The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at UMass Amherst is proud to announce the appointment of Dr. Jennifer Martin McDermott as Interim Rudd Family Foundation Chair in Psychology, effective September 1, 2023. During her term as Interim Rudd Chair, Dr. McDermott will provide leadership for Rudd programming, including organizing the Rudd Visiting Professorship program and facilitating interdisciplinary working groups to tackle pressing adoption related issues, and collaborate with scholars and practitioners to inform policy efforts to support adopted children and their families.
She will also lead the search process for the new Rudd Chair, who will succeed Dr. Harold Grotevant, Inaugural Rudd Chair, now Emeritus. Dr. Grotevant stated, “I am thrilled that Dr. McDermott will be leading the Rudd Program and the search for the next Rudd Chair. As a developmental psychologist with a broad understanding of the issues involved with adoption in all its forms, she is positioned to continue the progress we have made in the past 15 years and provide a smooth transition for the next Chair.”
Dr. McDermott received her doctoral degree in Human Development from the University of Maryland, College Park with a specialization in Developmental Science. After completing postdoctoral work at the Waisman Center in Madison Wisconsin, she joined the faculty at UMass Amherst in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences. Dr. McDermott’s program of research focuses on the development of children’s self-regulation, with an emphasis on understanding the role of early adverse experience in relation to cognitive and emotional development. Her collaborative work assessing children in international orphanage care, as well as domestic foster care settings, has shown that negative developmental effects arising from early adversity can be partially ameliorated by high-quality caregiving interventions.
Dr. McDermott’s research and work as a faculty mentor corresponds with the mission of the Rudd Program, which is to advance knowledge about the psychology of adoption through innovative and collaborative research; mentor the next generation of adoption-competent researchers; engage with community partners and provide research-based information to influence practice and policy at agency, state, federal, and international levels.
Dr. McDermott shares, “I am honored to be working with the Rudd program staff, affiliated scholars, and community partners to carry forward the momentum of this program. In the coming year we will remain focused on advancing research knowledge and informing collaborative efforts that center the needs of children and families involved in foster, kinship and adoption-related care.”
This November, the Rudd Program looks forward to supporting colleagues at the Treehouse Foundation at the upcoming Re-envisioning Foster Care (REFCA) conference in Boston, MA. Members of the Rudd program, including current and former scholars, will also be presenting at the International Conference on Adoption (ICAR) in Minneapolis, MN in spring of 2024.