Research

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Each member of the Core Faculty is involved in developmental research. Dr. Ornstein, Dr. Reznick, and Dr. Cheatham are primarily interested in cognitive topics. Dr. Gariepy, Dr. Kurtz-Costes, Dr. Seaton, Dr. Shanahan, and Dr. Cox are primarily interested in social development. The Core Faculty have various shared interests and collaborations. All of these faculty are involved in the Durham Child Health and Human Development Study. Below is a list of topics that the Developmental faculty are currently engaged in.

These themes reflect the ongoing or proposed research interests of the core members of our faculty. We are most likely to accept students for graduate training who are interested in one or more of these themes. [Note that we also accept some students to work directly with our affiliated faculty. See their website links for more information about their interests.]

Carol L. Cheatham

  • Nutrition individuality and its effect on the development of cognitive and social behaviors. 
  • The effects of nutrition on the development of the brain as manifest in coincident behaviors. 
  • Electrophysiological indices of individual differences in cognitive development. 

Martha J. Cox – FPG & Durham Child Study

  • Biological, family relationship, and broader ecological processes in the development of child emotional regulation.
  • Cultural, contextual, and child factors associated with variations in adaptive parent-child relationships.
  • Attachment relationships across the life span.
  • Adaptations of families to life transitions at multiple levels of the family system.
  • Families in rural settings.
  • The role of family relationships in the social and emotional development of children. 
  • Low income and family coping in rural and urban environments.

Jean-Louis Gariepy

  • The genetics and neurobiology of aggressive behaviors.
  • The plasticity and reversibility of behavioral adaptation.
  • The integration of neurohormonal, behavioral and social-ecological processes over development.

Beth Kurtz-Costes

  • The development of children’s self-esteem, attributional beliefs, and achievement striving.
  • Race socialization in African American families, identity development, and academic achievement.

Peter A. Ornstein

  • Young children’s long-term retention of salient, personally-experienced events.
  • Influences on the ability of young children to provide accurate testimony in legal situations.
  • How teachers facilitate the emergence of skilled remembering in the first and second grades.
  • Mother-child conversations about the past and the emergence of deliberate memory strategies.

Steven Reznick

  • The development of memory (particularly, working memory) and its relation to other cognitive abilities.
  • Early detection of autism. 
  • The cognitive manifestations of autism in infants.

Eleanor K. Seaton

  • Adolescent perceptions of racial discrimination and their impact on development among African American and Caribbean Black Youth. 
  • The development and content of racial identity among African American adolescents.
  • The relation between racial identity and perceived discrimination among African American Youth.

Lilly Shanahan

  • Development of depression and anxiety from childhood to young adulthood.
  • Integrating models of psychosocial (e.g., family dysfunction) and biological risk (e.g., inflammation).
  • Intersection of mental and physical health in the early life course.
  • Sex differences in development.

Beth Kurtz-Costes and Steve Reznick

  • Cultural differences in parental beliefs and behaviors that influence infant and child development.