Shannon Gair and Sarah McCormick awarded Dissertation Completion Fellowships

Shannon Gair and Sarah McCormick have been awarded Dissertation Completion Fellowships funded by the Graduate School with additional support from the Provost’s Office.

The Dissertation Completion Fellowship was designed by Dean of the Graduate School Jacqueline Urla to help students complete their dissertation after Covid-related disruptions. “Our graduate students have faced so many challenges due to Covid, from loss of access to labs and archives, having to redesign their research, care for small children, and even battling Covid themselves. Despite these challenges they have persevered. This fellowship gives recipients a semester to focus on their research and writing, bring their dissertation to completion, and earn their degree,” said Urla.

Shannon GairShannon Gair
Dissertation title: Reciprocal Effects of Parent Emotion Socialization and Child Emotion Expression During Dyadic Interactions

Long term, emotion socialization (how parents teach children about emotion) affects child development and child functioning affects parent emotion socialization. However, little research has assessed short-term emotion socialization processes within dyadic interactions. Understanding how short-term processes maintain long-term maladaptive emotion socialization patterns within families, and identifying at-risk families, has important theoretical and intervention implications. My dissertation aims to assess: 1) bidirectional relations of parent emotion socialization and child emotional expression within dyadic interactions; 2) parent and child psychopathology as moderators of these transactional relations; 3) how early differences in dyadic patterns predict child psychopathology trajectories.

Sarah McCormickSarah McCormick
Dissertation title: Familial and environmental contributions to child theory of mind development

Theory of mind is a social cognitive domain, reflecting the understanding that internal mental states motivate outward behavior, that develops rapidly over the preschool time period. While critical for healthy social development, less is known about the how aspects of the family environment interact to influence this development or the neural mechanisms that support it. Several decades of research have demonstrated behaviorally that aspects of parent behavior and language are associated with theory of mind skill use in early childhood. Many of the earliest social interactions occur with parents within the family context and little research to date has examined how household environmental factors may moderate the associations between parent behavior and language and child theory of mind development. Aspects of household functioning, such as household chaos, may serve to disrupt the positive interactions between parents and children that benefit early social cognitive development. Further, very little is known about the neural mechanisms that support early theory of mind development and how structural differences in the brain may be associated with parent language use. My dissertation investigates the interactions between aspects of the family and home environment on the behavioral development of theory of mind and the neural structures that support this skill in early childhood.