Bao Moua, research administrator, and the research lab staff of Bonny Donzella, Lea Neumann, and Tori Simenec in the Gunnar Lab at the Institute of Child Development, organized a Career Day for students at the Brooklyn Center IB World School recently. Moua was contacted by school staff in hopes that she might be able to assist students in the Get Ready Program by letting them shadow her in her work in the lab. “I wanted to show the students there’s other non-traditional options in the medical, science, or health field that they can explore.”
From there, the lab staff decided to set up a Career Day with students from the World School. Students came to the Center for Neurobehavioral Development and spent about an hour and a half learning about how the Gunnar Lab conducts its research. The students were split into groups and then rotated among 3 stations to see demonstrations. Students learned about the Trier Social Stress Test and how it makes a person’s body feel and the ethics of challenge, specifically voluntary participation. They were also shown how the lab collects saliva samples. Then students were shown the Bod Pod machine (and could also experience being in it), which measures body mass using air displacement, and then shown how it’s used to learn about physical growth of children. Finally, the students learned about the EEG hat and brain activity. They were able to help with the EEG hat sensors and see what brain waves look like compared to muscle movement. The lab members also talked about what positions they held in the lab, how they trained for this job or position, and what education they needed to do this kind of work. The Get Ready program prepares 5th – 12th graders for college and makes students aware of various Twin Cities college campuses and career choices. The Get Ready Program works with St. Paul, Minneapolis, and Brooklyn Center schools with underrepresented populations and low-income families.
Serena Wright, in the dean’s office, donated CEHD bags, lanyards, and an ID wallet. “The students were very enthusiastic about the demonstrations and also loved the CEHD swag!” Moua said.
Ross Thompson, teaching specialist at the Shirley G. Moore Lab School at the Institute of Child Development, talks about the importance of high-quality play in helping children grow their abilities and skills across several areas of development in an interview in the fall issue of Play, Policy, & Practice Connections. PPPConnections is published by the Play, Policy, & Practice Interest Forum of the National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC).
High-quality play in the preschool classroom is a valuable tool in helping children develop emotional, social, physical, and creative skills. Once a child begins to develop these skills, they have a base to develop cognitive skills, Thompson says. Thompson gives several examples of the expansive nature of high-quality play in the classroom. In one instance, a dramatic story that started with two children as seals expanded to include most of the class in many roles. As Thompson puts it, “The exuberance of this new play-theme intrigued many of the other children, and by the following week, nearly the entire class became part of the seal play. Seals later turned in to penguins, which then turned into zoos, which ended up fueling our dramatic play stories for most of our fall session.” Thompson is helping children build skills for the long run, and, as he puts it: “A goal of my preschool classroom is to help every child leave with skills that will help them interact with, question, discover, and be excited about the world that surrounds them! Play is the best vehicle to help children do exactly that!”
You may read the entire interview in Play, Policy, & Practice Connections.
Thompson’s interview also appears in the summer 2015/16 issue of The Space Magazine, a quarterly newsletter of The Childspace Institute in Wellington, New Zealand. Childspace is an educational organization committed to improving Early Childhood Education provision and practices through early childhood education courses, workshops & conferences.
Jena Doom, doctoral student at the Institute of Child Development, has been awarded a 2015 American Psychological Association (APA) Dissertation Research Award. The award, sponsored by the Science Directorate of APA, is given annually to encourage excellence in dissertation research in psychological science by assisting science-oriented doctoral students of psychology with research costs. Doom is currently conducting research for her dissertation, When Parents Become Ineffective Stress Buffers, Do Peers Step In? and her work has also received a Dissertation Research Grant in Developmental Psychology from APA’s Division 7, which represents developmental psychologists.
Dante Cicchetti, McKnight Presidential Chair and William Harris Professor of Child Psychology and Psychiatry at the Institute of Child Development, was officially inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences on October 10, 2015. The induction ceremony took place at Harvard University in Cambridge, Massachusetts. Longtime friends, colleagues, and current Academy members Dick Aslin, William R. Kenan Professor of Brain and Cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester, and Howard Gardner, Hobbs Professor of Cognition and Education at Harvard Graduate School of Education, were present to congratulate and welcome Cicchetti into the Academy as a member of the 2015 class.
The Chair of the Academy’s Board of Directors, Don Randel, welcomed the members: “We are honored to include these inductees in our Book of Members. They have demonstrated not only excellence in their fields, but also a commitment to serving society through their accomplishments.” This was the 235th time the Academy of Arts and Sciences has inducted a new class of members.
The American Academy of Arts and Sciences is one of the nation’s most prestigious honorary societies and is a leading center for independent policy research. Established in 1780, the Academy serves the nation as a champion of scholarship, civil dialogue, and useful knowledge.
There were two other University of Minnesota faculty members inducted to the Academy with Cicchetti as noted in the UMN Driven to Discover News here.
Megan Gunnar, Regent’s Professor and Director at the Institute of Child Development, will be the plenary speaker at the Australasian Marcé Society for Perinatal Mental Health 2015 Conference in Adelaide Australia Oct 22-24, 2015. The biennial meeting’s theme this year is Stresses, Outcomes, Solutions: working in perinatal mental health.
The Marcé Society is named after Louis Victor Marcé, a French psychiatrist who wrote the first treatise entirely devoted to puerperal mental illness, published in 1858. The principal aim of the Society is to promote, facilitate and communicate about research into all aspects of the mental health of women, their infants and partners around the time of childbirth. The Society is multidisciplinary and encourages involvement from psychiatrists, psychologists, pediatricians, obstetricians, general practitioners, scientists, academics, midwives, early childhood nurses, therapists, occupational therapists, community psychiatric nurses, social workers, community nurses, health visitors and other health professionals, who support the aim of the society.
Gunnar will also speak at the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute in Melbourne. Her talk, Early Life Stress and Neurobehavioral Development: Studies of Internationally Adopted Children, is part of a workshop at the MCRI’s Clinical Sciences unit.
Stephanie Carlson, professor and Director of Research at the Institute of Child Development, has joined the Advisory Board of Playworks Minnesota. Playworks is a national nonprofit that harnesses the power of play to promote healthy development for students in elementary schools. The founder of Playworks, Jill Vialet, sought ‘to change recess, to make it a positive and productive time for all kids’ and in so doing, to create better circumstances for children to learn after recess.
Sammy Perone, Postdoctoral Fellow at the Institute of Child Development, has received the Outstanding Senior Postdoctoral Scholar Award from the University of Minnesota’s Postdoctoral Association. Candidates are nominated by their mentors and the submissions are then judged by a panel of postdoctoral fellows and faculty. Stephanie Carlson, professor and Phil Zelazo, Nancy M. and John E. Lindahl Professor, both at the Institute of Child Development, nominated Perone for the award. The award is given for a junior and a senior postdoctoral fellow and were presented at the Postdoctoral Appreciation Symposium on September 23. The Symposium is a part of Postdoctoral Appreciation Week. The mission of the Postdoctoral Association is to improve the quality of the postdoctoral experience and to facilitate the long-term success of its members.
Sara Langworthy, (ICD 2011) currently an extension educator with the Children, Youth & Family Consortium, has developed tools for child development professionals, those who work with young children, and those who teach child development courses. Her book Bridging the Relationship Gap: Connecting with Children Facing Adversity, translates the science of how stress and trauma affect the development of young children’s brains and behaviors. “The book shares real world scenarios, scientific research, and useful strategies from expert professional for people working with young children facing adversity,” Langworthy says.
Langworthy, who describes herself as a developmental enthusiast, has also created the YouTube channel by the same name. Developmental Enthusiast delivers short videos on child development topics that could be used in teaching and in other educational and informational situations.
The value of developing executive function skills in young children and early learners is discussed by Phil Zelazo, Nancy M. and John E. Lindahl Professor, and Stephanie Carlson, professor and Director of Research, both at the Institute of Child Development, and Megan M. McClelland, Katherine E. Smith Healthy Children and Families Professor at Oregon State University in the Huffington Post of September 7. In The Blog column by Ellen Galinsky, The Science of a Strong Start, Zelazo, Carlson and McClelland talk about what their research has shown as the importance of encouraging and developing executive function skills in young children in order to make their transition to formal schooling in kindergarten successful. This early experience has been shown to contribute to a more successful school experience overall and to greater academic achievement in later life.
The researchers say, “The scientific link between executive function and school success couldn’t be clearer, but the real opportunity lies in taking that science out of the lab and putting it into practice inside the homes and classrooms of our youngest learners.”
Carlson and Zelazo’s work is also profiled in Startup tests children’s early learning skills, which appeared recently in Inquiry, the blog from the Office of the Vice President for Research.
Ann Ruhl Carlson, Coordinator of Early Childhood Education Programs at the Institute of Child Development, has recently joined two community groups that focus on making high-quality childcare and early childhood education available to all families.
Carlson has joined the Caring for Kids Initiative Advisory Council, a public/private collaborative scholarship for low-income families that ensures access to quality early education opportunities for children prior to entry in kindergarten. The Caring for Kids Initiative includes parent education and family supports which focus on family stability and serves west suburban Hennepin County areas.
Carlson is also serving on the Strategic Planning Committee for the Bloom Early Learning Center & Child Care in Plymouth. Bloom is a non-profit early learning center with a “special mission to make the highest quality childcare, programs and curriculum (and fun!) accessible to the entire community.” Bloom and the Caring for Kids Initiative describe their overall goal similarly as working to ensure that all children enter school in kindergarten ready to succeed.
Five doctoral students from the Institute of Child Development participated in the University on the Prairie program in Lamberton, Minnesota, July 30. Colleen Doyle, Angela Fenoglio, Madeline Harms, Amanda Hodel and Kelly Jedd all answered a call for volunteers to share their science knowledge with students in grades 7-12 who are immersed in three days of hands-on activities to explore science education and possible later science career opportunities. The Prairie program students conduct experiments, participate in hands-on labs and learn new skills from professionals working in science fields.
The ICD doctoral students spent a day leading sessions on brain anatomy, development, and plasticity.
“The kids got to participate in several brain-related activities, including touching human brain specimens,” Fenoglio said. Responses to the sessions ranged from “THIS WAS MY FAVORITE SECTION PLEASE COME BACK NEXT YEAR!!!” to “This was my second least favorite, it was gross.”
University on the Prairie is a program of the University of Minnesota Southwest Research & Outreach Center and University of Minnesota Extension.
“We’re hoping this might become an ICD tradition,” Fenoglio added.
Photo, left to right: Colleen Doyle, Madeline Harms, Amanda Hodel, Angela Fenoglio, and Kelly Jedd.
Jena Doom, doctoral student at the Institute of Child Development, has been awarded the American Psychological Association’s (APA) Division 7 Dissertation Research Grant in Developmental Psychology. Doom is currently conducting the research for her dissertation, entitled When Parents Become Ineffective Stress Buffers, Do Peers Step In? The award of $500 is given annually to support the dissertation research of 1 to 3 students whose in-progress research significantly advances ‘content knowledge, methodology and/or theory in developmental psychology’. APA’s Division 7 represents developmental psychologists.
Megan Gunnar, Regent’s Professor and Director, Institute of Child Development, will be presenting a session at the 15th Annual Communities Collaborative Brain Development Conference Closing the Gap in Mahnomen, MN, August 11-13, 2015. The conference draws presenters from across the state and the nation to offer cutting-edge information on brain development and strategies to close educational gaps for use in the home, early childhood programs, and elementary/secondary classrooms or programming.
Gunnar will present Building Healthy Brain Architecture and Forging Successful Communities, in which she will discuss how the brain develops from conception to early adulthood. “Because the brain develops in the context of relationships,” Gunnar says, “and those relationships are embedded in families and in communities, there are many opportunities for parents, extended family, and communities to promote the development of healthy brain architecture in their children. Doing so creates a strong and sustainable future for society.”
The conference is made possible by the White Earth Child Care/ Early Childhood Program and the Communities Collaborative Committee: WE Tribal Council, WE Health Department, WE Head Start, Mahube-Ottwa Head Start, Child Care Aware Region II & IV, Mahnomen & Waubun School Districts, WE Human Services, Becker County Human Services, Mahnomen County Human Services, WE Tribal & Community College, WE FASD, WE Community Health Education, WE Early Childhood Initiative (West Central Initiative), Shooting Star Casino, WE Indian Child Welfare and WE Mental Health.
In Supermarket speak: Increasing talk among low-socioeconomic status families, Katherine Ridge, doctoral student at the Institute of Child Development, examines the effectiveness of using signs in the supermarket to stimulate conversation between parents and their children. Her research, reported in Mind, Brain, and Education, shows that these conversations encourage and support building language and school readiness skills. The effect is most evident in families who are located low-socioeconomic neighborhoods and, in fact, Ridge found that when signs were posted, families were almost 4 times more likely to converse in stores located in lower-socioeconomic communities than when they were not posted. Ridge hopes to continue to create similar low-cost, effective interventions that don’t disrupt the lives of families and instead can be a part of every-day life.
Ridge’s research is featured in the July 29, 2015 issue of the Minnesota Daily in U study researches academic success through language skills.
Angela Narayan (ICD 2014) has been selected to receive the American Psychological Association’s Division 56 Award for Outstanding Dissertation in the Field of Trauma Psychology. The annual award recognizes the most outstanding dissertation defended in the prior academic year, including qualitative, quantitative, or theoretical work. Narayan’s was one of two awards given this year, and it was cited as ‘one of two clear standouts in an unusually large number of excellent nominees this year.’ The award will be given at the 2015 APA Annual Convention in Toronto, August 6-9.
In her dissertation, Intergenerational continuity of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) in high-risk families, Narayan aims to “elucidate the intergenerational pathways of adversity in homeless families and identify promotive and protective mechanisms to deter ACEs and foster parent and child resilience.” In so doing, Narayan also hopes to disseminate this research to help advance understanding of the “extent of cumulative risk that homeless families experience,” as well as identify key areas for preventative interventions to improve the well-being of families. In her remarks to be given at the awards ceremony, Narayan recognizes the support of her ICD doctoral adviser, Ann Masten, and the collaborative efforts of her fellow graduate students who worked on the study as well—Amy Monn, Julianana Sapienza, Laura Nerenberg, Erin Casey, Amanda Wenzel, and Madelyn Labella.
Currently, Narayan has just finished her pre-doctoral clinical psychology internship at the University of California, San Francisco, Department of Psychiatry, where she will continue to work as a post-doctoral fellow. She describes her current work as focusing on providing Child-Parent Psychotherapy and conducting research with parents and young children exposed to interpersonal trauma.
Ann Masten, Regents Professor and Irving B. Harris Professor of Child Psychology at the Institute of Child Development, and her work on resilience is the subject of an extended article in the Chronicle Herald of Halifax, Nova Scotia. In the article, Resilience of kids recovering from adversity inspires professor, Masten discusses what her research has shown about how individuals can keep optimistic in the face of adversities which are often severe and continuing. “We all encounter adversities, and some children have too much,” said Masten in the article. She goes on, “They’re faced with too many difficulties. We have to do something about that.” Masten gave the keynote address at the Pathways to Resilience III: Beyond Nature vs. Nurture conference held June 16-June 19th by the Resilience Research Centre at Dalhousie University. The Resilience Research Centre studies resilience using a socio-ecological approach with a multidimensional model, offering research, evaluation and training.
While she was in Halifax, Masten was also interviewed on the Rick Howe Show on News Radio 95.7 in Halifax.
Sponsored by the Institute of Child Development, the Shirley G. Moore Lab School seeks to demonstrate exemplary early childhood practices, provide a sound educational setting for preschool children as well as to train teachers of young children at the graduate and undergraduate levels and serve as an active center of child study and research. The Institute has been a national focal point of child study since its inception in 1925 and from the beginning, the Lab School was at the core of the Institute’s mission as a research and training center, contributing substantially to this effort.
Melissa Koenig, associate professor at the Institute of Child Development, was quoted in a National Public Radio story on how babies understand the emotional responses of adults around them. In the story, What Babies Understand About Adult Sadness, a recent study by Sabrina Chiarella and Diane Poulin-Dubois, both of Concordia University, is discussed. The study examines the reactions of 18-month-old infants to expressed and unexpressed sadness by the adults around them and Koenig’s research on the range and nuance of babies’ emotions is also discussed.
Brandon Almy, Colleen Doyle, and Christina Mondi, first year doctoral students at the Institute of Child Development, have brought home the Sloboda and Bukoski 2015 Cup from the Society for Prevention Research (SPR) annual meeting. The Sloboda and Bukoski Cup, described by the SPR as a friendly competition, is designed to recognize the importance of the collaborative process in generating significant advances in prevention science. The competition, which begins before the annual meeting with teams who conduct a project and prepare a symposium talk on their results, is named for two of the founders of SPR, Dr. Zili Sloboda and Dr. William Bukoski.
This year, teams were given two months to develop projects based on a longitudinal dataset from the World Health Organization, and made presentations during a conference session. The winning project was titled: Mexico’s Seguro Popular: Health and Wealth Effects of Public Health Insurance.
The ICD project team is pictured above (from left): Anne Zhou (Counseling Psychology), Brandon Almy (ICD), Nathan Wright (Public Health), Gerald August, executive director of the Center for Personalized Prevention Research, sponsor of the team, Christina Mondi (ICD)(holding the Cup), and Colleen Doyle (ICD).
Michele Mazzocco, professor at the Institute of Child Development and research director, Center for Early Education and Development, has been invited to serve as an adviser on the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) Improving Early Math Project team. Mazzocco will contribute to revising early learning standards for 0 – 5 year olds and advise on early math professional development efforts for early childhood educators in Minnesota.
The Minnesota Early Math Project team is one of six state-based teams selected to receive technical assistance from the National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices. The technical assistance is part of an NGA initiative to improve mathematics achievement in the U.S. by enhancing early childhood mathematics opportunities and promoting awareness of the significance of early mathematics. Mazzocco was also invited to discuss mathematical thinking and mathematics learning trajectories at the NGA Center for Best Practices meeting, Developing and Implementing State Strategies to Improve Early Mathematics Instruction and Outcome, on May 27 in St. Louis, Missouri.
The National Governors Association (NGA) Center for Best Practices acts as a public policy research and development firm that serves the nation’s governors. The NGA Center sees its role as one that will “develop innovative solutions to today’s most pressing public policy challenges.”