Professor and Department Chair of Child Study & Human Development
Theoretical perspectives on the integration of culture and human development; Narratives of identity and place in communities; Navigating multiple cultural worlds, with a focus on ethnic minority, immigrant, and under-represented communities; Interpretive and Narrative Analysis methods in the study of children and families.
Arts, music and drama education and its impact on youth development in formal and informal settings; the development of arts programming to support positive development, cultural identity and resilience among youths in underserved communities; arts and social justice; family influences on children's learning and social development; quantitative and qualitative methods of research and mixed methods designs; program evaluation
Children and media; ethnicity/gender and media; adolescents and media use.
I am currently working on a three-tiered interdisciplinary research project along with Chip Gidney, Mary Casey, and Cynthia Smith at Eliot-Pearson, as well as faculty in several other departments at Tufts. The first piece of this project is a long-running content analysis of children's animated programming. We are updating prior work we've done that investigates images of race, ethnicity and gender in children's animated programming using both content and sociolinguistic analysis. The second part of this research is an exploration of why stereotyping persists in children's media. We are examining this through intensive interviews with content creators, writers, directors, vocal casting directors, and actors. The third part of the project is empirical research we're conducting with children, to see how children make sense of gender, race, and ethnicity in the animated programs they see.
My applied work includes doing many media literacy workshops for parents and for children and for children in a variety of settings, and consulting work with colleagues at WGBH, one of the leading creators of children's educational media. I have written about children and media issues in a variety of academic and popular venues.
My other research is historical in nature. I've written one biography of the relatively unknown mother/daughter team who made Emily Dickinson into one of the most-known women anywhere in the world, and am starting work on a couple of other biographical projects.
Adolescence and young adulthood; identity development; civic development and engagement; youth contribution; critical consciousness; quantitative methods (including mixture models such as latent class and latent profile analyses); positive youth development
Professor and Bergstrom Chair in Applied Developmental Science
The application of developmental science across the life span; developmental systems theory; personality and social development in adolescence; developmental methodology; programs and policies for children, youth, and families; university-community collaboration and outreach scholarship.
Early childhood education, school success of young children at risk due to poverty, parenting and family-school partnerships in diverse ethnocultural communities, cuturally inclusive STEM curiculum, community-based research collaborations.
Pediatric psychology; Developmental Psychopathology; Family Functioning and Adaptation to Pediatric Chronic Illness; Children's Sibling Relationships; Psychological Consultation and Collaboration and Therapeutic Space Design; Grief Support; Pediatric Health Promotion and Disease Prevention Developmental Initiatives
Families and children in challenging circumstances; parenting and family functioning among diverse families; ethnic-racial socialization processes; cultural and contextual influences; child and youth outcomes; adoption and foster care
I specialize in working with LGBTQ+ individuals and non-traditional families. Through my research, I have been able to offer robust empirical evidence that informs both academic and policy debates about discrimination and sexual stigma; the population's attitudes towards non-traditional families; and the quality of interactions between gay fathers/lesbian mothers and their children, focusing on the study of attachment relationships.
I am passionate about studying the development of children who are raised outside the context of a traditional family, as well as outside of the binary (binary is for computers, not gender!). While research has focused on challenges faced by LGBTQ+ families, my work brings attention to how they remain stable and well-adjusted in face of social prejudice, i.e., a resilience-based perspective with a focus on family strengths. I am interested in ethnographic studies; research that explores the association between the quality of interaction and children's socio-emotional competence; and action research with LGBTQ+ folks with immigrant parents, black/brown/indigenous non-traditional families, and the development of LGBTQ+ individuals in non-western contexts.
As editor of the Tomorrow's Earth Stewards online resource for environmental educators and others) (see (https://sites.tufts.edu/earthstewards/), I work directly with my staff and students to bring the best research and practices to the attention of our readers -- as well as the best frameworks for understanding complex subjects having to do with environmental breakdown, eco-restoration, and developmentally appropriate practices that are cultural situated. My research interests also include work studying graduates of the New England Aquarium's teen internship program -- as a way to develop a practical model for evaluating the development of earth stewards. In the past, my research has included research on early symbol formation in a variety of play media (blocks, dolls, etc.), assessing the development of sensorimotor play in children with classic autism ('Kanner's" syndrome), the development of prayer in adolescence, and socially isolated preschoolers. The overarching theme has always been that of promoting more powerful models of development. Connected to my research projects have been writing projects aimed at offering a developmental perspective on a variety of major topics, These writing projects include textbooks, encyclopedias, and handbook chapters on children's play, classroom management, and religious and spiritual development.