Celene Domitrovich, assistant director of the Prevention Research Center at Penn State University, has been awarded a Joseph E. Zins Award for Action Research in Social and Emotional Learning. The award is given to one researcher each year by the Collaborative for Academic, Social, and Emotional Learning (CASEL), an organization devoted to promoting the success of children in school and life.
Domitrovich received the award -- which is reserved for an early-career scientist who specializes in research on social and emotional learning -- because of her outstanding work as a researcher and scholar and her dedication to improving the lives of children.
“Celene is a stellar scholar and a wonderful colleague whose early career has been both diverse and accomplished,” said Mark Greenberg, director of the Prevention Research Center. “Not only has she been a developer of interventions and an evaluator of existing interventions, but she also has made substantial contributions to determining how research results can be implemented into schools. She also has contributed to understanding of what qualities lead to good teaching and how to facilitate these qualities in teachers, and to developing hybrid, integrative models of social and emotional learning. Her vision, work, and influence are multifaceted and comprehensive, and are already having a major impact on research in the field of social and emotional learning.”
Domitrovich was presented with the award at the 2011 CASEL Forum held in Washington, D.C. on April 14. “It was such a good feeling to be recognized by an organization whose mission I believe in as much as CASEL’s,” she said.
Domitrovich’s research focuses on the development of social and emotional competence in young children, the role of teachers in children’s acquisition of these skills, and the ways in which these skills are related to children’s success in school. In particular, she develops interventions and investigates ways to implement these interventions into schools. For example, she is part of a research team at Johns Hopkins University that is testing the integration into elementary schools of PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies), a program for educators that is designed to facilitate the development of self-control, emotional awareness, and interpersonal problem-solving skills, and the Good Behavior Game, an approach that rewards children for displaying appropriate behaviors during instructional times. Domitrovich also is working to integrate into middle schools the programs Developmental Designs, which helps students develop their social skills, take responsibility for their environment, and learn to solve both social and academic problems, and Lion’s Quest, which helps foster in young people important life skills, healthy attitudes, strong character, positive relationships, and active citizenship.
Domitrovich assumed the role of assistant director of the Penn State Prevention Research Center in 1998. Researchers in the center examine how communities can work together with families, schools, community groups and industries to promote healthy lifestyles for children, youth, and families. Prior to that, she was a supervisor for the FAST Track Program at Penn State, which focuses on the development and implementation of therapeutic recreation programs and social-skills programs for high-risk children. She also has served as an instructor at Penn State since 1997 and as a therapist for the Penn State Psychological Clinic since 1999.
Domitrovich is a member of the Society for Research in Child Development and the Society for Prevention Research. She has given several presentations at national and international conferences. She earned a doctorate degree and a master’s degree in child clinical psychology at Penn State in 1998 and 1994, respectively, and a bachelor’s degree in psychology at the University of Rochester in 1990.
The Joseph E. Zins awards honor the memory and promote the work and lifelong professional passions of Joseph Zins, a researcher who died in 2006 at the age of 56. Zins cared deeply about growing the field of social and emotional learning and recognizing the importance of research to guide practice.