Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Yeunjoo (Vanessa) Kim

Headshot of Yeunjoo (Vanessa) Kim

Yeunjoo (Vanessa) Kim, a third-year graduate student in Penn State’s Child Clinical Psychology PhD program, centers her research around the development of emotion regulation in early childhood and the underlying mechanisms that promote it. Her primary mentor is Pamela Cole.

Vanessa earned her BA in Education with a minor in Psychology from Yonsei University in Seoul, South Korea. She then attended the University of California, Berkely and graduated with honors from a Psychology Post-Baccalaureate program with an emphasis in Clinical Science. Vanessa gained extensive lab experience by working in three labs at UC Berkeley prior to arriving at Penn State. As a graduate student, her research has focused on understanding age differences and developmental growth in how young children use various strategies during emotionally challenging situations. Her master’s thesis investigated children’s spontaneous speech use during a frustrating wait task and how this relates to anger expression from toddlerhood to prekindergarten. Findings revealed age-related changes in different types of speech contents accounted for a gradual decrease in anger expression. She presented these findings at the 2021 Society for Research in Child Development Biennial Meeting. For her dissertation, she will be working with Dr. Kristin Buss to critically examine fear regulation dynamics in young children and the roles parents play. Vanessa continues to collaborate with her prior mentors, Dr. Zhou at UC Berkely and Dr. Kyong-Mee Chung at Yonsei University, and this work resulted in a first-author publication in the journal Emotion and a second-author publication in the Journal of American College Health. Vanessa has presented at several national and international symposia and has received numerous awards, including the Welch Centennial Graduate Scholar Award and the Phillips Centennial Graduate Scholar Award. She also serves as a lead mentor in the Next-Gen Psych Scholars Program, mentoring underrepresented undergraduates and post-baccalaureates interested in applying to psychology PhD programs.

The Strumpf Scholar Award will help Vanessa achieve her goals within academia by allowing her to focus on research activities throughout the summer and to grow as a competitive scholar. The funds will support further training in advanced statistical modeling, allow her to increase her research productivity, and assist in overcoming the obstacles related to transcribing and coding children’s speech. The Strumpf Scholar Award will allow Vanessa to advance her preparation to become a research scientist with the goal of contributing to the knowledge of self-regulation development in early childhood and translating that knowledge into support for caregivers and teachers.