Caitlin Lombardi, HDFS Faculty Spotlight, September 2023

Caitlin was tenured and promoted to Associate Professor effective August, 2023!

Caitlin Lombardi

Caitlin Lombardi is an applied developmental psychologist. Her program of research falls at the convergence of social policy and child development with an overarching goal of understanding how social policy can best promote children’s healthy development and family well-being. She employs quantitative techniques using large nationally representative surveys of children and families to investigate central contributors to individual differences in children’s development and mechanisms within communities, schools, and families that explain differences in children’s cognitive, language, socioemotional, and health outcomes. In her recent work, she also utilizes mixed methods approaches to integrate quantitative and qualitative data. All of Caitlin’s work is informed by social science theories, which recognize strengths within individuals and families and the influences of social stratification and proximal and distal environmental characteristics on developmental processes. Taken together, her research seeks to document the processes through which socioeconomic and sociocultural experiences influence children’s development to inform social policies and programs that seek to support children and families.

Caitlin grew up in Maine and attended the University of Vermont (UVM) where she received a B.A. in English and Psychology. While at UVM, she was a rower on the crew team, tutor in the writing center, tour guide for the admissions office, and intern at the Vermont Commission on Women. Her interest in research and the role of policy in child development was sparked through the undergraduate honors program, where she wrote her senior honors thesis on educational inequalities in the K-12 schooling system. Following her undergraduate degree, she was a staff assistant and then a legislative staffer for U.S. Senator Patrick Leahy in his Washington D.C. office. In this position, she met with constituents, wrote correspondence, and drafted statements on health and social policy issues. Her interest in conducting research to inform these policies drew her to graduate school. She subsequently completed a Ph.D. in Applied Developmental and Educational Psychology at Boston College (BC), and then remained at BC for an additional two years as a Postdoctoral Fellow.

In 2016, Caitlin joined the UConn HDFS department as an Assistant Professor. At UConn, Caitlin teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on child development, policy, and research methods. She serves as a faculty member of the Early Childhood Program committee, which runs the Early Childhood Specializations (ECS) program. Caitlin is the Co-Chair of the Science and Social Policy Committee of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) and is an Associate Editor for Applied Developmental Science. Funded by the federal government, the state of Connecticut, and private foundations, her research focuses on early care and education and children’s school readiness, the contributions of home environments to income-based achievement gaps, and the role of social policies in the health and development of children and families.

Outside of work, Caitlin enjoys spending time with her husband, Scott, and their three energetic children, ages 10, 8, and 5. She loves outdoor activities, especially time at the beach.

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