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Joseph Lao

Ph.D., Teacher's College, Columbia University Lao

 

Department of Psychology
Hunter College, Room 738N
695 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10065
Tel: (212) 396-6173
Email: jrl19@columbia.edu

 

Brief Biography

I was born and raised in New York State. Most of my childhood was spent in Long Island and, with the exception of a brief stint in the US Army Reserves, I have lived in New York City since my adolescence.  I received my B.A. in Psychology from Long Island University.  

Ever since I began my graduate studies I have been interested in human development.  I am fascinated with the nature of development, and have dedicated my professional career to studying this.  For a while, I worked with Michael Lewis, Jeannie Brooks-Gunn, and Nathan Fox at the Institute for the Study of Exceptional Children, at Roosevelt Hospital in New York City.  I believe this is where the research bug bit me.  I remember one night when, after about two weeks of coding and entering data about infant visual attention, I finally finished entering the data at about 4:00 in the morning.  I couldn't bear to go home and wait until I came back at 9:00 am to begin running the analyses, and so decided to begin right then and there.  By about 6:00 am the sun was starting to rise and the first results of our study of preterm infants were churning out of the computer.   I was the first human to glimpse the results of our study of whether nature or nuture is a better predictor of preterm infant development.

Since then I completed my 
M.A., M.Phil., and Ph.D. degrees at Teachers College, Columbia University, under the able guidance of Deanna Kuhn.  It is said that the disciple honors his master by surpassing him.  Although it is extremely unlikely I will ever surpass Dr. Kuhn's achievements (she has made many wonderful contributions to the study of cognitive development) I am truly honored to be in the same profession as she is and will probably dedicate the rest of my life to improving my own understanding of human development and nurturing the development of others.  

During the past few years, I have dedicated a great deal of time and effort to establishing and nurturing a Not-for-Profit oganization by the name of Accelerated Development Center Inernational (or just ADC International).  Our central concern is with the nature and nurture of expertise.  My work here reflects my belief that much of human development is characterized by the acquisition of skills, or expertise.  And, since we had to start somewhere, we decided to begin our work with the study of what is arguably the most important area of skill for humanity, i.e., parenting skills.  If we can understand parenting skills, and especially how to improve them, then perhaps we can make a positive contribution to humanity.  More information about this organization is available elsewhere on this site and especially at www.adcinternational.org.

For me, it is not enough to just formulate theories (though this is extremely important).  I believe that as a member of the human community I also have a responsibility to help others.  I am doing this as a Member of the Board of Directors of the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center (a Not-for-Profit community organization serving the needs of the children and seniors in the Amsterdam Houses, near Lincoln Center) and of the Bronx Community Health Network (a Not-for-Profit organization running seven hospitals/clinics in the Bronx).  In addition, I have recently joined the Committee on the Family in the Congress of Nongovernment Organizations.  We are a consultative body working collaboratively with the United Nations to better understand and nurture the development of family members.

Most recently, I have begun working on a parenting website (www.parentingliteracy.com) intended to help parents.  This web site is built upon the assumption that parenting literacy consists greatly in knowing facts about child development and how best to handle child rearing problems.  Accordingly, this site provides useful information for parents about a broad range of topics, including answers to frequently asked questions, discussion boards pertaining to issues that parents find import, links to other useful sites, and
a newsletter.  More information about this site may be obtained elsewhere on this site or especially at www.parentingliteracy.com.