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.

Hilal Kuscul and Kari Adamsons awarded for published research paper

Hilal Kuscul
Kari Adamsons

Visiting Assistant Professor Hilal Kuscul and Associate Professor Kari Adamsons received the 2023 Best New Professional Research Article Award from the National Council on Family Relations and the Men in Families Focus Group Award Review Committee for their paper, A Personal and Relational Model of Father Identity Construction, published in the Journal of Family Theory & Review.

Marketa Burnett, HDFS Faculty Spotlight, August 2023

Marketa BurnettDr. Marketa Burnett is a developmental psychologist who joined UConn as an assistant professor of HDFS and Africana Studies in August 2023. Through her work she strives to disrupt deficit-based narratives of Black girls and Black families and instead center their strengths, resilience, and resistance. Marketa is a proud native of Greensboro, North Carolina– a city rich in Black history and tradition. On February 1, 1960, the Greensboro Four sparked a nationwide sit-in movement at Woolworth’s lunch counter. Today, it is home to the International Civil Rights Center and Museum.

In 2017, she graduated with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology & African, African American, and Diaspora Studies from UNC Chapel Hill. She credits her time as a Ronald E. McNair scholar for introducing her to the many opportunities available to make meaningful social change through research. She would go on to complete her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at UNC Chapel Hill. With support from the Ford Foundation, she launched the I PERSIST Project (Identifying Predictors of Engagement, Resilience, Socialization, and Identity in STem). In this project, she interviewed both caregivers and adolescent Black girls to examine the developmental mechanisms that influence Black girls’ STEM identity and persistence over time. Marketa continued her training at the University of South Carolina as a Postdoctoral Research Fellow where she investigated how religious coping factors might shape identity development and well-being among Black families.

Currently, Marketa investigates the psychological and contextual factors that shape Black girls’ identity development and their educational trajectories. In addition, she explores the ways Black family processes (e.g., socialization) mitigate the effects of educational inequality and promote resilience and resistance among Black youth. Marketa sees her research as storytelling. She intentionally partners with Black youth and families in the co-construction of knowledge to accurately represent their stories and center their ideas and solutions.

Outside of work, Marketa enjoys watching game shows (especially Jeopardy!), buying more books than she has time to read, visiting local wineries, and trying out new recipes in the kitchen.