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Catherine Diercks

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Catherine Diercks

Catherine Diercks is a second-year student in the Developmental Ph.D. program. Catherine’s primary research interest is in how parents’ mental skills, such as flexible thinking, self-control, and working memory, may play a role in the onset of child neglect. Catherine’s primary mentor is Dr. Erika Lunkenheimer. Catherine attended the University of Oregon, where she received a Bachelor of Science in Psychology. Catherine launched her research work as an undergrad by working in the Department of Psychology, the Prevention Science Institute, and the Pearl Buck Center, achieving 4 years of strong training and research experience.

Since arriving at Penn State, Catherine co-authored a work published by the Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, presented her work at numerous conferences, and mentors and trains undergrads. She recently joined Professor Doug Teti’s lab to build her knowledge around preventive interventions and program evaluation. She has also pursued multiple, complex training methods to enhance and enrich her research.

The Strumpf Scholar Award will allow Catherine to further her research into risk factors that lead to child neglect with the goal of identifying malleable targets for change. She expects to publish findings helping to alleviate an important gap in literature within this area of study. She also plans to tailor her own unique research program examining whether parents’ mental skills mediate a relation between parent risk factors for neglect and neglectful parenting. She is especially grateful for the award because it provides the means to use an innovative data collection tool, Amazon’s Mechanical Turk, which would not otherwise have been feasible. Catherine is excited to immerse herself in the field of translational science and get a head start on an academic career investigating processes related to child maltreatment towards the goal of informing real-world change.