Postdoctoral Fellows

Leanne Beaudoin Ryan, Ph.D. 2014-2016
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Leanne Beaudoin-Ryan is the Associate Director of Research at the Erikson Institute. Dr. Beaudoin-Ryan earned her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology, as well as a Master’s degree in Social Science, from the University of Chicago. Broadly speaking, her research focuses on how communication can be used to optimize children’s learning. She has pursued this interest using multiple levels of analysis. Her dissertation examined how children’s spontaneously produced gestures can be used as a cognitive tool for developing the perspective-taking skills that undergird moral reasoning.

Aubry Alvarez, Ph.D. 2013-2014
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Dr. Aubry Alvarez earned her Ph.D. at Northwestern University and completed her undergraduate work at the University of Florida. Her research and clinical work focuses on scientific reasoning and social emotional development in young children with a special emphasis on the role of digital media. This work has been published in journals such as Child Development and the Journal of Neuroscience. Following her fellowship year at the Center on Media and Human Development in 2014, Dr. Alvarez joined the Public Broadcasting Service, where she managed the development of Ready to Learn educational products. In 2016, Dr. Alvarez opened a private pediatric therapy practice in the Washington D.C. area, where she continues to work as a consultant for governmental agencies as well as companies such as Common Sense Media and Discovery Communications. She loves keeping up with the world of children’s media and loves the CMHD! 

Doctoral Graduates

Lisa Hurwitz, Ph.D.
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Lisa Hurwitz is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the Center on Media and Child Health at Harvard Medical School/Boston Children’s Hospital. She uses theories in human development, communication, and program evaluation to assess children’s media-related policies, programs, and projects. She is primarily interested in media’s effects on children’s learning, but also has engaged in research linking media exposure to the childhood obesity epidemic. Prior to her graduate studies at Northwestern, Lisa worked briefly in the children’s media industry, with on-screen credits including Mickey Mouse Clubhouse, Jake and the Never Land Pirates, WordWorld, and Sesame Street: 40 Years of Sunny Days.

Heather M. Montague, Ph.D. 
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Heather is a researcher at the American Academy of Pediatrics. Her areas of research include the effects of media and technology on childhood and adolescent health and the impacts of food marketing on childhood obesity. In addition to her academic pursuits, Heather has also worked with the Consortium to Lower Obesity in Chicago Children at Lurie Children’s Hospital to develop educational campaigns and promote health policy change in Chicago.

Drew Cingel, Ph.D.
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Drew Cingel is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Communication at the University of California, Davis. His areas of research include adolescent-peer relationships, and peer influence, on social networking sites, children’s learning from tablet computers, and the impact of television on children’s moral reasoning.

Courtney K. Blackwell, Ph.D. 
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Courtney Blackwell is a Research and Evaluation Associate at Outlier Research & Evaluation at the University of Chicago. She is currently working on the STEM School Study, a four-year NSF-funded project investigating inclusive STEM high schools across the United States. This study seeks to provide insight into the essential components of STEM schools, what factors affect the implementation of these components, and how these components are associated with student achievement. Additionally, she is working on the Evaluation Study to evaluate how K-12 teachers implement computer science curricular materials and how this implementation is associated with teacher and student outcomes.

Research Coordinator

Francesca Pietrantonio, B.A. 2016-2017
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Francesca is pursuing a Master’s degree in Integrated Marketing and Communications at Medill at Northwestern University. She hopes to gain experience working at a digital marketing agency then pursue a career in either the consumer product, nonprofit, or entertainment sectors.

Megan Olsen, B.A. 2015-2016
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Megan is pursuing her Master’s in Social Work at the University of Chicago. She plans to work with older adults. Having completed an internship with PCC Community Wellness, she will be interning at Rush University Medical Center.

Research Assistants

Nadalyn Bangura 2017

Dashia Kwok, B.A. 2015-2017

Meredith Ford, B.A. 2015-2017

Francesca Pietrantonio, B.A. 2015-2016

Megan Olsen, B.A. 2014-2015

Eric Morales, B.A. 2014-2016

Bri Hightower, B.A. 2013-2014

Colette Ghunim, B.A. 2014

Ariel Maschke, B.S. 2012-2013

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