Graduate Research Assistants

Alyssa Byrne headshot Alyssa Byrne

Education – BA, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Research Interests – Children of divorce; Student and career counseling; Animal-assisted therapy; Play therapy; Evaluation and program planning; Qualitative Research

Ms. Byrne holds a BA in Psychology and a minor in Education from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Ms. Byrne gained research experience at UMass Amherst by assisting on a project about parental emotional socialization. She listened to audiotapes of parent-child interactions and coded for parental emotional socialization behaviors.

Ms. Byrne is currently pursuing a MA in Counseling with a concentration in School Counseling and will receive her master’s degree in May 2014. Upon graduation, she plans on becoming a School Counselor and hopes to help students overcome the obstacles that are standing in the way of their success. 

Ms. Byrne joined DSSERL in July 2012 as a graduate research assistant and is currently leading the qualitative data analysis for the Systems Evaluation project where she is looking for trends between low scoring evaluation plans and high scoring evaluation plans. She contributes and collaborates on project-related papers and publications and assists in supervision of undergraduate research assistants.

Office — University Hall, Room 4110
Phone — (973) 655-2049


Nadia Kwaja headshot Nadia Kwaja

Education – BA, West Virginia University

Research Interests – Child/parent attachments; Parenting; Couple’s interaction

Ms. Kwaja graduated in May 2011 with a BA in Psychology and minors in Spanish and Communication Studies from West Virginia University. During her undergraduate coursework, Ms. Kwaja interned at the Mountaineer Boys and Girls Club and assisted with research in an Adolescent Development Lab.

Ms. Kwaja is currently working towards her MA in Counseling with a concentration in Community Counseling at Montclair State University. Her future plans are to become a Licensed Professional Counselor and Marriage and Family Therapist.

Nadia Kwaja is Dr. Urban’s primary Graduate Teaching Assistant for the Family & Child Studies Department. In addition, she is actively working on research projects in the Developmental Systems Science Evaluation Research Lab (DSSERL) such as the BECOMING project.

Office — University Hall, Room 4110
Phone — (973) 655-2049


Stephanie Phelan

Education – BA, Monmouth University

Research Interests – Positive Youth Development, Developmental Psychology, Program Evaluation, Systems Science, Qualitative Methods, School Psychology, & Child Development

Stephanie Phelan holds a Bachelor’s degree in psychology from Monmouth University, where she gained research experience in ethnography and observational research by assisting on a project about children's play activities during recess in urban environments. She also completed a senior thesis on theory of mind and pretend play.

She is currently working towards a master's degree in Family and Child Studies. She plans to pursue work with children and adolescents after completing her Master’s.

Ms. Phelan began working with Dr. Urban in the Developmental Systems Science and Evaluation Research Lab as an undergraduate assistant. Since entering the master's program, she has continued assisting with research tasks, and assists with class prep. She works extensively on reviewing relevant literature for DSSERL projects, especially related to developmental systems evaluation and measure development. She has worked on coding of qualitative interview data, data entry, Netway (the evaluation cyberinfrastructure) tutorials, and Netway content analysis.

Office — University Hall, Room 4110
Phone — (973) 655-2049