Start Early. Start well.

September 08, 2016

Buffett Institute Awards Graduate Fellowships for Promising Research

The Buffett Early Childhood Institute has awarded one-year grants to three doctoral students in the university system under a new fellowship program.

The Buffett Early Childhood Institute Graduate Scholars program provides financial support and mentoring for advanced students and is designed to foster the growth of diverse, exceptional graduate students conducting research about young children and their families. The program 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 tremendously excited to recognize and support the research efforts of these three doctoral students who are drawing on multiple fields to study issues important to young children and their families,” said Samuel J. Meisels, founding executive director of the Buffett Institute. “We also applaud the efforts of their faculty mentors who provide critical support and help make possible a deeper level of inquiry and research.” 

The 2016-17 fellowship recipients are:

  • Jon Cavanaugh, of Mont Vernon, N.H., a student in the neuroscience and behavior program in the Department of Psychology at the University of Nebraska Omaha. Faculty mentor: Dr. Jeffrey French.

    Cavanaugh's research focuses on the effects of oxytocin on social motivation and social attractiveness in early development. This work, using young marmosets, is especially important, given the lack of pre-clinical work on using oxytocin in children suffering from social disorders (e.g., autism, social anxiety). 

  • Abbey Gregg, of Omaha, a student in health services research and administration in the College of Public Health at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Faculty mentor: Dr. Li-Wu Chen.

    regg will investigate how school-based health centers can deliver primary medical care to children from low-income families. Gregg's research will clarify how school-based health centers can organize themselves to implement progressive and promising concepts such as patient-centered care. This study has clear practical and policy implications particularly around using "school as a hub" as one mechanism to support young children's development and learning. 

  • Amanda Moen, of Frisco, Texas, a 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. Susan Sheridan.

    Moen's project will contribute a valid and psychometrically sound measure for assessing and supporting family-school partnerships to the field. The importance of family-s chool and parent-teacher partnerships is essential for supporting children's development and learning. 

    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. The Buffett Institute facilitates the creation of opportunities for graduate students and mentors to communicate, network, and collaborate with one another.

    A reception honoring the graduate scholars and their faculty mentors will be held on Sept. 8 at UNO.

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