Mel Ciena

Mel Ciena

Adjunct Professor of Developmental Psychology

Kalmanovitz Hall G36


Dr. Mel Ciena is a New Yorker who has been teaching at the University of San Francisco since 1991. He has been honored with the Distinguished Lecturer Award twice, the Dean's College Service Award, and the Sister Vickie Sui Award for outstanding Service all at the University of San Francisco.

Dr. Ciena is multilingual in French, English, and Spanish. His research interests include motivation and orientation in second and third language acquisition and how children learn from a cognitive and brain based point of view. He is also a professional DJ, and has worked for Bill Clinton, Elizabeth Taylor, Gavin Newsom, and Willie Brown.

Research Areas

  • Motivation and orientation in second language acquisition
  • How children learn from a cognitive and brain based point of view


  • Member of the PTFA policy Board for a five year period


  • Stanford University, MA and Ph.D in Psych Studies and Developmental Psychology, 1998
  • California State University, San Jose, BA and MA in Experimental Psychology, 1974

Prior Experience

  • I have learned from several great minds in psychology, including Jane Goodall, Penny Patterson, Albert Bandura and Dr. Eleanor Maccoby. These experiences have given me insights to share with my students to broaden their understanding of the field.

Awards & Distinctions

  • American Association of University Professors

  • Child Development Consortium, Washington, D.C.

  • Distinguished Lecturer Award 1997/98, University of San Francisco

  • Distinguished Lecture Award 2012 University of San Francisco

  • Sister Vickie Sui Award for outstanding Service 2013, University of San Francisco

  • Keynote Speaker Oxman College Graduation 2009

  • Outstanding Instructor 1986/87, San Jose City College

  • Hall of Fame 1987, San Jose City College

  • National Science Foundation, Stanford Fellow

  • College Service Award 2001, University of San Francisco

  • Phi Delta Kappa, Stanford Fellow

Selected Publications

  • Authored: Ciena, M. Parental Attitude/Behavior: Student Workbook for Discussion Groups, San Jose City College Press, 1984

  • Authored: Ciena, M. A Glossary of Development and Overview of Developmental States and Theories. California Publishing Co., 1980

  • Helped Edit: Bee, H. The Development Child, 3rd Edition. Harper and Row Publishers, 1980 

  • Helped Edit: Bee, H. Lifespan Development, 2nd Edition, Harper/Collins, 1996 

  • PBS TV 36: “Naked in Yankee Stadium”. Produced, edited and starred in national T.V. broadcast on coping with life threatening illness. This video is used at various medical centers and The American Cancer Society for training doctors, nurses, and newly diagnosed cancer patients.

  • In Progress: Text Book: Ciena, M. Lifespan Development, Conception Through Old Age. Target date: September, 2022

  • In Progress: Ciena, M. “Black Slacks”. The life of a young boy who moves to New York City from Montana. Target date: December, 2022

  • In Progress: Developing a course on Music and the Brain