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Human Development alumni profiles

Nancy Miodrag, PhD '10

Nancy Miodrag, PhDAssistant Professor, Department of Child and Adolescent Development, College of Health and Human Development, California State University Northridge  

Nancy Miodrag’s research interests are in understanding the health disparities of parents and their children with Autism Spectrum Disorders and other intellectual disabilities. Specifically, she studies psychological stress, health, and mental health of parents as well as children’s behavioral phenotypes. She is equally interested in using psycho-educational techniques such as mindfulness-based interventions to reduce stressors and promote adaptive coping among these families.

The Human Development program provided me with a strong theoretical foundation in typical and atypical development through core courses such as Developmental Psychopathology and Cognitive and Social Development. The program equally prepared me for applied work with families and children with disabilities through an internship at the Montreal Children’s hospital (Autism Spectrum Disorders program) and through data collection under the National Early Intervention project directed by Dr. Ingrid Sladezcek. Most notably, I had exceptional opportunities to develop critical research skills that helped me to secure doctoral funding and a post-doctoral research fellowship upon graduation.

The Human Development program provided both breadth and depth in understanding the developmental trajectories of children and their families.

I am grateful to the department and committed faculty members for providing me with such an enriching experience.

Jessica R. Toste, PhD '11

Jessica R. Toste, PhD

Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Department of Special Education, Vanderbilt University

Jessica Toste is currently a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Special Education at Vanderbilt University, with two years of funding from the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council (SSHRC). Her research program is related resilience factors related to school success and psychosocial functioning of youth at-risk, with a particular interest in students with reading disabilities. In 2008, Dr. Toste held a Canada-U.S. Fulbright Fellowship, where she spent one year as a visiting scholar at the Florida Center for Reading Research, Florida State University. Most recently, Dr. Toste was the recipient of the 2012 Canadian Education Association’s Pat Clifford Award for Early Career Research in Education. Dr. Toste is also a licensed elementary school teacher and has extensive experience as a reading specialist, coordinating intensive summer remediation programs and ongoing intervention for elementary-aged students with learning disabilities.

The Human Development program provided me with essential training in development across typical and atypical trajectories. The focus on understanding diversity in development informed my own program of research and my interest in exploring variations in educational effectiveness for students with reading disabilities. Further, the program supported my own growth as a researcher who conducts both basic and applied research. The mentorship I received was essential to my training in theoretical foundations, research methodology, and advanced statistical analyses.


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