We are increasingly aware that conditions in the first few years of a child’s life can influence their physical, emotional and mental health throughout their lifespans. This forum explores what is known about the life-long effects of growing up in poverty from two of the leading researchers in the field.
Seth D. Pollak is the Letters and Science Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Professor of Psychiatry, Pediatrics, Anthropology, Neuroscience, and Public Affairs at the University of Wisconsin – Madison. He earned dual Ph.D.s from the University of Rochester in brain & cognitive sciences and in child clinical psychology before completing an internship in pediatric neuropsychology at the University of Toronto. Dr. Pollak has been a Visiting Professor of Neurology and Neurosurgery at the Montreal Neurological Institute, a visiting fellow at the American Academy in Rome, and a Visiting Scientist in pediatric neuroscience at the Bambino Gesu Pediatric Hospital in Rome. Dr. Pollak’s research focuses on the influences of social risk factors on children’s brain and behavioral development, with particular focus on emotions, learning, and children’s health. Dr. Pollak has been the recipient of a National Institute of Mental Health fellowship in developmental psychopathology. He is a recipient of the Boyd-McCandless Award for Distinguished Contributions to Child Development, the American Psychological Association’s Distinguished Early Career Award, as well as the Chancellor’s Distinguished Teaching Award from the University of Wisconsin. Dr. Pollak is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the Association for Psychological Science. He currently serves on the Governing Council of the Society for Research in Child Development. Dr. Pollak’s research is supported by both the US National Institute of Mental Health and the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.
Megan R. Gunnar is a Regents Professor and Distinguished McKnight University Professor at the University of Minnesota. She received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at Stanford University in 1978 and then completed a post-doctoral fellowship in stress neurobiology at Stanford Medical School. In 1979 she came to the University of Minnesota as an Assistant Professor. Professor Gunnar has spent her career studying how stress affects human development and the processes that help children regulate stress. She is the Associate Director of Center for Neurobehavioral Development, the Director of the Institute of Child Development, and the interim Director of CEED. She is the recipient of lifetime achievement awards from the American Psychological Association, Division 7 Developmental Psychology, the Society for Research in Child Development and the Association for Psychological Science. In addition, Professor Gunnar is involved in many activities to translate research on early development for use by policy makers, practitioners and families. She was a member of the Institute of Medicine study on early childhood development that produced Neurons to Neighborhoods and is a founding member of the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child that is part of the Harvard University Center on the Developing Child. She chairs the Research Advisory Council for the Minnesota Children’s Museum fostering the science of playful learning as a tool for early intervention and healthy human development, and she is a consultant on stress and development for the Greater Minneapolis Crisis Nursery.