Child covers eyes with adults arguing in the background

Mandel School’s Kristen Berg wins award from National Institute of Health for childhood research

Kristen Berg, a doctoral candidate at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, was awarded the Ruth L. Kirschstein Predoctoral Individual National Research Service Award by the National Institute of Health’s Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development.

The $42,000 award includes a research stipend to offset costs associated with tuition, research or health insurance.

“I’m fascinated by how young people internalize parts of their neighborhood and family environments in ways that may ultimately affect their behavioral health,” Berg said. “I’m grateful for this grant to allow me to add to the knowledge base in the field.”

Berg’s dissertation examines a group of socioeconomically and ethnically diverse adolescents and explores the relationship between social characteristics of the neighborhoods they live in and participants’ depressive symptoms as well as their feelings of their capacity to safely they navigate through their neighborhoods, a phenomenon she describes as “neighborhood self-efficacy.”

Additionally, she will seek to better understand those same individuals’ filial self-efficacy, or how capable they believe they are in their ability to build and maintain a positive relationship with their parents. Ultimately, this work will provide new insights into how self-efficacy may act as a psychological mechanism that promotes resilience among children in the context of their neighborhood and family environments.

“We’re incredibly proud of Kristen and know her work is going to contribute to understanding how neighborhoods and families ultimately affect behavioral health in youth,” said Megan Holmes, Berg’s dissertation adviser and founding director of the Mandel School’s Center on Trauma and Adversity. “Her work well lends itself directly to the Trauma Center’s mission of building empirical evidence to promote resilience, and I’m glad to see the NIH support this important initiative.”

Berg’s grant is sponsored by Holmes and co-sponsored by Claudia Coulton, the Lillian F. Harris Professor of Urban Research & Social Change and co-director of the Mandel School’s Center on Urban Poverty; and Adam Perzynski, associate professor of medicine and sociology.

For more information, visit the Mandel School website.