Our inaugural class of scholars.

In 2021, the Life Course Intervention Research Network (now the Life Course Translational Research Network) welcomed its inaugural class of Life Course Intervention Research Network Scholars! These eight scholars came from disciplines including public health, social work, psychology, education, and medicine, and they bring diverse research and practice experience to their study of life course health development and its application to interventions. With interests ranging the spectrum from primary care to social emotional well-being, mother-infant relationships to civic engagement, these scholars are already making big impacts. 

Photograph of LCIRN/LCT-RN Scholars at the 2023 LCIRN Annual Meeting.

​​​​​2021-23 Scholars

Saltanat Childress

Saltanat ChildressMSW, PhD is an Assistant Professor at the University of Texas-Arlington School of Social Work. Her research is focused on family and child well-being, economic empowerment, and improving long-term health and social outcomes of families and children. She is dedicated to improving the capacities of public health and social service systems to prevent adverse childhood experiences and family violence through developing and evaluating integrated evidence-based interventions.

Pilot Project: Family Wellbeing in Global Cultures: Establishing Foundations for Adaptive Interventions Across the Lifespan: This project aims to support further research to prevent ACEs and promote family well-being among at-risk populations among immigrants from Central Asia and the former Soviet Union residing in the US. The study has three aims: 1) to identify sociocultural/psychosocial risk and protective factors for immigrant and refugee families from Central Asia and how these factors impact child outcomes; 2) to understand the role of fathers in family health using an LCHD perspective; 3) to improve understanding of mental health and well-being among adolescent immigrants from Central Asia and identify potential strategies for psychosocial support.


Carol Duh-Leong

Carol Duh-Leong is an academic general pediatrician who studies how social connectedness and neighborhoods shape early childhood health outcomes, particularly in immigrant families exposed to experiences of material hardship. She takes care of pediatric patients at Bellevue Hospital Center and was selected to be a KL2 CTSA Scholar in 2021. She completed her Academic General Pediatrics/Population Health Scholars Fellowship at NYU and her residency and chief residency in Social Pediatrics at the Children’s Hospital at Montefiore. She has a MD from Vanderbilt University, a Master in Public Policy from Princeton, and completed her undergraduate studies at Yale.

Pilot Project: A geo-spatial approach to neighborhood social capital and parenting self-efficacy: Using caregiver data from the “Greenlight Plus” study (a 6-city RCT), the project aims to characterize the neighborhood community spaces of caregivers with newborns; examine relationships between residential proximity to community spaces and perceived neighborhood social capital and parenting self efficacy; and explore whether neighborhood social capital mediates the relationship between the two. 

Elena Maker Castro

Elena Maker Castro is an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Bates College. A former high school social studies teacher, Elena studies youth’s civic engagement using a critical lens that centers the ways in which youth resist marginalizing forces. She is currently focusing her work on the relationship between youth’s critical civic engagement and their wellbeing. 

Pilot Project: A qualitative examination of critical consciousness and wellbeing among minoritized emerging adults: Emerging adults experiencing systemic oppression(s) face heightened challenges to wellbeing. Critical consciousness (CC), or analysis and action against oppression, may protect wellbeing. This study examines the relationship between CC and wellbeing for minoritized emerging adults, sensitive to developmental trajectories and ecological contexts. In Aim 1, methodological tools will be piloted to advance the study of CC and wellbeing within a life course framework. In Aim 2, interviews will explore the role of community-based organizations in fostering CC and wellbeing. This study will identify mechanisms to support minoritized emerging adults as they develop CC and prepare subsequent investigations.

Benjamin Meza

Benjamin Meza is a pediatrician and internist in the Division of General Internal Medicine at UCLA.  As a clinician investigator, he is particularly interested in understanding how our social ecology influences our health and exploring ways to leverage social networks to improve the health of marginalized communities.  He is currently working with Mitchell Wong and Rebecca Dudovitz on a K application understanding how school programming impacts the formation of youth social networks and substance use. 

Pilot Project: Student perceptions of the effects of collaborative learning on social networks and health: Most adults who develop a substance use disorder begin use in adolescence and nearly half of adolescent use is associated with peer influence – with cascading effects on education and health throughout the life span. Collaborative learning, a pedagogical intervention associated with improved educational outcomes and greater equity, may promote healthier peer social networks and prevent substance use through positive peer influence. High school students are grouped together intentionally to complete projects in a process contingent on their forming mutually interdependent social relationships. This study examines the student experience of linked learning in relation to the formation of healthier social networks, potentially disrupting clustering associated with shared high-risk behaviors. This pilot qualitative study uses semi-structured interviews to better understand student perspectives on collaborative learning, social network dynamics, mental health and health behaviors. The results will directly inform a future examination of collaborative learning and health.

Vivian L. Tamkin

Vivian L. Tamkin, PhD, is a dual state licensed, community-oriented psychologist (CA and WI) and a second-year postdoctoral research fellow in the Health Disparities Research Scholars T-32 Training Program at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, School of Medicine and Public Health. She is a qualitative researcher, and she utilizes a multi-method qualitative approach (e.g., in-depth, semi-structured interviews, focus groups, video data) to examine the process of racial socialization in Black/African Americans across the life span. Dr. Tamkin’s current research aims to identify ways in which Black/African American mothers of toddlers with depression living in poverty demonstrate the capacity to recognize their child’s emotional states that shape their child’s interaction behavior (Luyten, et al., 2017). Specifically, her target outcome is to operationalize reflective functioning to better inform the development and implementation of culturally centered maternal-child interventions.

Pilot Study: “Here is How I ‘Show Up’ for you Baby”: A Community-Engaged Exploration of Reflective Functioning in African American/Black Mothers: The goal of this proposed project is to explore the research question: How do African American/Black mothers demonstrate reflective functioning? The long-term objective of this proposed project is to examine reflective functioning, with an expressed intent to develop a culturally frame conceptualization of reflective functioning that leads to a 10-week intervention group for African American/Black mothers.

Allysa Ware

Allysa Ware, MSW is the Executive Director at Family Voices and has spent the last decade working to improve access to education, medical services, and community supports for children with special health care needs and their families. Allysa received her master’s degree in social work from The Catholic University of America (CUA) and is currently pursuing her Ph.D. in social work at CUA with a research focus of autism diagnosis and treatment in the African-American community. Allysa has also engaged in research focused on the lived experiences of kinship caregivers. She is licensed by the Association of Social Work Boards as a Licensed Master Social Worker (LMSW) in Washington, DC, and Maryland. Allysa is also the proud parent of a 18-year-old daughter with an autism spectrum disorder.

Pilot Study: Examining the process and impact of parent affiliate stigma on raising a child with ASD in African-American Families: There is a marked gap in research for understanding the association between child ASD stigma and parental affiliate stigma in relation to child rearing in African American families. This study aims to close this gap by determining whether there is a significant relationship between African American parents’ affiliate stigma and their difficulties in raising a child with ASD. Substantiating this effect could lead to further development and testing of interventions to reduce the negative effects of stigmatization in parents’ and children’s health outcomes and for reducing racial health disparities. 

Nomi Weiss-Laxer

Nomi Weiss-Laxer, PhD, MPH, MA is a NRSA postdoctoral fellow in the Primary Care Research Institute in the Department of Family Medicine at the University at Buffalo (UB). She received her PhD from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and her MPH from Brown University. She served as research coordinator for the Family Health Technical Working group, supported by the Maternal and Child Health Bureau. In addition to her family health measurement research, Dr. Weiss-Laxer conducts mixed methods studies on perinatal mental health in obstetrics and pediatrics settings among underserved populations.

Pilot Study: Assessing the feasibility, acceptability, and utility of the Family Health Scale-Short Form among English- and Spanish-speaking caregivers of young children in primary care pediatrics: Families provide a critical environment for child development. Primary care is a trusted resource for families of young children, but lacks tools to screen for family health. The Family Health Scale-Short Form (FHS-SF) is a holistic family health measure with preliminary screening cut-offs for low, moderate, and excellent family health. The tool has not been validated in clinical settings. This mixed-methods study examines the feasibility, acceptability, and utility of the FHS-SF for families with children ages 0-3. Methods include caregiver and pediatric staff focus groups and analyzing health records. Outcomes include caregiver and child health and prevention services engagement. 

Keisha M. Wint

Keisha M. Wint is a licensed clinical social worker who recently earned a PhD in Family Science and Human Development to support her passion of working with and for children across schools and communities. As a coach, she collaborates with preschool teachers in a large urban New Jersey school district and is particularly interested in facilitating practices that support social emotional well-being for all children. As a private practitioner, Dr. Wint incorporates her training as an Advanced Certified Grief Recovery Method Specialist® to support children and families recovering from various grief and loss experiences.

Pilot Study: Teacher support of preschool children when they grieve: Pre-K teachers lack resources to help them support grieving children. This intervention aims to increase teacher’s knowledge of grief and of age-appropriate communication improving their responsiveness to children’s social-emotional needs and the quality of their relationships with students. The pilot study will test the efficacy of the Helping Children with Loss intervention with 30 preschool teachers to change their knowledge and beliefs around grief.