Spotlight on the Interdisciplinary Committee: Encouraging a Multidisciplinary Perspective on Child Development


This article continues a series highlighting the initiatives of SRCD’s 14 active standing and operational committees, their dedicated members, and how each contributes to a more vibrant Society and to advancing child development research. Each committee has its own charge from SRCD’s Governing Council and generates its own activities.

Spotlights on the Teaching Committeethe Science and Social Policy Committee2019 Biennial Meeting Program Committeethe Student and Early Career Council (SECC)the Equity and Justice Committee, and the International Affairs Committee have been published. We continue with a closer look at the activities conducted by the Interdisciplinary Committee.

Marc H. Bornstein, President and Laura L. Namy, Executive Director


About the Committee

The Interdisciplinary Committee was formed in 2007 evolving from recommendations provided by SRCD’s Task Force on Interdisciplinary Issues to make SRCD more multidisciplinary. The committee takes its charge from the statement of the task force:

SRCD will reflect the fact that an understanding of development requires the perspectives and methods of multiple disciplines. SRCD encompasses psychology, human development, sociology, family studies, biology, education, pediatrics, psychiatry, social work, public health, economics, anthropology, and other disciplines that are relevant for an understanding of development. It embraces the rich diversity of quantitative and qualitative methods associated with these specializations. As the scientific world leans increasingly towards division and compartmentalization, SRCD’s role in encouraging a multidisciplinary perspective for understanding human development becomes increasingly important. SRCD will increase its efforts to provide a forum in which scientists of various disciplines can share research and interdisciplinary scientific methods and to promote a receptive climate for truly transdisciplinary research that will advance understanding of the complexities of child and adolescent development.

To this day, a main goal of the Interdisciplinary Committee is to expand outreach and collaborations with other professional organizations representing related disciplines.

Current Members

Katherine Magnuson, University of Wisconsin-Madison (Co-Chair) 2015-2019
Jennifer S. Silk, University of Pittsburgh (Co-Chair) 2015-2019
Lori A. Francis, Penn State College of Health and Human Development 2015-2019
Lee T. Gettler, University of Notre Dame 2017-2021
Lynn A. Karoly, RAND Corporation 2017-2021
Alan L. Mendelsohn, NYU Langone Health 2017-2021
Prachi Shah, Center for Human Growth & Development, University of Michigan 2017-2021
Andrew J. Fuligni, Adolescent Development Lab at UCLA (Governing Council Representative) 2015-2019
Emily A. Abel, UCLA Fielding School of Public Health (SECC Representative) 2017-2019
Gabby Galeano (SRCD Staff Liaison) 2018
Note: Committee members and terms change following SRCD's Biennial Meeting in March 2019

Recent Key Accomplishments

The committee has been hard at work organizing several programs for SRCD’s 2019 Biennial Meeting taking place in Baltimore next month:

  • The Early Career Interdisciplinary Scholars Fellowship Program, a new pilot program launching at the Biennial, selected five outstanding early career scholars who have trained in a discipline outside of psychology or human development but are conducting research that intersects with developmental psychology in important ways. The inaugural Early Career Interdisciplinary Scholars are:
    • Lauren Cycyk, Ph.D., Department of Special Education and Clinical Sciences, University of Oregon
    • Grace Wing Ka Ho, Ph.D., The Hong Kong Polytechnic University School of Nursing
    • Lindsey Bullinger, Ph.D., School of Public Policy, Georgia Institute of Technology
    • Julia Kobulsky, Ph.D., School of Social Work, Temple University
    • Carol Duh-Leong, M.D., M.P.P., Departments of Pediatrics and Population Health, NYU Langone Health
  • Interdisciplinary Developmental Science Data Blitz and Career Panel is an inaugural event open to all Biennial meeting participants. The panel, taking place on Friday, March 22 from 3:00 to 4:00pm at the Baltimore Convention Center, is sponsored by the SRCD Interdisciplinary Committee and the newly formed Early Career Interdisciplinary Scholars Program. It is designed to bring together early career and mid-career/senior researchers interested in studying developmental science from interdisciplinary perspectives.
    • The event will include brief data blitz presentations from the five 2019 SRCD Early Career Interdisciplinary Scholars who are conducting innovative research on child development from within the disciplines of pediatrics, communication science, social work, public policy, and nursing.
    • Following the data blitz, a distinguished panel of interdisciplinary researchers will discuss the challenges and rewards of conducting interdisciplinary research, provide perspectives on how interdisciplinary research within SRCD has changed over past years, and explore goals for interdisciplinary progress moving forward.
    • The event will conclude with a question and answer session designed to facilitate conversation among panel members, Early Career Scholars, and audience members.

Friday March 22 is also “Interdisciplinary Day” at the Biennial – the Talks about Development (TADs) and Invited Program on Friday will focus on interdisciplinary research.

Looking Ahead
“The Interdisciplinary Committee welcomes involvement from all SRCD members who are also active in other disciplinary organizations and would like to develop collaborative working relationships,” said current committee co-chair, Dr. Jennifer Silk, Psychology Professor at the University of Pittsburgh. “Interested members should contact the committee chairs with ideas.” 

The 2019 Biennial marks the end of Dr. Silk and Dr. Magnuson’s terms as co-chairs of the committee. SRCD appreciates all their contributions to the organization and welcomes incoming co-chairs Dr. Prachi Shah from the University of Michigan and Dr. Lynn Karoly, Senior Economist at the RAND Corporation and Professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School.