Project Team

 Alan Mendelsohn, MD    

Alan L. Mendelsohn, MD 
Principal Investigator
Associate Professor of Pediatrics and Population Health
Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics


Faculty Website     

Adriana Weisleder, PhD      

Adriana Weisleder, Ph.D.
Project Director

Adriana is a developmental psychologist and Director of the Bellevue Project for Early Language, Literacy, and Education Success in the Department of Pediatrics at NYU School of Medicine. Dr. Weisleder's research focuses on how infants' early home environments, in particular parent-child interactions, facilitate the development of language and cognitive skills that are implicated in academic achievement. Her research makes use of innovative speech analysis technology to investigate infants' natural language environments, with the goal of applying this knowledge to the development and evaluation of interventions that promote school readiness in at-risk children.

Anne Seery PhD     

Anne Seery, Ph.D.
Laboratory/Project Manager

Annie is a developmental psychologist who joined the BELLE project in August of 2014. She received her BA in psychology and mathematics from Rutgers University and her Ph.D. in human development from Boston University, where her research focused on the linguistic, cognitive, and neural development of infants and young children. In particular, she is interested in language acquisition and development in infants and children who are at risk for developmental disorders or other issues as a result of biological and environmental factors.



Benard Dreyer, MD    

Benard P. Dreyer, MD
Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics

Faculty Website 

Carolyn Cates PhD     

Carolyn Brockmeyer Cates, PhD
Research Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics

Faculty Website  

Samantha Berkule Johnson, PhD     

Samantha Berkule Johnson, PhD
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics- Division of Developmental and Behavioral Pediatrics
Assistant Professor of Psychology- Marymount Manhattan College

Faculty Website

Marymount Manhattan Website 


Suzy Tomopoulos, MD
Co-Investigator, Media Studies
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics

Faculty Website 

Catherine Tamis LeMonda     

Catherine Tamis-LeMonda, Ph.D.
Professor of Applied Psychology

Faculty Website



Harris Huberman, MD

Co-PI, Building Blocks


Research and Intervention Team



Caitlin Ford Canfield, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral Researcher

Caitlin is a developmental psychologist in the T32 Postdoctoral Fellowship program in Pediatric Primary Care Research at NYU School of Medicine. Her research focuses on how children's characteristics and environments affect their individual development. She is currently studying how stressful life circumstances affect the regulation of children's stress hormones, and how this relates to their physical and mental health, as well as their school functioning. Caitlin's long-term goals involve using her research experience to determine how interventions aimed at improving children's cognitive and emotional well-being can be tailored to meet each child's individual needs.



Jenny Arevalo
Parenting consultant/Interventionist
Bellevue Medical Center

Jenny received her BA in Psychology from New York University. She previously was a Junior Research Scientist for the NYU Center for Research on Culture, Development and Education. She has also worked as a Research Associate for the NYU School of Medicine: Belle Project. Currently, she is the Parent-Child Specialist for the Belle Project in Bellevue Hospital. She is interested in furthering her career in Psychology and continuing her work with under-resourced families, education and program development. Her interests are embedded within the family dynamic and its impacts on children's cognitive, social and emotional development. She is, especially, interested in promoting active parental engagement in children's developmental trajectories as it is related to school readiness and future academic outcomes.


Jennifer Ledesma
Parenting consultant/Interventionist
Woodhull Medical Center

Jennifer earned her BA in Psychology from Hunter College. She started her work with underprivileged families at New York University's Steinhardt Center for Research on Culture, Development and Education. She has worked as a Research Associate at the BELLE Project since 2010 and is the Parent-Child Specialist for the Belle Project in Woodhull Hospital. Her research interests include cultural differences in parenting styles and its impact on children's cognitive, social and emotional development. In addition to this she is also interested in early language development and literacy.



Caroline Raak
Research Associate

Caroline received her BS in Human Communication Sciences from Northwestern University. Her main academic focus lies in early childhood development, particularly in atypically developing and at-risk populations. She is currently completing a master's degree in Childhood Development at Sarah Lawrence College, and has been a part of the BELLE Project team since 2013. She is interested in researching different techniques and practices that would benefit families, across cultural and socioeconomic groups, in providing enriched early experiences for children in the hopes of achieving improved academic, economic, and health outcomes later in life.


Ivonne Monje
Research Associate

Ivonne Monje received a Bachelor's degree in Psychology from Hunter College, CUNY and is now pursuing her MA degree in Human Development and Social Intervention at New York University Steinhardt. She has also worked as a research assistant at NYU Child and Family Policy Center. She currently works as a research associate for the NYU School of Medicine: VIP Woodhull. Her research interests involve learning more about socio-cultural influences on development, with a focus on Latino children. She is also interested in young children's developing cognitive abilities and how these abilities are important for learning and education.


Maya Matalon
Research Associate

Maya received her BA in Psychology and Hispanic Studies from Oberlin College in 2012. She was awarded a Fulbright Fellowship to teach English at the University level, and during that time also volunteered with women from Amazon communities in the Peruvian Amazon. Maya is currently a Research Assistant at the Belle Project. She is planning on continuing her education in Public Health and Social Work, and is interested in maternal wellbeing and its intersection with parent child interaction and child development as well as working with underserved families.


Aida Custode
Research Associate/Intern

Aida is currently a Master's candidate in the Human Development & Social Intervention program at NYU. She previously worked an applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapist, addressing the needs of children with autism and/or cognitive delays. She started at the BELLE Project in December 2013. Her research interests include immigrant families and the experiences that promote school-readiness as well as the development of interventions to close the achievement gap in education.