The Association of University Centers on Disabilities (AUCD) website featured MNLEND Fellow Elise Niedermeier‘s collaboration with the Minneapolis Park and Recreation Board to bring sensory tents to the Minneapolis parks this summer. Sensory tents can help people, such as children with autism, cope with sensory overload. The article is titled, “MNLEND Fellow Leads Creation of Sensory Tents in the Minneapolis Parks.”
Oliver Williams, the founder of the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community (IDVAAC), received the 2018 Alliance for HOPE International Lifetime Achievement Award in Fort Worth, Texas on April 25, 2018.
“Oliver Williams has changed the world for thousands of victims and offenders in the course of his amazing career. He is without a doubt one of the most transformational leaders we have ever worked with,” said Alliance President Casey Gwinn.
Williams is a professor of School of Social Work at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. He was the Executive Director of the Institute on Domestic Violence in the African American Community (IDVAAC) from June 1994 to September 2016 and served as the project director of the African Immigrant and Domestic Violence Initiative from 2010 to 2016 and the Safe Return Initiative that addressed prisoner reentry and domestic violence from 2003-2016. Currently, he directs the African American Domestic Peace Project that works with community leaders in 12 cities across the United States.
Williams has worked in the field of domestic violence for more than thirty-five years. He is a clinical practitioner, working in mental health, family therapy, substance abuse, child welfare, delinquency, domestic violence and sexual assault programs. He has worked in battered women’s shelters, developed curricula for batterers’ intervention programs, and facilitated counseling groups. He has provided training across the United States and abroad on research and service-delivery surrounding partner abuse.
Currently he is a consultant with the Education for Critical Thinking and an advisor with Domestic Violence Shelters.org. He has been appointed to several national advisory committees and task forces from the Center for Disease Control, U.S. Department of Justice, Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Office on Women’s Health, and the U.S. Department of Education. He has been a board member of various domestic violence and human service organization including the early days of the National Domestic Violence Hotline (1999-2000) and the Alliance for HOPE International Advisory Board from 2006 to 2016.
In 2000, he was appointed to the National Advisory Council on Domestic Violence by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services and U.S. Attorney General. In 2010, he hosted a roundtable on youth and violence for the U.S. Attorney General. He also participated in a roundtable with the U.S. Attorney General on issues related to fatherhood and participated in a White House Roundtable on Fatherhood and Domestic Violence. He has conducted training for military Family Advocacy programs in the United States and abroad. He has presented to numerous Family Violence, Research and Practice organizations in the United States, Kenya, Canada, the Virgin Islands, the United Kingdom and Germany. In 2015, he was invited to speak at the United Nations about domestic violence among Africans in the United States and in Africa. His research and publications in scholarly journals, books, reports and DVDs have centered on creating service delivery strategies to reduce violent behavior and support victims of abuse. He has consulted with the NFL, MLB, and the NBA on issues related to domestic violence.
Williams has received many awards, among them include an award from the American Psychological Association, an International “Telly Award” for his documentary work; the National
“Shelia Wellstone Institute Award” related to his national work on Domestic Violence and a Distinguished Alumni Award from the University of Pittsburgh, School of Social Work.
Dr. Williams received a bachelor’s degree in social work from Michigan State University; a Masters in Social Work from Western Michigan University; a Master’s in Public Health and a PH.D in Social Work both from the University of Pittsburgh.
“Dr. Williams is a visionary, a change agent, and an advocate for the marginalized,” said Alliance CEO Gael Strack. “He continues to challenge us to keep growing, changing, and dreaming as we seek to improve Family Justice Centers, Rape Crisis Centers, Child Advocacy Centers, and other types of collaborative approaches to providing trauma-informed support for survivors and their children.”
Alliance for HOPE International is one of the leading systems and social change organizations in the country focused on creating innovative, collaborative, trauma-informed approaches to meeting the needs of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and their children. Alliance for HOPE International and its allied Centers serve more than 150,000 survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and their children each year in the United States. The Alliance supports multi-agency Centers in more than ten countries and trains more than 10,000 multi-disciplinary professionals every year.
Alliance for HOPE International operates the Family Justice Center Alliance, the Training Institute on Strangulation Prevention, Camp HOPE America, the Justice Legal Network, and the VOICES Survivor Network. The Alliance was launched by the founders of the San Diego Family Justice Center after the development of the President’s Family Justice Center Initiative in 2004. At the request of the U.S. Department of Justice, the team was asked to develop a program to support new and developing Family Justice Centers across the country. There are currently more than 130 operational Centers in the United States with international Centers in more than twenty countries. There are over 100 Centers currently developing in the United States, Europe, the Middle East, and Central America.
Bill Doherty, professor in the Department of Family Social Science, delivered the address at the College of Education and Human Development’s Graduate Commencement Ceremonies Thursday, May 10.
An educator, researcher, couple and family therapist, author, consultant, and community organizer, Doherty joined the University of Minnesota’s Department of Family Social Science in 1986, and has been a leader in preparing professionals for effective democratic engagement and conducting community-based research projects that advance knowledge and solve local problems.
Developing his Families and Democracy Framework, Bill has been testing his theories over the past year in workshops with the non-profit, Better Angels, that build bridges between “red and blue” citizens in communities across America. Citizens on both sides of the divide enter Bill’s workshops polarized and defensive, and leave connected, transformed – healed.
In his remarks, he discussed this recent work and challenged graduates to join him in this work.
GRADUATE STUDENT COMMENCEMENT ADDRESS
I’m sure you’ve noticed that the political world has changed since you entered graduate school. We are now in the throes of a political polarization that some historians believe is the worst we’ve seen the 1850s. And it didn’t start in November 2016. The last presidential election brought to a head a process that has been coming upon us for at least 50 years. I’ll give just one data point as an illustration: In 1960 5% of Americans said they would be uncomfortable with their son or daughter marrying someone of the other political party. Now that figure has reached 35-40%. Today Americans increasingly view their political opponents not only as misguided, but also as bad people whose ways of thinking are both dangerous and incomprehensible. This current degree of civic rancor between red America and blue America threatens our families, as people pull away from family members who vote another way, and our democracy itself, which is based on our ability to work together across differences for the common good. The United States is disuniting.
How’s that for an upbeat start to a commencement address?
So why do I come today filled with the hope that we can get past this polarization and with the conviction that individuals with the training you’ve had in this College can make a difference? For starters, education and human development are fundamentally about relationships. As much as anything else, your graduate degree is in how to form and nurture productive relationships, without which our specialized academic knowledge is barren. Relationships are the natural antidote to polarization because polarization (and I would add other social ills like racism) is sustained when we don’t know one other, when we don’t have civic friendships, when we stay in our silos, watch our favorite media, and talk about the other group and not with them.
Of course there is a long way from this generalization about relationships to actually moving the needle towards depolarization, especially when our news feeds constantly inflame us and our Facebook contacts spout what we see as dangerous nonsense. How do we design settings or containers where people with different political views can come together in a productive way?
I’ve been involved in such a project, called Better Angels (after Lincoln’s phrase “the better angels of our nature”). Better Angels is a grassroots citizen’s initiative bringing red and blue Americans together in a working alliance to depolarize America. It took off after the last election when we decided to bring together 10 Clinton voters and 10 Trump voters for a weekend in southwest Ohio. My job was to design and facilitate the gathering, and to say that I was nervous would be an understatement. I quickly realized that the goals had to focus on understanding each other beyond stereotypes and looking for common ground, and that the process had to be highly structured and feature listening and learning rather than declaring and debating. Well, the workshop was successful beyond our expectations and it launched a small movement. Since that first workshop, Better Angels has gone national, with three hour and six hour workshops happening in 24 states, some of them leading to the formation of Better Angels Alliances, groups of Republicans and Democrats working together to promote depolarization in their communities and to advocate for policies where they have common ground—like gerrymandering and money in politics. We have one of those red/blue alliances in Minnesota.
I’ll tell you just one story from the Ohio workshop. Greg Smith came as pro-Trump, white Christian conservative determined to convince others to support Trump, and Kouhyar Mostashfi came as a Muslim Iranian immigrant Democrat with fears that the country could turn violent because of forces now unleashed. Well, Greg and Kouhyar ended up sitting next to each other during the workshop. By the end they had agreed to visit each other’s houses of worship. They are now co-chairs of the Southwest Ohio Better Angels Alliance and will be featured in a forthcoming PBS documentary about that workshop. They are still a conservative and a liberal but with a common cause to rebuild the civic fabric of their community.
On this occasion as we celebrate the attainment of a graduate degree in the College of Education and Human Development, I want to challenge the graduates to create containers or processes in your classrooms, counseling offices, and community centers for a kind of diversity that we’ve not emphasized very much until recently—namely, political diversity. How can we create environments that allow conservatives and liberals, reds and blues, to engage each other productively, with both sides feeling respected? Among other things, it will mean understanding that many of our favorite terms have become “colorized” in today’s environment. Some of us frame goals in terms of diversity, inclusiveness, and social justice—all good things, but thoroughly blue in language and therefore alienating to reds who fear that the starting premise will be that they are racists—and then let’s work together from there. The shoe would be on the other foot if blues were invited to a conversation based on the language of love of country, the American experiment, and self-responsibility. I’ve learned that productive conversation in a polarized environment cannot start with my insistence that the other side accept my preferred terms for what we are here to do.
Now this depolarization work is not just in classrooms and workshops; it’s in our hearts and minds as well. My question for all of us here today is this: How do we personally regard our fellow Americans who differ from us strongly in politics and public policy? Maybe you’ve heard the adage: Choose your enemies carefully, for you will become like them. Stated differently, if you demonize another group, you distort yourself and begin to look like a mirror image of them. When we train moderators for Better Angels workshops, we ask them to self-assess their own emotional attitude towards the people on the other side of the political spectrum. I invite you to think about where you are on a spectrum of attitudes I’ll describe. Keep in mind that this not how you may feel about an individual political leader but about the bulk of people on the other side—the over 40 million people who voted the other way in the last election.
The first attitude is hatred toward a group who are out to destroy the country. I hope that’s not where most of us are with regards our fellow citizens. The second attitude is more common: disdain for people who are ignorant and misguided—and who should know better. The third attitude is pity for others who have good intentions but are ignorant and led astray by bad leaders—and who need to be enlightened. The fourth attitude is basic respect: others who disagree with me have rational views but ultimately theirs is not the right approach to solving our nation’s problems. The fifth attitude is respect and appreciation: the other side has views that need to be included in the ultimate solutions. I’m convinced that we only shift in the direction of respect by first seeking to understand others as they understand themselves, and then telling them what we think.
As a family therapist, I’m trained to understand people who are locked in conflict, but the challenge in the public arena is that I’m part of the conflict. I do have a dog in this fight and I’m scared for the future of our democracy. But I believe in my heart that most Americans really don’t really want a civic divorce and, when offered the right container for conversation and relationship building, will choose to access the better angels of their nature.
There is lots of work ahead. As I said, today’s polarization didn’t start with the current President. It came from many sources that gradually tore the social fabric, with groups feeling left out and left behind, with our growing distrust of one another and of our social institutions, including colleges and universities.
Our democracy itself is at stake here. Elections of course are won or lost, but they are only a small part of democracies. Democracy is mostly about how we come together and make decisions about our common lives. It’s about collective agency, about acting as “We the People,” in all our differences. It’s the only way we can have healthy communities and effective governance. As people sometimes say in Better Angels workshops, “We can’t wait for our elected leaders to start bringing us together. We have to begin ourselves.”
Abraham Lincoln presided over a country that was far more divided than the one we live in today. Yet he saw the promise of America in that dark time. We’d do well to heed these ending words of his first Inaugural address:
“We are not enemies, but friends. We must not be enemies. Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection. The mystic chords of memory, stretching from every battlefield and patriot grave to every living heart and hearthstone all over this broad land, will yet swell the chorus of the Union, when again touched, as surely they will be, by the better angels of our nature.”
Aarinola Esther Okelola, an elementary education foundations major and TESL minor, received the 2018 President’s Student Leadership and Service Award (PSLA). The PSLA recognizes the accomplishments and contributions of outstanding student leaders at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities. It is presented to approximately one-tenth of one percent of the student body for their exceptional leadership and service to the University of Minnesota and the surrounding community.
Okelola was also a TRIO McNair scholar this past year where she was supported in her academic research focusing on disciplinary practices in schooling and how those can impact K-12 students’ academic achievement.
Thanks to support from the administrators of the University of Minnesota and the principal and teachers at LoveWorks Academy in Golden Valley,Zan Gao, Ph.D., associate professor in the School of Kinesiology and director of the Physical Activity Epidemiology Laboratory (PAEL), recently established a Brain Gym Lab in the fitness room of LoveWorks Academy. Specifically, four Wii U exercise stations and four Xbox One Kinect exercise stations have been set up in the Brain Gym Lab, which promotes learning through movement.
Loveworks Academy is a public charter school located in a diverse neighborhood and works with a large number of low-income, underserved children ages 4 through 14. The school focuses on a strong academic program that personalizes learning for all students, helping develop independent, cooperative, responsible, and creative adults.
Thus far, the novel exercise program has been well received by teachers and students in the school. This is the third school-based lab Dr. Gao has established in the public schools in the state of Minnesota. Below are photos from the program.
Cheniqua Johnson, who is graduating with a bachelor of science degree in Family Social Science, will deliver this year’s student commencement address at the College of Education and Human Development’s undergraduate ceremonies Thursday, May 10, 5:30 p.m.
She is the first person in her family to graduate from a four-year institution and is currently the Staff Assistant/Intern Coordinator for Congressman Keith Ellison. While a student, she was actively involved in several student groups and campus organizations, including Black Motivated Women, Black Student Union, CEHD Student Senate, the Multicultural Center for Academic Excellence, TRIO Student Alliance, Undergraduate Student Advisory Board, and the U of M Women’s Center. She completed a policy internship in the Office of Governor Mark Dayton and an internship in Washington D.C. through the Council for Opportunity in Education with the Office of Senator Richard J. Durbin.
Johnson is currently a New Sector RISE Fellow and a participant in the Dr. Josie R. Johnson Leadership Academy, an intergenerational, year-long leadership training program for African American leaders in the Twin Cities. Her future plans include attending law school and building a career in public service.
(Information supplied by CEHD communications staff).
A new study by the Minnesota-Autism and Developmental Disabilities Monitoring Network (MN-ADDM) at the University of Minnesota identified 1 in 42 children (2.4 percent) as having autism spectrum disorder (ASD) in Minnesota. Focused on children who were 8 years old, the study relied on 2014 data from the health and special education records of 9,767 children in Hennepin and Ramsey counties.
As part of a nationwide network of studies funded by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Autism and Developmental Disability Monitoring Network (ADDM), the Minnesota-specific study shows the rate of ASD is higher than the national average. The CDC found that, on average, 1 in 59 (1.7 percent) children was identified as having ASD in communities where prevalence was tracked by the ADDM Network. This is the first time Minnesota has been involved in the ADDM Network.
“Minnesota’s higher prevalence rates could be due, in part, to the concentration of services and supports in the Minneapolis-Saint Paul area,” said Amy Hewitt, PhD, the principal investigator for the Minnesota study.
The Minnesota study is unique in relation to other ADDM Network studies because, in addition to examining data from white, black and Hispanic populations, it also collected information on two immigrant groups with large populations in Minnesota — Somali and Hmong. The study found no significant statistical differences in prevalence rates between Somali and non-Somali children or between Hmong and other children. The prevalence finding was 1 in 26 for Somali children and 1 in 54 for Hmong children.
“While both these numbers may look very different from the overall Minnesota average of 1 in 42, the sample sizes were too small to be able to tell if these differences are real or occurred by random chance,” Hewitt said. “By being able to expand our study area beyond the borders of Hennepin and Ramsey counties in future studies, we will be able to gain a better perspective on autism rates among all Minnesotans, including those of Somali and Hmong descent.”
The Minnesota-specific study also found that:
consistent with previous national estimates, 8-year-old boys were four times more likely to be identified with ASD than girls of the same age;
while ASD can be diagnosed as early as age two, about half of the children tested in Hennepin and Ramsey counties were not diagnosed with ASD by a community provider until 4 years and 9 months;
of the children with ASD who had IQ tests in their records, 43 percent of Somali children and 18 percent of Hmong children had a co-occurring intellectual disability compared to the overall average of 28 percent. Sample sizes were too small to be able to determine if this difference was real or whether it occurred by random chance.
“Understanding the prevalence of autism in Minnesota communities is a critical first step as we make plans to ensure access to services from childhood through adulthood,” said Hewitt. “We hope that as a result of the MN-ADDM project, the differences uncovered in this study will help us better understand health disparities in our state and to expand Minnesota’s autism support services and workforce network.”
The MN-ADDM Network, which is part of the Institute on Community Integration in the College of Education and Human Development at the University of Minnesota, collaborates with a wide variety of community ASD organizations and several Minnesota state organizations, including the Minnesota Departments of Education, Human Services, and Health. The MN-ADDM Network also partners with an active community advisory board.
As a NSF Graduate Research fellow, Stallworthy plans to build on her past and current research focusing on self-regulation and social engagement in early infancy from bio-behavioral and social-cognitive perspectives. Through her research, Stallworthy hopes to inform parent education and caregiver interventions on ways to promote successful socio-emotional, communicative, and self-regulatory skills early in life. “I am excited to build upon my past research experiences to ask new questions about the emergence of the social mind and brain, synthesizing ideas from multiple labs and research traditions,” Stallworthy said.
Lakhan-Pal’s research focuses on the understanding of emotional regulation during the transition to adolescence. With help from the fellowship, Lakhan-Pal plans to use electroencephalography (EEG) to assess whether parenting practices around emotions have an impact on how effective teens are able to self-regulate. “I’m mainly curious on how parents’ supportiveness and tendency to coach kids through emotional experiences will affect their children’s ability to regulate during adolescence,” Lakhan-Pal said.
Ravyn Gibbs, an M.S.W./M.P.H. student, was selected for the 2018 Udall Foundation Native American Congressional Internship Program. She will be interning with the Senate Committee on Indian Affairs.
Gibbs is Anishinaabe. She is an enrolled member of the Bois Forte Band of Chippewa and a direct descendant of the Red Lake Nation. She holds a bachelor’s degree in criminology from the University of Minnesota Duluth and is enrolled the dual-degree master’s program in social work and public health at the University of Minnesota. She works at the American Indian Cancer Foundation as a graduate research assistant. After graduation, she intends to advocate for and develop policies that positively impact the health and well-being of American Indian communities. During the internship, Gibbs hopes to gain insight and better understanding of how federal policy is developed and its relationship with tribal sovereignty and tribal development.
The Udall interns will complete an intensive, 9-week internship in the summer of 2018 in Washington, D.C. Special enrichment activities will provide opportunities to meet with key decision makers. From 1996 through 2018, 267 Native American and Alaska Native students from 120 Tribes will have participated in the program. Seven Udall interns have been students at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities.
Based on her groundbreaking research and practice, Dr. Pauline Boss, a Family Social Science professor emeritus, will outline her six guidelines for understanding ambiguous loss in a half-day workshop Thursday, May 3 in McNeal Hall on the University of Minnesota’s St. Paul campus.
Ambiguous loss is an unclear loss and thus without resolution. Boss has developed a training framework for professionals that offer ways to help individuals, couples, and families build resiliency by finding meaning, adjusting mastery, reconstructing identity, normalizing ambivalence, revisiting attachment, and discovering new hope. She also addresses relational and contextual assessments and interventions, cultural differences regarding the need for closure, the psychological family, and self-of-the-therapist issues.
Boss’s work began with military families facing the trauma of receiving the report of a loved one “Missing in Action” during the Vietnam War and developed as she helped individuals, families and first responders cope with chronic disease and disabilities, and disasters both natural and manmade – including the Attacks of September 11th in New York City.
According to Boss, ambiguous loss represents a unique type of loss that is arguably more stressful and difficult to cope with. Situated within the context(s) of human relationships, it carries no verification of death and/or certainty that the person being lost will ever return (physically or psychologically).
These efforts have informed and continue to evolve in collaboration with other scholars and practitioners worldwide who are aligning what they do in therapy, community engagement, and research with Boss’s pioneering concepts. Boss has been among those challenging the concept of “closure” – instead she advocates family and community-based approaches that “walk alongside people in finding meaning in their experiences and pain.”
When loved ones disappear physically or suffer from an illness that takes away their memory, when families are separated by forced migrations, when loss makes no sense (suicide, homicide), or when youth are fostered, adopted, or experience parental divorce, the lens of ambiguous loss guides therapists to treat situations of loss that have no solutions and where traditional PTSD and grief therapies are insufficient.
More about the workshop
The training will be videotaped. Participants may appear in the final video as part of audience shots/or asking questions. Consent forms will be collected the day of workshop.
School of Kinesiology alumna and beloved U of M and professional basketball player Lindsay Whalen has been hired as head coach of Gopher women’s basketball.
Whalen, who was starting point guard for the Gophers from 2000 to 2004, was a three-time All-America star. During her tenure, she was the program’s all-time scoring leader at 2,285 points, and her powerful presence propelled women’s basketball into the forefront at the University. Average attendance at Williams Arena increased more than 900% during her career as a Gopher.
After four years playing for the U of M, Whalen was drafted by the Connecticut Sun and played for six seasons before returning to Minnesota in 2010 to play for the Minnesota Lynx. She graduated from the School of Kinesiology in 2006 with a B.S. in Sport Science (now Sport Management). She will continue to play for the Lynx and coach for the Gophers.
A few of the many media reports, including Whalen’s press conference, are linked below.
Reese Butterfuss, a Ph.D. student in the psychological foundations of education program in the Department of Educational Psychology and a member of the Reading + Language Lab, has been awarded the 2018 Graduate Student Research Excellence Award by the American Educational Research Association (AERA; Division C; Learning and Instruction). This award represents Division C’s continuing efforts to recognize excellence in graduate student research. Butterfuss will receive his award at the division’s annual business meeting at the American Educational Research Association (AERA) conference in New York City, April 13-17.
Butterfuss—under the mentorship of faculty member Panayiota (Pani) Kendeou—conducts research on the role of higher-order cognition on knowledge revision during reading comprehension. He has published several papers in this area. Read more about his most recent work on executive functions (EFs) and reading comprehension here. In addition to this award, Butterfuss received the Outstanding Student Paper Award (OSPA) from the Society for Text and Discourse and the Research Excellence Award from the psych foundations program in 2017.
Butterfuss is currently a Graduate Research Assistant on the TeLCI project, funded by the Institute of Education Sciences. In his role on the project, Butterfuss, along with Britta Bresina, are leading the investigation on the role of EF in young children’s inference making.
This could lead to earlier intervention and potentially better treatment outcomes.
For the first time, researchers have used MRIs to show that babies with the neurodevelopmental condition fragile X syndrome had less-developed white matter compared to infants that did not develop the condition. Imaging white matter can help researchers focus on the underlying brain circuitry important for proper communication between brain regions. These findings could lead to new and earlier interventions, and potentially better treatment outcomes.
The study— co-led by University of Minnesota researcher Jason Wolff, Ph.D., and University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill researcher Meghan Swanson, Ph.D., and published in JAMA Psychiatry —shows that there are brain differences related to the neurodevelopmental disorder established well before a diagnosis is typically made at age three or later.
“Our work highlights that white matter circuitry is a potentially promising and measurable target for early intervention,” said co-first author Wolff, an assistant professor of educational psychology in the College of Education and Human Development. “These results substantiate what other researchers have shown in rodents—the essential role of fragile X gene expression on the early development of white matter.”
Fragile X syndrome is a genetic disorder and the most common inherited cause of intellectual disability in males. Symptoms include intellectual disabilities, problems with social interaction, delayed speech, hyperactivity, and repetitive behaviors. About 10 percent of people with fragile X experience seizures. About one-third of people with fragile X meet the diagnostic criteria for autism spectrum disorder.
“One of the exciting things about our findings is that the white matter differences we observe could be used as an objective marker for treatment effectiveness,” said co-senior author Heather C. Hazlett, Ph.D., assistant professor of psychiatry at the UNC School of Medicine.
For this study, Wolff, Hazlett, and colleagues imaged the brains of 27 infants who went on to be diagnosed with fragile X and 73 who did not develop the condition. The researchers focused on 19 white matter fiber tracts in the brain. Fiber tracts are bundles of myelinated axons—the long parts of neurons that extend across the brain or throughout the nervous system. Think of bundles of cables laid across the brain. These bundles of axons connect various parts of the brain so that neurons can rapidly communicate with each other. This communication is essential, especially for proper neurodevelopment during childhood.
Imaging and analytical analysis showed significant differences in the development of 12 of 19 fiber tracts in babies with fragile X from as early as six months of age. The babies who wound up being diagnosed with fragile X had significantly less-developed fiber tracts in various parts of the brain.
“It’s our hope that earlier diagnosis and intervention will help children with fragile X and their families,” said Swanson, co-first author and postdoctoral research fellow at the Carolina Institute for Developmental Disabilities at UNC. “We also hope that this knowledge might inform drug development research.”
So far, drug clinical trials have failed to demonstrate change in treatment targets in individuals with fragile X. One of the challenges has been identifying good treatment outcome measures or biomarkers that show response to intervention.
Other authors are Mark Shen, Ph.D., Martin Styner, Ph.D., and Joseph Piven, M.D., of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill; Annette Estes, Ph.D., of the University of Washington; Guido Gerig, Ph.D., of New York University; and Robert McKinstry, M.D., Ph.D., and Kelly Botteron, M.D., of Washington University in St. Louis.
Funding was provided by the National Institutes of Health and the Simons Foundation.
This study, which used data collected from 2008 to 2016, would have been impossible without the dedication to research from families who had another older child already diagnosed with fragile X syndrome.
Alisha Wackerle-Hollman, senior research associate in the Department of Educational Psychology’s school psychology program, was recently featured in the MN Daily for her work with St. Paul Public Schools (SPPS) to develop Individual Growth and Developmental Indicators (IGDIs) for Hmong speaking students.
According to the article, St. Paul is home to over 26,000 Hmong speakers.
“Research shows learning a second language is easier for students who have a strong foundation in their first language, so knowing how well a student understands Hmong is key to helping them learn English as a second language,” Wackerle-Hollman told the Daily.
Prepare2Nspire is a tiered tutoring program that prepares underserved middle school and high-school math students to succeed. The program connects math students in urban classrooms with undergraduate mentors at the University. The tutoring sessions take place in North Minneapolis and provides free bus fares and food to the students and mentors. The students served are primarily African-American, historically the group that has the lowest scores on national and state assessments. Through the program, she has seen ACT and standardized test scores rise.
Curriculum and Instruction department chair Cynthia Lewis says that “Lesa has developed and implemented a program that not only provides students with support in mathematics but also creates a culture of excellence and high academic standards…Lesa strives to provide underrepresented populations with the power of math as a tool for social justice.” Clarkson’s commitment to educational equity and social justice is an outstanding exemplar of the department’s mission.
As a Distinguished McKnight University Professor, Roisman will receive a $100,000 grant for research and scholarly activities, and carry the title throughout his University career. Roisman is one of six University professors receiving the award in 2018. Four CEHD professors have earned the award previously, including Frank Symons of educational psychology, and Megan Gunnar, Ann Masten, and Stephanie Carlson, all of the Institute of Child Development.
At the Institute of Child Development, Roisman leads the Relationship Research Lab, which examines the legacy of early relationship experiences as an organizing force in social, cognitive, and biological development across the lifespan. Roisman also oversees the Minnesota Longitudinal Study of Parents and Children, which began in 1975 and primarily focuses on how people think about their social experiences, risk and protective factors, and issues of continuity and change.
Through his research, Roisman has used innovative statistical methods and the unique datasets provided by longitudinal studies to determine how early relationship experiences impact different individuals and how those experiences support or undermine their physical and psychological health as adults.
Roisman and the other winners of this year’s Distinguished McKnight University Professorships will be recognized at a Board of Regents meeting in Spring 2018 and honored at a celebratory dinner.
Jenna Cushing-Leubner, a Ph.D. candidate in the Second Language Education program, recently received the 2018 Outstanding Dissertation Award from the Critical Educators for Social Justice (CESJ) Special Interest Group (SIG) within the American Educational Research Association (AERA). This award is given out to one standout emerging student each year who deserves to be recognized for their work on their dissertation. This year, given the number of standout applicants, the committee chose to honor two students. This included C&I’s own Cushing-Leubner, who was advised by Martha Bigelow throughout the dissertation process. There will be a business meeting at AERA on April 15 to formally honor her.
The University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development (CEHD) continues to climb in the latest U.S. News & World Report graduate school rankings, breaking the top 20 this year with a ranking of 19, a move up from a ranking of 21st last year.
For the U.S. News & World Report rankings, 385 schools that grant doctoral degrees were surveyed. Schools were rated on 10 measures including peer assessment, educational professionals’ assessment, student selectivity, faculty resources, and research activity.
“We are pleased to continue to rise in the rankings, said CEHD Dean Jean K. Quam. “It’s validation for our work moving forward in educational equity, teaching and learning innovations, and children’s mental health and development.
CEHD is a world leader in developing programs with a positive impact on child development, teaching, and learning. CEHD laboratory preschool, for example, bases its instruction on the idea that children are the agents of their own learning, encouraging hands-on, child-directed experiences. CEHD researchers bring real-world data collection to the classroom to help teachers in Minnesota and beyond. We are also developing new programs and technology, such as Check & Connect, to help educators improve student outcomes and keep at-risk kids on track to graduation.
The mission of the University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development is to contribute to a just and sustainable future through engagement with the local and global communities to enhance human learning and development at all stages of the life span.
The annual C&I Emerging Scholars conference, sponsored by C&I’s graduate student group, CIGSA, continues to grow as it meets a need to showcase student research. This year’s conference on Friday, April 6, will offer 65 research presentations ranging from roundtables to posters to talks that highlight student research in any aspect of curriculum and instruction. Students, faculty, and staff outside of the Department of Curriculum and Instruction are also presenting and encouraged to attend.
The conference theme is “Reimagine Education: A Collective Responsibility.” Keynote speaker, Peter Demerath, an associate professor in OLPD, will kick off the conference followed by breakout sessions and a poster presentation. The day will wrap up with networking and an ice cream social.
Formerly, the C&I conference was known as C&I research day and organized in a poster presentation format. Reconfiguring the event as a conference has helped graduate students build their professional CV’s and gain presentation experience while building a student support network and research community. However, the conference is not just for graduate students. Undergraduate students are encouraged to attend and submit research. (The submission deadline has passed for this year’s event).
Registration is freeand includes a catered lunch and access to all events and presentations. The conference start at 11 a.m. and end at 4:00 p.m., but attendees are not required to be there for the entire program. Keynote is in Peik gym, poster session in Peik 45.
On Saturday, March 3, graduate students from the Department of Educational Psychology’s counseling and student personnel psychology (CSPP) program dove into Lake Calhoun’s icy waters to support Special Olympics Minnesota. Several students raised money for the plunge, including: Michael Rask, Rikki Hemstad, Drew Wandschneider, Brandon Forcier, Addison Novak, Sarah Sorenson, Shelby McCabe, and Melissa Derby (’17 CSPP alum).
Nearly all of the current CSPP student body supported this year’s Polar Plunge through donations, and many came to Lake Calhoun to cheer on their classmates. The group raised a total of $2,169 to support Special Olympics.
Congratulations and great work to all of our CSPP Polar Plunge participants!