Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Anna Zhou

Anna Zhou is the 2021 Irene E. Harms Graduate Scholarship Award recipient. Anna, a fourth-year student in Penn State’s Developmental Psychology doctoral program, is primarily interested in how the interplay between biological and environmental factors are associated with trajectories of children’s socioemotional development. Anna has devoted an impressive amount of time on educational outreach to members of the Penn State community regarding Diversity, Equity & Inclusion. Her primary mentors are Drs. Kristin Buss and Jenae Neiderhiser.

Anna received her Bachelor of Science degree in Cognitive and Brain Science, Child Studies and Human Development magna cum laude from Tufts University in Medford, Massachusetts. Her interest in working with more diverse populations and community-engaged research originated while working as an undergrad on a project aimed at improving school readiness for dual language learners. She continued to gain extensive research experience working at the Boston Children’s Hospital, Harvard University, and Tufts University both during her undergrad and post-baccalaureate years. Anna was drawn to Penn State and the opportunity to work with more diverse samples, as well as to learn more about community-engaged research through initiatives such as Parents And Children Together (PACT). As a graduate student, Anna’s research has mainly focused on deepening her understanding of the role of individual differences in temperament and the stress-response system on children’s socioemotional development from both a biopsychosocial framework as well as biological sensitivity to context framework. Anna received the Penn State Graduate Student Service Award in 2021 for her work with the BRIDGE Diversity Alliance, the Graduate Alliance for Diversity and Inclusion in the College of the Liberal Arts, and PACT. A large part of her service and outreach work has involved advocacy, organizing training opportunities for the community, and improving recruitment and retention for students of marginalized groups.

The Irene E. Harms Award will allow Anna devoted time during the summer to work on her dissertation proposal, as well as time to work on projects related to neighborhood processes, such as examining how structural neighborhood characteristics may interact with genetic influences on internalizing symptom development. Additionally, the funds will cover the costs for attending the International Statistical Genetics Workshop in June 2021. In the future, Anna hopes to expand her current program of research to include broader contextual factors and examine if developmental processes that have often been examined in white, educated, industrialized, rich and democratic populations are generalizable to more diverse populations to help inform prevention and intervention.