In 30 years of distinguished service at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Victoria S. Levin's career centered on fostering scientific research that addressed children's mental health. Upon her retirement there was an exceptional outpouring of tributes from the many distinguished scientists with whom Vicki worked over these years. The tributes vividly highlighted two hallmarks of Vicki's life work. First, they acknowledged Vicki's passion for scientific research examining development in the very first years of life, years that form a critical foundation for the development of lifelong mental health and well-being, and which play an important role in the prevention of mental disorders. Second, they praised her unique capability for encouraging new scientists, instilling them with confidence that they could achieve the high standards required to secure their first major funding from the NIH. The Victoria S. Levin Grant for Early Career Success in Young Children's Mental Health Research is established to continue Vicki's legacy in these two areas. Its aim is to foster early success in achieving federal funding for research that is informed by developmental science to address concerns affecting the early foundations of children's mental health and well-being. Broadly defined, this area of research addresses all aspects of the development of competence and risk for children from all types of backgrounds.
The grant serves the promising junior investigator by:
- Supporting release time from duties during which time the grantee writes and submits an application in the area of early childhood mental health to the NIH. This support compensates the grantee's unit/department for the work from which the grantee is released. Having adequate time to develop and submit a grant application is essential for early career success.
- Providing travel funds for a trip to NIH to meet program staff. This support helps the grantee develop meaningful contacts with NIH program staff who can guide the application preparation and revision (funding usually requires two application submissions).
- Providing a pre-review of the candidate's NIH application. This support allows the mentor and grantee to benefit from an external critique of the NIH application prior to its submission. In our experience, this pre-review heightens the chances of early success in the first round of review and the mentor is able to guide the grantee in responding to reviews.
Aiming to heighten the chances of early success in achieving federal funding for developmentally-informed research that addresses the early foundations of children’s mental health and well-being, the Victoria S. Levin Grant for Early Career Success in Young Children’s Mental Health Research was created to honor and carry forward this focus of Victoria S. Levin’s life work.
We are very pleased to announce that is the recipient of the 2016 Victoria S. Levin Award. Dr. Johnson is Assistant Professor of Psychology at Georgetown University. Her selected mentor is Dr. Stephanie Jones at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Dr. Johnson received her BA in Psychology and Government from Wesleyan University and her PhD (in Developmental Psychology) and Master of Public Administration (concentration in Social Policy) degrees from Columbia University. She received an individual National Research Service Award (NRSA) from the NICHD, which funded her post-doctoral fellowship under the mentorship of Drs. Deborah Phillips and Rebecca Ryan at Georgetown University. The overarching goal of Dr. Johnson’s research is to identify avenues for policy and developmental interventions that might close early socioeconomic gaps in child wellbeing and school preparedness. Dr. Johnson focuses in particular on public early education programs and their impacts on low-income and otherwise vulnerable children’s development. In her newest line of work, Dr. Johnson seeks to illuminate the most promising features of public preschool classrooms that best support low-income, dual-language learning, and special needs children’s developing self-regulatory skills, thereby enhancing the academic school readiness and subsequent school success of these vulnerable subgroups.
Applications for the 2017 grant will be available here on July 1, 2017. The deadline for applications is September 1, 2017; the grant will be announced in November 2017. For your reference, you may view the following documentation for the 2016 grant to get a general idea of the requirements and eligibility for next year’s grant: Levin Grant General Information, Applicant Eligibility, and Required Application Elements (files to be uploaded).