Associate Professor, Psychology
My academic training has shaped my perspective as a researcher, but also as a teacher. At the core, I am a developmentalist. I believe that learning fuels personal growth. My role as a teacher is to provide a context for that learning, scaffold the experience and prepare students for lifelong learning and personal change.
Learning is a process that is dependent upon motivation and requires work and reflection. Student and teacher are collaborators in this venture. Asking the right questions is almost always more effective than giving out the right answers. I want students to walk away from my courses with new approaches to asking questions and new ways of finding answers. When it all clicks, students will almost always push themselves beyond what they thought they were capable (or willing) to learn, changing not only what they know today but also what they want to know in the future.
Research, Scholarship or Creative/Artistic Interests
My research falls into two lines:
1. One line of research focuses on sleep as a fundamental aspect of health and potential mediator that links childhood poverty, family stress and overall well-being. Scientific knowledge about how sleep contributes to adjustment, behavior, obesity and general health is growing rapidly; the consensus is that in addition to diet and exercise, sleep should be considered the “third pillar” of health-promoting behavior.
Research has also shown that children from poor families receive worse and shorter sleep than their more well-to-do counterparts. Understanding why there is a “sleep disparity” is a critical first step that will help inform prevention efforts aimed at improving the sleep (and maybe general well-being) of children at risk.
2. The second line of research focuses on the period of development known as “emerging adulthood” and on the factors that influence the well-being of individuals during this period. During this phase of the lifespan, emerging adults are hopefully acquiring skills that will help them make a successful transition to adulthood. In my research, I am interested in asking questions about how a particular background or experience may influence the acquisition of those skills and aid in a successful transition to adulthood.