Staff Directory

Our Team

Trauma-Free NYC is composed of Columbia faculty members from different schools including Psychology, Neuroscience, Public Health, Teachers College, Journalism and Psychiatry.

  • Trauma-Free NYC Co-Director

    Professor of Population and Family Health

    Columbia University Medical Center

    Director of Child, Adolescent and Family Health Certificate

    Virginia Rauh, ScD, has been a member of Columbia's faculty since 1984 and is Deputy Director of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health. Her postdoctoral work in psychiatric epidemiology was supported by NIMH and a career development award from NICHD. Her work focuses on the adverse impact of exposure to air pollutants, including second hand smoke and pesticides on pregnancy and child health, and the susceptibility of individuals and disadvantaged populations to environmental hazards. Dr. Rauh is a perinatal epidemiologist by training, whose expertise is in the area of low birth weight and preterm delivery, particularly with respect to socioeconomically disadvantaged and minority populations. She has been principal investigator on numerous major research projects, including studies of the impact of organophosphorus insecticides and secondhand smoke on child neurodevelopment and brain abnormalities (MRI, fMRI), a randomized intervention trial for low birth weight infants, a multi-site study of lifestyles in pregnancy, a study of developmental outcomes of children born to inner-city adolescent mothers, a multi-level analysis of the impact of Head Start on New York City school children, a study of the effects of ambient air pollutants on pregnant women and their children, and a study of links between race, stressors, and preterm birth. She has worked with other Columbia faculty to study the effects of the World Trade Center disaster on pregnant women and newborns. Dr. Rauh serves on numerous national committees, including advisory groups at NIEHS, NICHD, and the Scientific Advisory Board for the Environmental Protection Agency.Virginia Rauh, ScD, has been a member of Columbia's faculty since 1984 and is Deputy Director of the Columbia Center for Children's Environmental Health. Her postdoctoral work in psychiatric epidemiology was supported by NIMH and a career development award from NICHD. Her work focuses on the adverse impact of exposure to air pollutants, including second hand smoke and pesticides on pregnancy and child health, and the susceptibility of individuals and disadvantaged populations to environmental hazards. Dr. Rauh is a perinatal epidemiologist by training, whose expertise is in the area of low birth weight and preterm delivery, particularly with respect to socioeconomically disadvantaged and minority populations. She has been principal investigator on numerous major research projects, including studies of the impact of organophosphorus insecticides and secondhand smoke on child neurodevelopment and brain abnormalities (MRI, fMRI), a randomized intervention trial for low birth weight infants, a multi-site study of lifestyles in pregnancy, a study of developmental outcomes of children born to inner-city adolescent mothers, a multi-level analysis of the impact of Head Start on New York City school children, a study of the effects of ambient air pollutants on pregnant women and their children, and a study of links between race, stressors, and preterm birth. She has worked with other Columbia faculty to study the effects of the World Trade Center disaster on pregnant women and newborns. Dr. Rauh serves on numerous national committees, including advisory groups at NIEHS, NICHD, and the Scientific Advisory Board for the Environmental Protection Agency.

  • Dr. Sonali Rajan’s research is focused on identifying patterns of risk behaviors among adolescent youth; implementing and evaluating school-based health education programs; and identifying environmental-level characteristics that influence health behaviors among urban youth and communities.  In line with the approach of the “whole child”, her research embraces a comprehensive definition of “health”, recognizing that the synergy between multiple health issues and the surrounding environments together inform long-term outcomes.  For the past several years, Dr. Rajan has worked on the implementation and evaluation of health education and behavioral health initiatives aimed to mitigate youth engagement in high-risk behaviors and promote positive youth development.  She has an emerging line of research in the area of aggression and violence prevention in schools and is focused on supporting efforts aimed at reducing the presence of firearms in K-12 school settings.  

  • Associate Professor of Psychology, Department of Psychology

    Columbia University

    Nim examines brain development underlying emotional behavior in humans. Her research has highlighted fundamental changes in brain circuitry across development and the powerful role that early experiences, such as caregiving and stress, have on the construction of these circuits. She has authored over 80 journal articles and book chapters. She is a frequent lecturer both nationally and internationally on human brain and emotional development.

  • Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Education

    Teachers College, Columbia University

    As a neuroscientist and board-certified pediatrician, Kim Noble directs the Neurocognition, Early Experience and Development (NEED) lab, where she and her team study how socioeconomic inequality relates to in children's cognitive and brain development.  Her work examines socioeconomic disparities in cognitive development, as well as brain structure and function, across infancy, childhood and adolescence. She is particularly interested in understanding how early in infancy or toddlerhood such disparities develop; the modifiable environmental differences that account for these disparities; and the ways we might harness this research to inform the design of interventions. Along with a multidisciplinary team from around the country, with funding from NIH and a consortium of foundations, she is currently planning the first clinical trial of poverty reduction to assess the causal impact of income on children’s cognitive, emotional and brain development in the first three years of life. Dr. Noble received her undergraduate, graduate and medical degrees at the University of Pennsylvania, completed postdoctoral training at the Sackler Institute of Developmental Psychobiology of Weill Cornell Medical College, and completed her residency in pediatrics at Columbia University Medical Center / Morgan Stanley Children’s Hospital of New York - Presbyterian. She was awarded a 2017 Association for Psychological Science Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions. Her work linking family income to brain structure across childhood and adolescence has received worldwide attention in the popular press.

  • Katarina (Katie) Zumwalt is a second year graduate student at the Mailman School of Public Health. Originally from Canada, Katie has extensive experience working in the area of adverse childhood experiences, trauma informed care and healthy early childhood brain development. 

  • Sackler Institute Professor of Developmental Psychology (in Psychiatry)

    Columbia University Medical Center

    Dr. Gingrich and his group use a systems approach to better understand normal and abnormal brain function; in particular, the mechanisms that underlie neuropsychiatric disorders such as schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety disorders. Their goal is to understand how genetic and epigenetic factors affect behavior and intervening systems such as circuitry, anatomy, and physiology. The lab exploits the ability to genetically modify mice–either to mimic known human susceptibility factors or to use conditional gene modifications–to further investigate our hypotheses regarding circuitry and physiology. Towards that end, Dr. Gingrich is pursuing several lines of research related to the role of serotonin-signaling in the cortex. These studies have demonstrated an important role for cortical influence on behaviors related to schizophrenia and anxiety. His lab also has an active program examining the role of the neurotransmitter serotonin on the development of brain circuits that modulate affective and anxiety states. Additionally, the group has developed a mouse model of epigenetic effects of paternal age on behavior and brain function.

  • Senior Program Officer

    Trauma-Free NYC, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University

    Dr. Kassow is a research scientist and leader in the early childhood/early learning field with extensive experience on both the east and west coasts. She began her career as a special education public high school teacher in a rural, impoverished and high-risk community in upstate New York. The challenges her students faced during the years leading to their adulthoods inspired her to think deeply about the criticalness of early childhood and ask many “what if” questions about what children need in order to thrive and succeed in adulthood. Dr. Kassow went on to obtain a doctoral degree in Educational Psychology & Methodology and has dedicated her career to the well-being of children, families and communities. She has been a called upon early childhood and parenting expert by many media outlets and her publications on parent-child attachment and early literacy remain popular. Dr. Kassow previously served as the Executive Director of Strategy & Policy for the Division of Early Childhood Education at the New York City Department. She led the $524,000,000 grant application process for the expansion of Universal Pre-Kindergarten (UPK) under Mayor Bill de Blasio for the 2014-2015 school year; more than 74,000 four-year-olds across New York City were able to attend full-day UPK for free. Dr. Kassow also developed and implemented a comprehensive quality assurance system for UPK to ensure high-quality care and education for the city’s youngest learners, and she oversaw all research and evaluation activities for the Division of Early Childhood Education. She operates her own consulting firm and has been retained to work with institutions of higher education, non-profit organizations and government agencies across the country on strategic planning and evaluation activities for a range of topics from early childhood initiatives to workforce development projects. Dr. Kassow began her role with Columbia University as a Consultant in early 2016 and joined the Trauma-Free NYC team full-time in early 2019. 

  • Partner at Van Ness Feldman, LLP

    Daniel Press has provided legal and Washington representation assistance for more than 40 years to Indian tribes, Indian organizations, and companies doing business with tribes. Dan assists tribes with strengthening their tribal governments by helping them develop and implement ordinances that exercise the tribe’s sovereign authority in such areas as employment rights and labor relations. Mr. Press serves as pro bono general counsel for two national organizations, the Roundtable on Native American Trauma-Informed Initiatives and the Campaign for Trauma-Informed Policy and Practice, that assist communities apply the science on the causes and effects of historical and childhood trauma to address social and health problems in their communities. Mr. Press recently step down after serving as an adjunct professor at Columbia for the past six years.

  • Anna Cheskis Gelman and Murray Charles Gelman Professor of Epidemiology
    Chair, Department of Epidemiology

    Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health

    Dr. Branas has conducted research that extends from urban and rural areas in the US to communities across the globe, incorporating place-based interventions and human geography. He has led win-win science that generates new knowledge while simultaneously creating positive, real-world changes and providing health-enhancing resources for local communities. His pioneering work on geographic access to medical care has changed the healthcare landscape, leading to the designation of new hospitals and a series of national scientific replications in the US and other countries for many conditions: trauma, cancer, stroke, etc. His research on the geography and factors underpinning gun violence has been cited by landmark Supreme Court decisions, Congress, and the NIH Director. Dr. Branas has also led large-scale scientific work to transform thousands of vacant lots, abandoned buildings and other blighted spaces in improving the health and safety of entire communities. These are the first citywide randomized controlled trials of urban blight remediation and have shown this intervention to be a highly cost-effective solution to persistent urban health problems like gun violence. He has worked internationally on four continents and led multi-national efforts, producing extensive cohorts of developing nation scientists, national health metrics, and worldwide press coverage.

  • Bruce Shapiro is Executive Director of the Dart Center for Journalism and Trauma, a project of Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism encouraging innovative reporting on violence, conflict and tragedy worldwide. Shapiro is recipient of the International Society for Traumatic Stress Studies for "outstanding and fundamental contributions to the social understanding of trauma." 

    An award-winning reporter on human rights, criminal justice and politics, Shapiro is a contributing editor at The Nation and U.S. correspondent for Late Night Live on the Australian Broadcasting Corporation’s Radio National. He is also teaches ethics at Columbia Journalism School, where he is adjunct associate professor and Senior Advisor for Academic Affairs.  His books include Shaking the Foundations: 200 Years of Investigative Journalism in America and Legal Lynching: The Death Penalty and America's Future.

     

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