Eleanor Fisk, HDFS Grad Student Spotlight, June 2023

Eleanor FiskEleanor Fisk completed her Ph.D. in HDFS in Spring 2023. She enrolled in the HDFS program in 2018 to work with Dr. Caitlin Lombardi on research about young children’s cognitive and social emotional development, family resources, and early care and education. During graduate school, Eleanor worked on numerous research projects, including longitudinal studies utilizing secondary data with Dr. Lombardi, a qualitative study on families’ and home visitors’ experiences with virtual home visiting supervised by Dr. Rachel Chazan Cohen, and an evaluation of family engagement and outcomes for a local Head Start agency led by Dr. Beth Russell. These experiences and mentorship helped Eleanor to shape her research interests around understanding the role of contexts in which early childhood development occurs and how programs and policies can support children and families experiencing socioeconomic disadvantage.

Eleanor successfully defended her dissertation in March. In her dissertation, she used multiple methods to understand Early Head Start programs’ service provision to families who enroll prenatally. Findings included a description of the types of services Early Head Start programs typically provide to prenatal families and showed how the availability of those services may be linked with later maternal well-being and child social emotional development. This project allowed Eleanor to expand her methodological experiences to include qualitative data collection from interviews with Early Head Start staff, which provided additional perspective on successes and challenges around providing services prenatally.

In addition to research at UConn, Eleanor completed a Society for Research in Child Development State Policy Pre-Doctoral Fellowship with the Connecticut Office of Early Childhood in 2021-2022. This fellowship gave Eleanor firsthand experience with data-driven policymaking and the role that researchers can play in policymaking, and helped to shape many of her goals around communicating and disseminating research in a way that is accessible and understandable to practitioners and policymakers.

Eleanor recently started a position as a Research Associate at James Bell Associates within their Child and Family Development practice area. She is looking forward to continuing working on applied research and evaluations of programs that support children and families. Outside of work, Eleanor can be found hiking (preferably with a view of the ocean), tending to her ever-growing collection of houseplants, and cooking with local ingredients or trying new restaurants!