Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Elizabeth Shewark

Elizabeth Shewark received an F32 Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award Individual Postdoctoral Fellowship and is completing this fellowship at Michigan State University with Dr. Alexandra Burt. At Michigan State, Liz is examining the context of competence and the roles of neighborhood, genotype, and development. Currently, she has three first-authored publications.

In 2019, Liz graduated from the Penn State Developmental Psychology PhD program under the mentorship of Dr. Jenae Neiderhiser. Her dissertation was titled, “Parent-Child and Teacher-Child Relationships: The Role of the Child.” As a graduate student, she examined the development of children’s social and emotional competency, within the context of the family and schools, using a behavioral genetics framework. More specifically, she studied the role of the child in the family and classroom contexts, and the mechanisms by which children impact and are impacted by their relationships via gene-environment interplay. Her dissertation work examined genetic influences on the child and how that association may evoke different or similar responses across the family and school contexts and subsequently impact later adjustment. Elizabeth was particularly interested in using advanced methodology and statistical techniques to further understand interpersonal relationships and children’s social and emotional development. She received many awards, including the 2012–2013 Strumpf Liberal Arts Centennial Graduate Scholarship, Psi Chi’s Teaching Assistant of the Year Award for 2014, a PSU Global Travel Award, and RGSO dissertation award for spring 2017. She received her B.S. in Psychology cum laude from the University of Mary Washington in 2010 and then studied Applied Developmental Psychology at George Mason University, where she received her Master of Arts in Psychology in 2012.

Liz believes the Strumpf Scholar Award helped provide her with the time needed to publish, develop, and receive a NRSA grant. The award also helped her receive additional methodological and statistical training, as well as training in a new substantive area of behavioral genetics. These opportunities, in turn, will allow her to become more competitive for pursuing an academic position at a major research university.