Is it a normal childhood tantrum or an early sign of mental illness?

upset child with hands covering their face

Psychologist awarded NIH grant to develop at-home tracking of young kids’ outbursts

A University of Massachusetts Amherst psychologist will use a newly awarded, two-year, $428,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to further develop and test mobile health devices worn by parents and young children that track – and perhaps can help predict – preschoolers’ tantrums.

The technology may also one day be able to identify “clinically significant tantrums,” assessing kids at high risk for mental illness, says Adam Grabell, assistant professor of psychological and brain sciences, who studies early childhood development in his Self-regulation, Emotions and Early Development (SEED) Lab.

Tammy Rahhal awarded Chancellor’s Leadership Fellowship

Tammy Rahhal
Tammy Rahhal

The Office of Faculty Development has announced Tammy Rahhal, senior lecturer II and associate chair of teaching and chief undergraduate advisor of psychological and brain sciences, as a recipient of a Chancellor’s Leadership Fellowship for the 2022-23 academic year. 

Provost and Senior Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs Tricia Serio says “I am thrilled to work with and learn alongside the Chancellor’s Leadership Fellows this year. Their projects integrate their expertise and knowledge of our campus with a new context to advance both their leadership development and our mission in new and creative ways.”

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.