Amanda Ramos first became interested in child development as an undergraduate at Humboldt State University in California, where she majored in Psychology and minored in Criminal Justice. She was most inspired by her developmental psychology professor’s passion for children’s social-emotional development, which spurred a growing interest in Amanda. She sought out opportunities to further explore this interest, including pursuing an internship in a public defender’s office. Through this experience, Amanda became interested in understanding more about children’s pathways to delinquency, antisocial behavior, and maladjustment more generally.
To understand more about developmental psychopathology, Amanda began her master’s work in Psychological Research at California State University Long Beach, exploring impulsivity in college students. While there, she became more interested in early influences on development – prenatal influences. Amanda was involved in a study focused on reducing at-risk mothers’ stress levels during pregnancy in order to increase both mothers’ and babies’ health. As Amanda worked with the mothers in the study (who were involved starting in the first trimester), her interest in prenatal influences on child outcomes was propelled. At the same time, Amanda was taking a human genetics course, which made her question how genetics plays a role alongside prenatal influences on the subsequent development of psychopathology in children, which led Amanda to work with Dr. Jenae Neiderhiser in the Psychology Department at Penn State.
Amanda’s work with Dr. Neiderhiser broadly focuses on the interplay between genetic, prenatal, and environmental factors in the development of social competence and school readiness. Specifically, she focuses on how the prenatal and postnatal environments, including parenting, the parent-child relationship, and interparental relationships, influence children’s social competence and school readiness. Through this work, Amanda developed a growing curiosity about family processes and how different family subsystems inform family dynamics and development. To feed this curiosity, Amanda began working with Dr. Gregory Fosco, a faculty member of the Human Development and Family Studies Department. In this line of work Amanda is investigating how the interparental subsystem impacts the parent-child relationship while incorporating genetic influences. Her interests have honed in on the ways in which family members impact one another. Her goal is to continue to use multiple samples and methodologies to disentangle genetic, prenatal, and postnatal influences to get a better understanding on how these different influences interact to impact the development of social competence and school readiness.