Fanwen Zhang, HDFS Grad Student Spotlight, December 2022

Fanwen ZhangFanwen Zhang is a first-year Ph.D. student who joined HDFS in 2022 to work with Dr. Sara Harkness, with broad interests in culture, parenting, and social-emotional development. Specifically, she is interested in how culture influences parents’ beliefs and practices in social-emotional development, especially in Asian culture. In addition, Fanwen is interested in the current development and evaluation of social and emotional learning programs in cross-cultural settings.

Fanwen earned her B.S. in Psychology and Rehabilitation and Human Services (RHS) from Penn State University in 2020. In 2021, she received her M.Ed. degree in Prevention Science and Practice from Harvard Graduate School of Education. After graduation, she worked as a research assistant at Parent-Child Dynamics Lab at Penn State, where she helped conduct a research project, Parent Regulation, Engagement, Stress, and Health (PRESH). She conducted study sessions with families and was trained in Mindware data collection, hair/saliva cortisol collection, and the Trier Social Stress Test. Also, she collaborated with colleagues to analyze how the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted parental stress, which can, in turn, affect children’s internalizing and externalizing behaviors. In addition to working at Penn State, Fanwen also worked on developing literacy-related curriculum materials for elementary-aged students and teachers at READS Lab at Harvard. Although Fanwen has been involved in research across multiple disciplines, an enduring theme is her interest in parenting and cross-cultural research. She hopes to start her research, expand her knowledge, and strengthen her research skills in her future years at UConn.

In her free time, Fanwen enjoys DIY, cooking, and exploring nature. Her current projects include a 1000-piece puzzle, bead bracelets, and a LEGO castle. She is a cat lover and loves cuddling with her cats, Grigio and Nera.