Alumni Profile: Heather Kirkorian ‘07PhD

Heather Kirkorian smiling
Heather Kirkorian ‘07PhD

Improving childhood learning using interactive media

Heather Kirkorian, Laura M. Secord Chair in Early Childhood Development and Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin—Madison began her career as a developmental psychologist at UMass Amherst under the mentorship of Professor Emeritus Dan Anderson. They explored the effects of educational media on childhood learning and attention, seeking out ways to make programming more beneficial.

Rebecca Ready among inaugural group of CNS Leadership Fellows

Two faculty members and one graduate student have been awarded College of Natural Sciences Leadership Fellowships for 2022-2023

Rebecca Ready
Rebecca Ready

Established by Dean Tricia Serio, this program is designed to foster leadership and professional development in faculty and graduate students and to promote initiatives related to diversity, equity, and inclusion. Each of the fellows was selected to work with one of the CNS Associate Deans on projects within their respective offices.

Rebecca Ready, professor of Psychological and Brain Sciences, will be working with Karen Helfer, Associate Dean for Graduate, Postdoctoral, and Faculty Development. Dr. Ready’s project will be to develop initiatives to improve success in recruiting and retaining BIPOC graduate students.

Implicit bias and concern about appearing racist predict teachers’ reluctance to discuss race and racism in the classroom

icon of teacher at blackboardUMass Amherst research aims to help equip teachers to engage in crucial conversations

Linda Tropp examined how teachers’ implicit racial biases and concerns about appearing racist may affect their intentions and confidence about engaging their students in race talk. 

How Do Teachers Understand Adoption (and what can parents do about it)

Rudd Family Foundation Chair Hal Grotevant and 2021 Rudd Family Visiting Professor Abbie Goldberg are featured in the podcast "How Do Teachers Understand Adoption (and what can parents do about it)."

This podcast is based on research they conducted together when Goldberg was Rudd Family Visiting Professor in 2021. The project involved a nationwide sample of K-12 teachers, and asked what they knew about adoption, how they use that knowledge, and what they wished they knew. 

Can negative emotions affect learning and decision-making, leading to suicidal behaviors in at-risk individuals?

painting of face of woman with muted colors

People diagnosed with borderline personality disorder (BPD) can exhibit problem behaviors that result from impulsivity. PhD Student Elinor Waite and Associate Professor Katherine Dixon-Gordon of the Clinical Affective Science Lab (CASL) have theorized that during these impulsive moments, an individual may not have learned from the negative consequences of their past actions. The researchers wanted to find out if emotions affect learning in a way that makes processing potential consequences more difficult. Their study, published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research, focused on people at-risk of engaging in suicidal behaviors, testing whether their emotional state could ultimately impede decision-making.

Community-engagement preventive intervention promotes mental health of Bhutanese families in Western Massachusetts

Bhutanese families pose with Kalpana Poudel-TandukarUMass Amherst researchers are implementing NIH-supported, family-centered program to aid immigrants in the U.S.

After years of working with Bhutanese community members in Western Massachusetts, a team led by a University of Massachusetts Amherst researcher has developed a peer-led, family-centered preventive intervention to reduce stress, anxiety and depressive symptoms and promote mental health among immigrants in the U.S.

Welcoming new Department Chair Maureen Perry-Jenkins

Maureen Perry-JenkinsThe Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences (PBS) is pleased to announce that Professor Maureen Perry-Jenkins has been elected Department Chair, serving a three-year term.

Perry-Jenkins is a nationally renowned scholar whose contributions on the national, state, regional, and university levels have had a profound impact on family research. Her work focuses on the ways in which socio-cultural factors such as race, gender, and social class shape the mental health and family relationships of parents and their children.

Study aims to understand the psychology that threatens American democracy

red and blue figures in political demonstrationAmid an unprecedented democratic decline in the U.S., a new report by Beyond Conflict, co-authored by UMass Amherst social psychologist Linda Tropp, analyzes America’s current social divides through the lens of social science to understand how threats – both real and perceived – shape our sense of identity, our feelings of belonging and our perceptions of status and power relations in society.