Our new graduate training area in Developmental Psychology is designed to link with our other established areas to prepare well-trained psychologists able to conduct methodologically rigorous and socially meaningful behavioral science in the service of understanding development. We aim to produce graduates with knowledge across the sub-disciplines of psychology and sensitivity to the practical significance and broad impact of developmental research.
The Developmental area is one of four total areas of training emphasis in the department, along with Neuroscience, Perception/Cognition, and Social psychology. Graduate students in our department receive broadly-based training through coursework and mentored research experiences. Graduate students also have access to training through two new research units on campus affiliated with our department: the Rutgers Neuroimaging Center, funded cooperatively by Rutgers and the National Science Foundation.
Currently our Developmental area includes three members of the graduate faculty:
Dr. Elizabeth Bonawitz, Assistant Professor of Psychology (cognitive development and computational modeling, causal and social inference, conceptual change). Dr. Bonawitz directs the Computational Cognitive Development Lab and has active projects investigating how infants, preschoolers, and adults revise their beliefs about the world. Combining tools from probability theory, machine learning, and AI with empirical studies of children's development, she asks: how do children take noisy, ambiguous data from the environment to form rich, abstract, causal representations of the world? In a recent set of studies, she is exploring how children discover relevant hypotheses (explanations) for novel events, how assumptions about others and the environment change the process of hypothesis discovery, and how this process changes over development.
Dr. Paul Boxer, Professor of Psychology (aggressive/antisocial behavior, developmental psychopathology, prevention/intervention). Dr. Boxer directs the Social Development Research Program and has active projects investigating the impact of violence in the social environment on psychosocial functioning, including a long-term study of children's development in the Middle East and a series of projects examining the impact of prison experiences on readjustment to the community. Boxer also partners with community-based youth service agencies to investigate the effectiveness of interventions for antisocial behavior and delinquency.
Dr. Vanessa LoBue, Assistant Professor of Psychology (infancy, emotional development, threat perception). Dr. LoBue directs the Child Study Center and currently is investigating how infants, young children, and adults perceive and learn about emotionally valenced stimuli. In her work, she asks: How do humans respond to emotional stimuli? Are emotionally valenced stimuli perceived faster than neutral stimuli? Does valence affect the way humans learn about objects?
Dr. Miriam Rosenberg-Lee, Assistant Professor of Psychology (functional neuroimaging of mathematical cognition; cognitive development; learning disabilities; cognition in autism spectrum disorders; learning and reasoning.). Dr. Rosenberg-Lee directs the Mathematics, Reasoning and Learning Lab and has active projects investigating how children, adolescents and adults learn mathematical information. Combining functional neuroimaging with outside the scanner learning programs, she asks: what brain activity patterns do proficient learners display? How are these patterns different in children with mathematical learning disabilities and autism spectrum disorders? What types of learning programs are most effective in these populations?
Dr. Gretchen Van de Walle, Associate Professor of Psychology (conceptual development, language acquisition, bilingualism). Dr. Van de Walle directs the Infant Cognition Center and has active projects investigating language acquisition in young monolingual and bilingual children, as well as language processing in bilingual adults. She is also investigating infants' understanding of the distinction between animate agents and inanimate objects. In collaboration with a graduate student, she has recently launched a series of studies investigating the role of parent-child interaction in early conceptual development.
Other department faculty members study relevant topics including attachment, infant visual perception, socialization of stereotypes, and learning. Our Developmental faculty members have active collaborations with other units on campus including the School of Criminal Justice, the Department of Classical and Modern Languages and Literatures, the Department of Social Work, and the Department of Philosophy. We also participate in national as well as international collaborations with faculty at other universities.
Graduate students in the Department of psychology typically receive funding for five years of study, which includes tuition waivers and stipends through a mix of fellowships and assistantships.