Youth-Nex Works In Progress Resources 2016 2017


Remember the Paradox: Focusing on Youth in Global Mental Health Research

Initiatives aimed at promoting psychosocial wellbeing and preventing mental disorders among young people in low- and middle-income countries remain fragmented and inadequate. Key barriers include low awareness and political will, limited human resources, a lack of evidence-based intervention strategies and training materials, and poor coordination among actors.  In this talk, Nguyen will overview her involvement in efforts to address these barriers through clinical research, secondary data analysis, and systematic reviews. Two ongoing studies she will discuss include development and testing of a counseling intervention for conflict-affected adolescents in Northern Myanmar, and expansion of her dissertation research examining patterns of peer victimization in a multi-country cohort study.  Current findings as well as challenges in research design, measurement, and implementation will be discussed.

Amanda Nguyen, Ph.D., is a post-doctoral research fellow in the Department of Human Services.  Her research focuses on design, implementation, monitoring, and evaluation of culturally appropriate mental and behavioral health interventions for children and adolescents in low-resource settings in the U.S. and internationally. Amanda earned her Ph.D. in public mental health from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health in 2016.  Her dissertation research examined patterns of peer victimization and psychosocial outcomes in Ethiopia, India, Peru, and Vietnam. Other previous work has included evaluation of a health promotion program for Latino children in southwest Chicago, implementation and scale-up of a mental health counseling program in Iraq, and a qualitative study of mental health and psychosocial problems in Chechnya.  At UVA, Amanda is working on RCTs to reduce aggression among U.S. middle school students and treat child mental health problems in northern Myanmar, and is collaborating on the development of a research strategy to improve scientific evaluation of psychosocial support programs in humanitarian settings.
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Aggressive and Prosocial Behavior in Early Adolescence

Tabitha Wurster – Youth-Nex postdoctoral student

Aggressive and prosocial behavior both have unique associations with different social status dimensions, such as popularity and peer acceptance. The relation of these behaviors to social status factors is especially valuable to examine in early adolescence, as peer relations become more complex, salient, and impactful on overall well-being. Moreover, while aggression and prosocial behavior are typically considered as being oppositional to each other, evidence suggests that some youths exhibit both of these behaviors to their social advantage. Wurster will present several of her studies that examine the intersection of aggressive and prosocial behaviors, as well as important relations between these behaviors and different social and cognitive factors.

Tabitha Wurster, Ph.D., is a postdoctoral fellow at Youth-Nex working with Patrick Tolan, Ph.D. She completed her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at Temple University in 2014. Her research focuses on peer relations in preadolescence and adolescence. Specifically, she examines peer groups and social status, the relationship between affiliative and aggressive behaviors and social status, and social cognitive factors associated with aggressive and prosocial behaviors in preadolescence and adolescence.

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The Impact of Teaching Yoga on Student Behavior

Julia V. Taylor, Ph.D.

Over the past decade, yoga has gained popularity as a prevention and intervention tool in public school settings. Research suggests yoga in schools and classrooms can improve mental health functioning, mitigate the impact of violence and poverty, promote prosocial behavior, and reduce emotional distress. Despite empirical and anecdotal evidence regarding the benefits of yoga integration in schools, methodological concerns significantly limit transferability. In this talk, Taylor will provide an overview of her previous research, along with goals for piloting a study that includes the development of a yoga curriculum to examine the impact of teaching the ethical principles of yoga on student behavior. 

Taylor was a school counselor for eight years and the dean of a public girls’ school for two years before she returned to school to earn a Ph.D. in Counselor Education and Supervision.
She has authored six books and curricula targeting relational aggression, body image, and girls’ leadership development. Taylor often gives presentations, assemblies, and keynote talks to parents and educators.

She became interested in the ‘yoga in schools movement’ after casually observing the impact the practice had on her students while working at the girls school.  She focused her doctoral research on how school counselors integrate yoga into a comprehensive school counseling program, and she hopes to continue to this line of research in the realm of how school counselors can continue to help students achieve academic success.
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Youth-Adult Relationships as Ecological Assets

Nancy Deutsch
Nancy is an associate professor of Research, Statistics & Evaluation and Applied Developmental Science at the University of Virginia’s Curry School of Education. Her research examines the socio-ecological contexts of adolescent development, particularly issues related to identity. She has focused on the role of after-school programs and relationships with important adults.

Mimi Arbeit
Mimi is a Postdoctoral Fellow with Youth-Nex. She earned her doctorate in child study and human development from Tufts University. She studies the process of individual skill development within interpersonal and institutional contexts in order to inform school and community-based programs and policies that facilitate safe, supportive, and fulfilling relationships for young people.

Mark Yu

Teachers, coaches, extended kin, after-school program staff, clergy, youth group leaders, mentors —
these are just some of the various non-parental adults who youth might interact with across the different
settings of their lives. Deutsch and Arbeit followed 40 youth (ages 12-18 at the start of the study) and their
relationships with important adults over the course of three years. They will present an overview of the data they have the current analysis completed and underway, and will discuss planned, analyses and ideas for new questions we could ask of the data

Peer and Teacher Interactions as Developmental Opportunities in Linguistically Diverse Middle School Classrooms
The team will discuss new findings in their study of the affordances for second language development and academic learning available in linguistically heterogeneous middle school classroom settings (including English learners, alongside non-English learners).
Amanda Kibler is an Associate Professor of English Education at the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. Her scholarship focuses on the language and literacy development of multilingual children and adolescents from immigrant backgrounds, particularly in relation to classroom interaction and writing. Current research explores both the longitudinal development of adolescent multilingual students’ language and literacy repertoires and the relationships among teacher practices, peer networks, and academic outcomes in linguistically diverse middle school classrooms.
Lauren Molloy Elreda, is a Research Assistant Professor in Youth-Nex. She studies peer networks within classroom, school, and intervention settings, as well as setting-level characteristics and practices that contribute to the development of students’ peer networks and academic functioning.

Mimi Arbeit is a Postdoctoral Fellow with Youth-Nex. She earned her doctorate in child study and human development from Tufts University. She studies the process of individual skill development within interpersonal and institutional contexts in order to inform school and community-based programs and policies that facilitate safe, supportive, and fulfilling relationships for young people.

Katrina Debnam, Ph.D., MPH is Assistant Professor of Nursing and Education at UVA and
a Roberts Scholar.

As a researcher and scientist at Johns Hopkins University’s Bloomberg School of Public Health, she honed an interest in both a qualitative and quantitative approach to programs combating adolescent dating abuse, adolescent violence prevention, school climate initiatives, health disparities, and faith-based programs that aim to improve young people’s lives.
Debnam, earned a psychology degree from Morgan State, an MPH from UNC Chapel Hill, and a PhD from the University of Maryland.
She is on the editorial board of the Journal of Youth and Adolescence, a member of the Society for Prevention Research, and reviews manuscripts for a host of journals, including Prevention Science, Youth & Society, and the Journal of Research on Adolescence.
She’s also a member of the Maryland team that led the training and evaluation of Positive Behavioral Interventions and Supports (PBIS) in more than 800 public schools, she teaches a new course on mixed methods research to both nursing and education students.