of self-regulation throughout the lifespan, from infancy to adulthood.
Leadership, Staff, and Students
Clancy Blair, PhD, MPH, Principal Investigator
Dr. Clancy Blair is a developmental psychologist who studies self-regulation in young children. His primary interest concerns the development of cognitive abilities referred to as executive functions and the ways in which these aspects of cognition are important for school readiness and early school achievement. He is also interested in the development and evaluation of preschool and elementary school curricula designed to promote executive functions as a means of preventing school failure.
In 2002, Dr. Blair and his colleagues at Pennsylvania State University and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill received funding from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development for a longitudinal, population-based study of family ecology and child development beginning at birth. In his part of the project, Dr. Blair is examining interaction between early experiential and biological influences on the development of executive functions and related aspects of self-regulation. Ultimately, Dr. Blair and his colleagues plan to follow this sample through the school years and into young adulthood. Prior to coming to NYU, Dr. Blair spent ten years as an assistant and then associate professor in the department of Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State. He received his doctorate in developmental psychology and master's degree in public health from the University of Alabama at Birmingham in 1996.
Rosemarie Perry, Postdoctoral Research Scientist
Rosemarie Perry holds a BS degree from the University of Delaware in neuroscience and a PhD from NYU Grossman School of Medicine in physiology and neuroscience. As a PhD student, she worked in the lab of Dr. Regina Sullivan studying how exposure to early-life stress (particularly from an abusive caregiver) impacts the developing brain and behavior throughout the lifespan. She joined the NEL in 2016 as a postdoctoral research scientist. Her work has primarily focused on integrating human research related to the impact of poverty with a rodent model of “low resources,” which allows her to address research questions related to poverty and child outcome at multiple levels of analyses. Outside of the lab, Rosemarie is passionate about science communication to the public, and serves as vice president and a frequent speaker for a nonprofit organization, KnowScience.
Seulki Ku, Postdoctoral Fellow
Seulki’s research focuses on the development of self-regulation from early to middle childhood in the context of environmental factors, such as maternal depression and poverty, and children’s dispositional characteristics, such as temperament. Before coming to NYU, Seulki received her PhD in human development and family science at the Ohio State University. During her doctoral course, she worked with Dr. Xin Feng studying the development of preschool-age children’s executive function and emotion regulation in the family context. She also earned a specialization in Quantitative Research, Evaluation and Measurement (QREM) from Ohio State, which involved training in advanced quantitative research methods and applying the analytic skills to community and national datasets. After earning her PhD, she worked with Drs. Heather Rouse and Daniel Russell at Iowa State University examining children’s school readiness in relation to early care experiences. In addition, using state-level administrative datasets, she worked on developing integrated data systems to help at-risk children access quality early care and education services during the transition to elementary school.
Ali Bennett, Lab and Project Manager
Ali Bennett is the lab and project manager for the Family Life Project in the Neuroscience and Education Lab. Ali received a BA in psychology from Dickinson College and a master’s degree in public health from Boston University, where she concentrated in maternal and child health. Prior to joining the NEL team, Ali served for AmeriCorps as a literacy tutor within a Texas elementary school. She also held the role of research assistant on a study examining the relationship of youth female athleticism and risk-taking behaviors at the Cambridge Health Alliance located in the Greater Boston Area. In another role, Ali served as a research assistant in the Women’s Health Unit at Boston Medical Center looking at the effects of the implementation of a dense breast notification policy on healthcare decision-making. Ali's professional interests include exploring the intersection of health and education; the effects of chronic stress on the development of health outcomes; and more broadly, adolescent, women's and behavioral health, all with specific consideration to vulnerable and marginalized populations.
Rivka Narvekar, Senior Financial Manager
Rivka Narvekar is the senior research financial manager for the Family Life Project. She studied medicine focusing on psychiatric illnesses during her undergraduate years in Mumbai, India, before coming to New York to study psychology at NYU. She graduated in 2016 with an MA in psychology after completing a thesis on the influence of self-esteem and racial and ethnic regard on electoral participation. While at NYU, Rivka worked as a research assistant in the Applied Psychology Department at Steinhardt, where she investigated civic engagement and education in youth. She also held a position at the NYU Metro Center for Research on Equity and the Transformation of Schools where she performed several program functions including budget administration, contract management, proposal writing, database management, and program publicity.
Danielle Khalife, Data Manager
Danielle Khalife is the data manager for the Family Life Project. She received her master’s in public health in epidemiology and biostatistics from CUNY School of Public Health, and is interested in using her statistical and analytic skills to understand how structural inequalities affect life outcomes. While in her master’s program, she studied the effects of race, gender, socioeconomic status, and their intersection on mental health outcomes. Prior to her current role, she worked as a data coordinator for tobacco cessation research at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center.
Charlotte Kurz, Research Coordinator
Charlotte Kurz is the research coordinator for the Family Life Project. Charlotte received a BS in human development from Binghamton University and a master’s in public health from New York University, with a concentration in community health science and practice. Prior to joining the NEL, Charlotte worked as an assistant research coordinator at Maimonides Medical Center, where she supervised a participatory action research study on community health in multi-generational immigrant populations in Southwest Brooklyn. Charlotte’s professional interests include breaking down mental health stigma through advocacy and open dialogue, improving access to behavioral health resources, and reducing health disparities in communities.
Stephen Braren, Doctoral Student
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. In the NEL, 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.
Annie Aitken, Doctoral Student
Annie Aitken is a doctoral student in NYU’s Department of Developmental Psychology. In the NEL, Annie is broadly interested in coupling biological and behavioral assessment methods to explore the impact of early childhood experiences on executive functioning and academic achievement. As a National Science Fellow, Annie aims to incorporate EEG methods in her research to better understand the relationship between socioeconomic status and academic achievement and to ultimately inform intervention methods. Before attending NYU, Annie worked in developmental cognitive neuroscience research at UC San Francisco. Annie graduated magna cum laude with a BS in psychology from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo.
Sarah Vogel, Doctoral Student
Sarah Vogel is a doctoral student in the Developmental Psychology program at NYU Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development. She graduated magna cum laude from the University of Rochester in 2016, where she received her BA in psychology and french. There, she did research with Dr. Patrick Davies and Dr. Catherine Cerulli studying family- and community-level processes that contribute to development. Prior to attending NYU, Sarah spent two years working as a research assistant and lab manager for Dr. Laura Germine at McLean Hospital and Harvard Medical School, where she managed participant communication and coordinated several multi-site projects for an online neuropsychology laboratory called TestMyBrain.org. In the NEL, Sarah is interested in cognitive development in the context of social and economic adversity, and individual-level factors that may promote resilience in these contexts.