Brooks-Gunn to present 2012 Bennett Lecture in Prevention Science

November 05, 2012

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- Jeanne Brooks-Gunn, Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Child Development and Education at Teachers College and the College of Physicians and Surgeons, will give the 2012 Bennett Lecture in Prevention Science at 4 p.m. Nov. 15, in the Bennett Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building. The lecture, titled “Disadvantage and Development: Strategies to Reduce Income Gaps in School Readiness,” is sponsored by the Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development at Penn State through the Bennett Endowment to the center. It is free and open to the public.

Brooks-Gunn is a developmental psychologist specializing in policy-oriented research that focuses on family and community influences on the development of young children. Her research centers on the design and evaluation of interventions and policies aimed at enhancing the well-being of children living in poverty. She looks at factors that contribute to both positive and negative outcomes (and changes in well-being) across childhood, adolescence and adulthood, with a particular focus on key social and biological transitions -- such as in schooling, family structure and dynamics, parenthood, puberty, sexual onset and pregnancy -- over the life course.

In addition to serving as the Virginia and Leonard Marx Professor of Child Development and Education at Teachers College and the College of Physicians and Surgeons, Brooks-Gunn is a co-director of the National Center for Children and Families at Teachers College and a co-director of the Institute for Child and Family Policy at Columbia University

At the National Center for Children and Family Studies, Brooks Gunn is involved with several large research and intervention projects. These include the Early Head Start Follow-Up Study, which is evaluating outcomes at age 10 for children who participated in Early Head Start as infants or toddlers. She is also conducting a long-term follow-up of the Infant Health and Development Program, an eight-site randomized trial assessing the efficacy of early childhood education and home visiting on the outcomes of low birth-weight children, followed through age 18. She is conducting a series of studies and evaluations of After School Matters, looking at the effects of extracurricular activities, community activities, and extended day programs on well-being in childhood, adolescence and young adulthood.

Brooks-Gunn also is one of the principle investigators for the Project on Human Development in Chicago Neighborhoods, a study of 7,000 children in 80 neighborhoods over an eight-year period. Current analyses are focusing on ethnic, gender, immigrant and neighborhood influences on the timing of puberty, sexual onset and pregnancy, and on changes in anxious, depressive and aggressive behaviors from ages 3 to 20. In addition, she is spearheading the Child Care, Schooling and Parental Employment in Fragile Families project, which is adding a child care module to the Fragile Families Study, including child assessments and interviews with providers and parents. She is also responsible for the component of Fragile Families focusing on the schooling experiences of children.

Brooks-Gunn is the author or co-author of more than 500 journal articles and chapters, four books and 13 volumes. She is the recipient of numerous major awards and honors, including election into the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies and American Educational Research Association, and receipt of the Award for Distinguished Contributions to Public Policy for Children from the Society for Research in Child Development and the James McKeen Cattell Fellow Award from the American Psychological Society.

Recent Bennett Lecturers have included Thomas Dishion, professor of psychology and director of the Child and Family Center at the University of Oregon; Roger Weissberg, Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Education and president of the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning at the University of Illinois at Chicago; G. Alan Marlatt, professor of psychology and director of the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington; Mary Jane Rotheram-Borus, Bat-Yaacov Professor of Child Psychiatry and Biobehavioral Sciences, director of the Global Center for Children and Families and director of the Center for HIV Identification Prevention and Treatment Services, all at the University of California at Los Angeles; and Matthew Sanders, professor of clinical psychology and director of the Parenting and Family Support Centre at the University of Queensland in Australia.


  • Jeanne Brooks-Gunn will speak Nov. 15 in the Bennett Pierce Living Center.

    IMAGE: Penn State

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Last Updated January 09, 2015