SESP Graduate Students Win Dev Sci Funding

SESP Graduate Students Win Dev Sci Funding

Jacquelyn StephensJacquelyn Stephens (middle) during a recent behavioral coding workshop at SESP.

Northwestern University doctoral students Jacquelyn Stephens, Mollie McQuillian, and Courtenay Kessler have been awarded seed grant funding for ambitious research projects that promote health and well-being across the lifespan from the DevSci Center for Transdisciplinary Training and The Graduate School.

McQuillian, Stephens, and Kessler are graduate students in the School of Education and Social Policy’s human development and social policy program (HDSP), which looks at how public policy affects human development and well-being throughout life.

"HDSP research questions can be too big for any one discipline — they benefit from insights from fields like psychology, human development, political science, economics, and sociology,” said Professor and HDSP Program Coordinator Jonathan Guryan. “We value multidisciplinary research.”

The $15,000 seed grant funding spans four schools across the University, including SESP and five departments. Each project is considered “transformative” and advances Dev Sci’s "Healthier, Earlier" mission via novel, boundary-crossing lenses of inquiry that delve deeply into developmental questions.

Learn more about the projects:

JACQUELYN STEPHENS is researching negative and positive interactions between adolescents, parents, and caregivers with both healthy youth and those who are at high risk for psychosis. Her study bridges work of her advisers, Claudia Haase, assistant professor of human development and social policy and Vijay Mittal, associate professor of psychology at the Weinberg College of Psychology (WCAS). Stephens’ project is titled “It Takes Two: Behavioral Linkage in Adolescent-Parent Interactions, Cortisol Reactivity, and Clinical Symptoms."

MollieMOLLIE MCQUILLIAN investigates how gender dysphoria, social stressors, and a lack of social support contribute to poorer health in transgender populations. Her project is a sub-study of one of the largest American studies ever conducted with transgender youth. She’ll explore how medical interventions influence the hypothesized relationship between social stress, social support, inflammation, and immune function. Her advisers include Diane Schanzenbach, director and faculty fellow of the Institute for Policy Research and 
Margaret Walker Alexander Professor of Human Development and Social Policy; and biological anthropologist Thomas McDade, director of the Laboratory for Human Biology Research at the Weinberg College of Arts and Sciences. McQuillan’s project is titled “Transitions: Pubertal Medical Treatment, Social Stress, Social Support, Inflammation and Immune Response for Two Cohorts of Gender Dysphoric Youth."

courtenay_kesslerCOURTENAY KESSLER is examining how the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) program affects childhood development by looking at how states have implemented the federally funded nutrition program over the past four decades. Kessler is focusing on differences in eligibility criteria, income verification, food package exclusions, and breastfeeding incentives to estimate how state policies have impacted the health and social-emotional development of children eligible for WIC when they were between the ages of 1 and 5 years old. She is currently working with Schanzenbach and Terri Sabol, assistant professor of human development and social policy.

DevSci’s Center for Transdisciplinary Training supports training for students in developmental sciences and is geared toward innovations in biomedical and social sciences that emphasize early life and experiences and/or developmental mechanisms of health and well-being across the lifespan.

By Julie Deardorff
Last Modified: 8/21/18