Start Early. Start well.

Graduate Scholars

The Buffett Early Childhood Institute Graduate Scholars program awards 1-year fellowships worth up to $25,000 to a maximum of four doctoral students every year. The program is designed to foster the growth of diverse, exceptional graduate students conducting research about young children and their families, with particular attention to children placed at risk as a consequence of poverty and social and environmental circumstances. It 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. Information about applying for 2020-21 fellowships will be coming early next year.

2019-20 Graduate Scholars

Alethea Chiappone

Alethea Chiappone
University of Nebraska Medical Center

Alethea Chiappone is working to develop a mobile app to measure the adoption and implementation of healthy eating and active living policies and practices in family child care homes. The app will use photos taken by family child care providers to examine these healthy policies and practices. Chiappone and her team also will develop an accompanying tool to analyze the photos that are submitted through the mobile app. The app will equip program implementers with quality data that will help them deliver healthy eating and active living support that’s tailored to family child care providers. Several healthy interventions have demonstrated success in promoting effective practices, but limited research exists on these interventions with family child care providers, who are more likely to care for children from low-income households, rural communities, and/or racial or ethnic minority groups.

Her faculty mentor is Dr. Brandon Grimm.

 
Elizabeth Preas

Elizabeth Preas
University of Nebraska Medical Center

Elizabeth Preas, of Cooper, Texas, a psychology student at the Munroe-Meyer Institute at the University of Nebraska Medical Center. Preas is performing an efficacy and efficiency evaluation of real-time feedback for training caregivers to teach daily living skills to children who are on the autism spectrum. Caregivers are a vital contributor to positive child outcomes, but they often have home, work, financial and other responsibilities that make it difficult for them to take part in training. Some studies of the real-time feedback training approach have shown promise; thus, this project aims to gather more evidence and evaluate methods that reduce the cost and time of training caregivers.

Her faculty mentor is Dr. Therese Mathews.

 
Yinbo Wu

Yinbo Wu
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Yinbo Wu, of Hangzhou, China, a psychology student at the University of Nebraska  Lincoln. Yinbo is examining the relationship between parenting, attention, and working memory in young children. This study explores how parenting quality and attention are associated with verbal and spatial working memory in children 3 years, 6 months to 4 years, 6 months of age. The findings will clarify the roles of parenting and attention in working memory development in early childhood. The findings could help determine whether working memory interventions that incorporate attention training and parenting interventions will result in working memory improvement.

Her faculty mentor is Dr. Anne Schutte.

 

2018-19 Graduate Scholars

Tuyen Huynh

Tuyen Huynh
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Tuyen Huynh, of Philadelphia, a student in human sciences in the Department of Child, Youth, and Family Studies at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln. Tuyen is conducting a mixed-methods pilot study examining the effectiveness of the Circle of Security parenting intervention program coupled 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.

Her faculty mentor is Dr. Julia C. Torquati.

 
Andrew Riquier

Andrew Riquier
University of Nebraska at Omaha

Andrew Riquier, of Chaplin, Connecticut, a student in neuroscience and behavior in the Department of Psychology at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. 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.

His faculty mentor is Dr. Suzanne Sollars.

 
Shreya Roy

Shreya Roy
University of Nebraska Medical Center

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. 
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.

Her faculty mentor is Dr. Fernando Wilson.

 

2017-18 graduate Scholars

Sonya Bhatia

Sonya Bhatia
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Sonya Bhatia, of Lisle, Ill., a school psychology student in the Department of Educational Psychology and affiliated with the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families, and Schools at the University of Nebraska ̶ Lincoln. 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.

Her faculty mentor is Dr. Susan Sheridan.

 

 
Amy Colgrove

Amy Colgrove
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Colgrove, of Naperville, Ill., is a student in human sciences in the Department of Child, Youth, and Family Studies at the University of Nebraska ̶ Lincoln. 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. 

Her faculty mentor is Dr. Victoria Molfese.

 

Jordan Wickstrom

Jordan Wickstrom
University of Nebraska at Omaha

Wickstrom, of Columbus, Neb., is a student in exercise science (concentration in motor development and control) in the Department of Biomechanics at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. 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.

Her faculty mentors are Dr. Anastasia Kyvelidou and Dr. Jennifer Yentes.

 


2016-17 graduate Scholars

Jon Cavanaugh

Jon Cavanaugh
University of Nebraska at Omaha

Cavanaugh, of Mont Vernon, N.H., is a student in the neuroscience and behavior program in the Department of Psychology at UNO.  Cavanaugh's research focused 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). 

His faculty mentor is Dr. Jeffrey French.
Abbey Gregg

Abbey Gregg
University of Nebraska Medical Center

Gregg, of Omaha, is a student in health services research and administration in the College of Public Health at UNMC. Gregg investigated how school-based health centers can deliver primary medical care to children from low-income families. Gregg's research sought to 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. 

Her faculty mentor is Dr. Li-Wu Chen.

Amanda Moen

Amanda Moen
University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Moen, of Frisco, Texas, is a student in the Department of Educational Psychology and the Nebraska Center for Research on Children, Youth, Families, and Schools at UNL. Moen's project aimed to contribute a valid and psychometrically sound measure for assessing and supporting family-school partnerships to the field. The importance of family-school and parent-teacher partnerships is essential for supporting children's development and learning. 

Her faculty mentor is Dr. Susan Sheridan.

FAQ on the Buffett Institute Graduate Scholars program

For more information about the scholars program, please contact Melissa Boyer at mboyer@nebraska.edu.

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