The BBS Program offers a concentration in Developmental Science. This concentration is designed to train scientists to address questions of both basic and applied research from a developmental perspective, with enough flexibility in the program to allow for specialized research concentrations (in areas ranging from infant attention to health to vision science to neuroscience to family relationships). Faculty and students within the Developmental concentration often engage in interdisciplinary research. We are fortunate to have colleagues in other departments and research centers on campus who teach classes and offer collaborative research opportunities that may intersect with our students’ interests and training goals. Many of our Developmental students have taken courses or conducted research collaborations with faculty in the Departments of Educational Psychology, School Psychology, Kinesiology, Human Development and Family Science, Foods and Nutrition, or faculty affiliated with the Center for Family Research.
Core BBS Developmental Faculty
Dr. Katie Ehrlich studies how children’s social experiences shape their mental and physical health. Her laboratory utilizes a variety of research methods to evaluate social and emotional functioning, including structured behavioral observations, clinical interviews, self-reports, and performance-based tasks. In addition, she incorporates clinical health measures and indices of cellular function and adaptive immunity. Current projects examine (a) the links between social experiences and children’s antibody production following vaccination, (b) intergenerational transmission of health disparities among African American families, and (c) skin deep resilience, depression risk, and cognitive development in adolescence.
Laboratory: Health and Development Laboratory
Dr. Dorothy Fragaszy studies flexible instrumental behavior (problem-solving), perception, manipulation, and skill learning in primates. She considers the developmental bases of flexible behavior, and the contribution of social learning and social context to the expression of flexible behavior. She primarily studies capuchin monkeys (Sapajus and Cebus; South American monkeys) and adopts ecological and embodied perspectives to study behavior. Dr. Fragaszy collaborates with many colleagues studying wild tool-using capuchin monkeys in Brazil, and in laboratory studies of spatial cognition, perception and action.
Laboratory: Primate Cognition and Behavior Lab
Dr. Janet Frick studies individual and developmental differences in infant visual attention, with a primary focus on the cognitive and social influences of early attention, learning, and memory. She utilizes both laboratory and community-based observational studies of infant and toddler behavior. Some of her recent collaborative work has included examination of nutritional influences on the early development and function of the visual system, with a focus on how such individual differences impact early learning and memory.
Laboratory: Infant Research Laboratory
Dr. Anne Shaffer studies social and emotional processes in families and close relationships. She is currently studying how intensive parenting behaviors are linked to poorer mental health and systemic inflammation in parents.
Affiliated Developmental Faculty
Dr. Steven Beach is interested in the interconnected nature of problems in the family, problems with depression, and health-related outcomes. He also has focused on identifying ways to utilize social relationships as a method of enhancing health and well-being by constructing or enhancing resilience-promoting social resources (Brody, Yu, & Beach, 2016). His current work focuses on identifying biological markers, inflammatory processes, and epigenetic mediators of environmentally triggered effects on health and health behavior (Beach, Lei, Brody, Miller, Chen, Mandara, Philibert, 2017). This work contributes to the understanding of modifiable environmental factors that may indirectly drive biological and behavioral risk processes. Of particular interest are biological effects of family and social relationships.
Laboratory: Beach Laboratory
Dr. Ron Blount studies medical adherence, quality of life and adjustment to illness, medical outcomes, transition from pediatric to adult medical care, and related topics. His primary patient research groups include solid organ transplant recipients, patients with inflammatory bowel disease, cardiac conditions, and their families. Additionally, he has a variety of pediatric research interests and is currently or has recently conducted research on therapeutic camps and Tourette syndrome.
Laboratory: UGA Pediatric Psychology Lab
Dr. Justin Lavner is interested in interventions to promote physical, mental, and relational health among couples and families. He is currently conducting a randomized controlled trial testing two interventions for first-time African American mothers and their newborn infants aimed at reducing health disparities early in the lifespan.
Dr. Cindy Suveg is director of the Development and Psychopathology Lab, whose overarching goal is to examine contextual factors that facilitate and/or impede development in youth. Guided by the notion that development is best informed by studying pathways that lead to both adaptation and maladaptation, our research specifically investigates emotion regulation processes in typical and atypically developing child populations and incorporates a multi-reporter and multimethod assessment strategy (questionnaires, behavioral observations, electronic diaries, physiological assessment).