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Nurturing families

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Doctoral student analyzes data for ways to help vulnerable children

Graduate student in lab

​Doctoral student Alexandra Tabachnick takes a clinical science approach in her research on families and children.

Alexandra “Lexie” Tabachnick wasn’t looking for a path to research when she was scouting around for a doctoral program in psychology. She wanted to be a clinician doing practical, hands-on stuff.

But friends suggested she check out the work underway at the University of Delaware — especially that of Mary Dozier, Amy Elizabeth du Pont Chair of Developmental Psychology. She took their advice.

“It wasn’t until I was interviewing with Mary that I saw the value of the clinical science approach,” she said. “It was eye-opening.”

That approach applies the power of data and scientific research to the intractable problems people face, problems that can consume lives and futures.

Now she collects and analyzes psychophysiological data to study the impact Dozier’s Attachment and Biobehavioral Catch-Up (ABC) program is having on vulnerable children.

Tabachnick, in her fifth year of doctoral studies, is also helping to mentor other grad students and some of the more than 40 undergraduates who are part of Dozier’s lab.

The ABC intervention aims to strengthen bonds between parents and vulnerable children, some of whom have been adopted internationally, born to mothers dependent on substances like opioids, mistreated and/or neglected.

Dozier’s research has drawn expansive support and recognition, including a lifetime achievement award in 2019 from the American Psychological Association, and now includes adolescent children who started the program as infants. Tabachnick and others are analyzing biomarkers in these children, seeing if and how the program’s effects continue as the children grow older.

Read more about Tabachnick's work, and that of other graduate students, in the Front Edge of Discovery section in the new issue of the online "UD Research" magazine.

Article by Beth Miller; photo by Evan Krape

Published Dec. 1, 2020

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Doctoral student Alexandra Tabachnick works with  psychologist Mary Dozier to study the impact of an intervention to help families strengthen their bonds.
12/11/2020
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