Research Projects

The department's signature emphasis on RPI (research-practice integration) is reflected in its commitment to developmental science, in the applied research of its faculty, in the grantsmanship and productivity of its research centers, institutes, and special programs, and in its community-based partnerships through which collaborative research and applied projects are implemented. Faculty in the department conduct research across socio-culturally diverse communities and address issues of diversity, equity, and inclusion.

The Eliot-Pearson Children's School

The Eliot-Pearson Children's School is the laboratory-demonstration school affiliated with the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University. The school serves as a model and demonstration facility, providing a training and observation site for new and experienced teachers and a research facility for faculty and supervised students in the Department of Child Study and Human Development. The Children's School enrolls approximately 80 children. It has preschool and kindergarten to second grade classes that vary in length and frequency.

Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development (IARYD)

Established and directed by Dr. Richard M. Lerner, the Institute has the mandate and goal to be a center of excellence for the conduct and dissemination of top-tier scholarship and for the education and professional development of graduate and undergraduate students interested in enhancing the lives of diverse children, families, and communities.

Tufts Interdisciplinary Evaluation Research (TIER)

(formerly Massachusetts Healthy Families Evaluation)
Tufts Interdisciplinary Evaluation Research (TIER) is committed to conducting high-quality, collaborative evaluation research that contributes to expanding usable knowledge in fields such as applied developmental science, policy science, and urban planning, and to improving policies and programs for children, families, and communities.

Children and Community Contexts Lab (C3 Lab)

Established and directed by Dr. Tama Leventhal, the C3 Lab examines the role of community, neighborhood, and housing contexts in the lives of children, youth, and families. This research is at the intersection of developmental science and social policy, with a particular focus on low-income and immigrant families.


Directed by Dr. Christine McWayne, the EXCELs Lab engages in collaborations to investigate factors at the level of the child, family, classroom, and community that have been shown to be associated with children's early school success. In particular, the lab works to understand these factors within socioculturally diverse communities and contexts using quantitative, qualitative, and mixed-methods designs to contribute new knowledge.

Children's Television Project (CTV)

The CTV project is an on-going investigation of the sociolinguistic dimensions of children's animated television. For more information, visit the CTV website, or contact Dr. Calvin Gidney or Dr. Julie Dobrow.

The Crehan Lab

Our studies focus on social development in the context of autism spectrum disorder. Please explore our website and reach out with questions.

Families and Children in Challenging Circumstances (FaCCC)

Directed by Dr. Ellen Pinderhughes, FaCCC works to contribute an understanding of developmental processes that occur within families whose children are at risk for dysfunctional behavior — so that policies, interventions and services can be improved or designed to facilitate optimal child outcomes. Specific ongoing studies include: research on adoptive families with a focus on child and family readjustment; research on at-risk children in biological families which involves hypothesis testing examination with large samples over multiple years. For more information, contact Dr. Ellen Pinderhughes.

Navigating Multiple Cultural Worlds and Identities

This ongoing research project is designed to investigate the processes and circumstances under which children gain expertise in navigating between multiple worlds and identities. The underlying assumption is that navigating multiple identities is a critical component of the development of self and identity – especially for children of immigrants and those from underrepresented racial and ethnic communities who experience life as minorities in the U.S. For more information, contact Dr. Jayanthi Mistry.

Children Helping and Caregiving for their Families

Emma Armstrong-Carter leads studies focus on children's and adolescents' experiences helping and caregiving for their families. Further, she investigates how these experiences relate to children's wellbeing and school success. Her lab works directly with school systems to design and test policies at scale to support these children's wellbeing and education. Please explore the website and contact with questions.

Development of Identity and Community Engagement (DICE) Lab

Established and directed by by Dr. Sara K. Johnson, the DICE Lab investigates when, why, and how young people (adolescents and young adults) become engaged in contribution behaviors. We study the self-related processes (e.g., personal and social identity development), civic-related processes (e.g., development of an understanding of the roots and consequences of structural inequality), and life experiences (e.g., relationships with adults and peers who might be role models) that facilitate young people's involvement in justice-oriented contribution behaviors

"Abby & Anna" SOGIE Lab

Headed by Fernando Salinas-Quiroz, the "Abby & Anna" SOGIE Lab focuses on the role of sexual orientation, gender identity, and expression (SOGIE) in human development, health, and rights to enhance the lives of children, youth, and families.

From a trans and a developmental perspective, we are particularly interested in trans/nonbinary children's understanding of their gender and gendered experiences, trans joy, and the impact of intentionally co-constructed trans and social justice centered educational spaces. 

We seek to trans child studies by centering and uplifting trans people in the design, execution, and application of research (i.e., Youth Participatory Action Research and mix-methods). 

Please explore our website and reach out with questions!