Start Early. Start well.

August 15, 2018

Buffett Institute Awards Graduate Fellowships for 2018-19

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 third 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 happy to continue our support of talented doctoral students at the University of Nebraska,” said Samuel J. Meisels, founding executive director of the Buffett Institute. “The work of these scholars and the support of their mentors is notable, and we are eager to learn more from them.”

The 2018-19 fellowship recipients are:

  • Tuyen Huynh, of Philadelphia, a student in human sciences in the Department of Child, Youth, and Family Studies at the University of Nebraska ΜΆ Lincoln. Faculty mentor: Dr. Julia C. Torquati. Tuyen is conducting a mixed-methods pilot study examining the effectiveness of a parenting intervention program (Circle of Security-Parenting) enhanced with mindful self-compassion to promote healthier parent-child relationships. The study, to be conducted with University of Nebraska Extension educators working with parents of young children, is looking at whether mindful self-compassion is effective at lowering parental stress by providing effective self-regulation strategies.
  • Andrew Riquier, of Chaplin, Connecticut, a student in neuroscience and behavior in the Department of Psychology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. Faculty mentor: Dr. Suzanne Sollars. Riquier is testing a drug therapy protocol targeting immune cells of the central nervous system that could lead to future prevention and treatment of developmental neural connectivity disorders such as autism. During early brain development, the immune cells known as microglia are crucial for the pruning and maturation of neural connections. Microglia dysfunction and inadequate pruning have been linked to the development of autism spectrum disorder. Riquier’s research will be conducted with laboratory rats.
  • Shreya Roy, of New Delhi, India, a student in health services research, administration, and policy in the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Faculty mentor: Dr. Fernando Wilson. Roy is studying how Medicaid expansion for adults under the Affordable Care Act affects children’s health and educational outcomes. The study, which will look at a nationally representative sample of children ages 2 to 8, will examine whether Medicaid expansion for adults results in more preventive health care for their children, and whether that translates to better learning outcomes in early childhood. The study will also describe a model for pediatric care coordination for health care providers, schools, and early-intervention programs to improve the outcomes of children from low-income families.

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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