Start Early. Start well.

August 29, 2017

Buffett Institute Awards Graduate Fellowships for 2017-18

Omaha, Neb. — The Buffett Early Childhood Institute has awarded one-year grants to three University of Nebraska doctoral students through a pioneering fellowship program.

The Buffett Early Childhood Institute Graduate Scholars program provides financial support and mentoring and is designed to foster the growth of diverse, exceptional graduate students conducting research about young children and their families. The program, now in its second year, is the first financial support program for doctoral students who have reached Ph.D. candidacy at the University of Nebraska that focuses on young children and their development.

Each student will receive up to $25,000 to support scholarly research that benefits young children.

 “We are thrilled to continue our support of talented doctoral students and faculty at the University of Nebraska,” said Samuel J. Meisels, founding executive director of the Buffett Institute. “The three recipients are exceptional students whose research will deepen our understanding of young children’s learning and development.”

The 2017-18 fellowship recipients are:

Sonya Bhatia, of Lisle, Ill., a school psychology student in the Department of Educational Psychology and the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families, and Schools at the University of Nebraska ̶ Lincoln. Faculty mentor: Dr. Sue Sheridan.

Bhatia’s research will examine conjoint behavioral consultation’s effects on teacher-student interactions. Conjoint behavioral consultation is an evidence-based family-school partnership intervention designed to promote positive teacher-child interactions and support the learning and development of young children with challenging behaviors.

Amy Colgrove, of Naperville, Ill., a student in human sciences in the Department of Child, Youth, and Family Studies at the University of Nebraska ̶ Lincoln. 
Faculty mentor: Dr. Victoria Molfese.

Colgrove will study the effectiveness of a mindfulness-based intervention designed to provide strategies and skills for stress management and increasing general well-being among teachers. Teachers play a vital role in promoting the learning and social-emotional development of their students, and high levels of stress make teachers’ important work more difficult and may even lead some to leave the profession. 

Jordan Wickstrom, of Columbus, Neb., a student in exercise science (concentration in motor development and control) in the Department of Biomechanics at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Faculty mentors: Drs. Anastasia Kyvelidou and Jennifer Yentes.

Wickstrom’s research seeks to improve early assessment of Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) through identifying early differences in motor development (specifically sitting posture control), eye gaze behavior, and social brain activation. Her findings could provide insight into the underlying factors contributing to developmental delays, improve early detection, and aid development of interventions to improve the quality of life for individuals with ASD.

The Buffett Institute Graduate Scholars program is intended to reach across traditional higher education boundaries, supporting high-quality research from diverse fields that impact young children, including health, education, social work, music, art, the neurosciences, and others. Multidisciplinary research and practice—particularly from disciplines not typically associated with the field of early childhood education—and new methodologies are encouraged. Scholars work with their faculty mentors on a dissertation that represents an in-depth exploration of early childhood issues. 

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