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Southern Miss Doctoral Student, Professor Secure Federal Grant for Research

Wed, 07/14/2010 - 12:00am | By: David Tisdale

A University of Southern Mississippi graduate student and her faculty mentor are receiving support through a federal grant for their research on the impact of positive parental engagement on children coping with attention and aggression issues.

Ferne Pinard, a doctoral student in clinical psychology from Dominica, and associate psychology professor Dr. Tammy Barry will benefit from $50,000 in funding from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Administration for Children and Families for Pinard's dissertation project, “Parental Involvement and Consistent Parenting Practices as Protective Factors for Preschoolers at Risk for Externalizing Behaviors.”

“We're looking at risk and resiliency factors for outcomes like behavior and attention problems and aggression, and also why some children still thrive academically and socially despite the presence of these issues,” Pinard said.

Working with children, parents and teachers from local preschools and PACE Head Start, Pinard's study focuses on identifying levels of executive functioning among children at risk for challenges with attention problems and aggression, including how they understand, organize and act on information. The grant covers the costs of cognitive and neuropsychological testing and data collection from parents, teachers and children, and pays for Pinard's graduate stipend.

“We're very proud of Ferne,” Barry said. “This is a nationally competitive grant, and we believe the research she's conducting will prove beneficial to children and their parents and teachers as they strive to help these students succeed, as well as enhance existing literature on findings in this area.”

As part of the award, Pinard will attend four national conferences, including in Washington, D.C., where she will have the opportunity to interact with other top researchers in the country and potentially form relationships leading to research collaboration. She has accepted a pre-doctoral clinical internship in psychiatry and neuropsychology at The University of Minnesota Medical School.

For more information about the Southern Miss Department of Psychology and its programs, including its three American Psychological Association (APA) accredited Ph.D. programs in applied psychology, online visit