Postdoctoral Behavioral Research Training on Variations in Child and Adolescent Development


Project Directors: Sumru Erkut, Ph.D., Nancy P. Genero, Ph.D., Nancy L. Marshall, Ed.D., Pamela Alexander, Ph.D.


Below is a description of the program and what the application process looked like.

The Wellesley Centers for Women had three full-time research trainee positions sponsored by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. The training program was located at WCW in Wellesley, MA, and jointly administered by WCW senior researchers and selected Wellesley College faculty.

Description of the training program

The program provided systematic research training for candidates who wanted to develop expertise in research on childhood and adolescence and investigate variations in race and ethnicity, gender, and social class and how these interact with risk and resiliency factors in human development. One of the program’s goals was to identify and develop scholars from underrepresented groups who will launch independent research careers through external funding. Read more...


Postdoc trainee scholars were matched with a preceptor who served as a mentor. Scholars and their preceptors met on a regular basis during the course of the scholar's residency. The preceptors in this program (Sumru Erkut, Ph.D., Joanne Berger-Sweeney, Ph.D., Nancy Genero, Ph.D., Pamela Alexander, Ph.D., and Nancy Marshall, Ed.D.) were all senior researchers who held the title WCW senior research scientist or the rank of associate or full professor at Wellesley College. In addition, Allison Tracy, Ph.D., Michelle Porche, Ed.D., and Wendy Wagner Robeson, Ed.D., WCW senior research scientists, served as co-preceptors (see below for more detail). Before completing their application, candidates were encouraged to review the current research activities of the preceptors. Upon selection, scholars indicated their first and second preceptor choices. The program directors, in consultation with the preceptors, determined the final matches. Read more...

Training and career development

The program offered training and career development through a combination of formal seminars and informal, regular interactions with preceptors and other scholars in the field. We devised a curriculum designed to provide instruction in child and adolescent development among understudied populations as well as research methods to better equip trainee scholars to conduct independent research on variations in race and ethnicity, gender, and social class and how these interact with the risk and resiliency factors that contribute to the development of children and adolescents. Read more...

Working with preceptors

Preceptors provided direct supervision for postdoctoral trainee scholars working on the preceptor’s externally funded research projects as well as support and mentoring for launching the scholars' independent research. Preceptors followed the scholars' professional development during the postdoctoral training and beyond. Listed below are their research topics, which can be further explored on the researchers' personal research pages.


Sumru Erkut, Ph.D.
Director of Research Training Program
Associate Director and Senior Research Scientist
Wellesley Centers for Women



  • identity development among adolescents of color

  • perceived discrimination

  • adolescent sexual health risk behaviors

  • gender and sports

  • young fathers

Joanne Berger-Sweeney, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Biological Sciences
Co-Director, Psychobiology Program
Wellesley College


Nancy P. Genero, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Psychology
Wellesley College


  • acculturation and family relationships

  • cultural and social identity

  • introductory and advanced statistics

Pamela Alexander, Ph.D.
Senior Research Scientist
Wellesley Centers for Women



  • intimate partner violence

  • attachment theory and family violence

  • evaluation for prevention and intervention programs for violence within the family

Nancy L. Marshall, Ed.D.
Associate Director and Senior Research Scientist
Wellesley Centers for Women


  • environment (early care and education, after school experiences, maternal employment, poverty) and children’s development

  • childcare policy; universal pre-K

  • sociology of children and youth

Michelle V. Porche, Ed.D.
Senior Research Scientist
Wellesley Centers for Women


  • gender and achievement in science, engineeering and math

Allison Tracy, Ph.D.
Research Scientist, Resident Methodologist
Wellesley Centers for Women


  • research methods and design

  • statistical modeling

Wendy Wagner Robeson, Ed.D.
Senior Research Scientist
Wellesley Centers for Women


  • children's social and language development

  • early childcare and education and school readiness

Visiting Program Faculty