University of Miami College of Arts & Sciences Graduate Student Receives Prestigious U.S. Fellowship

Emily Barbara Prince, a graduate student at the University of Miami (UM) College of Arts & Sciences Department of Psychology, was accepted into the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP). Out of nearly 17,000 applicants, 2,000 graduate students were awarded this honor.

College of Arts & Sciences Psychology Professor, and Prince’s research mentor, Dr. Daniel Messinger, recommended the GRFP to Prince as her research in child development will be greatly beneficial in the field of psychology. Her research delves into infant interaction with parents, especially regarding behavior and development in their attachments.

“We’re using new techniques to exam how kids interact with their parents, especially infants,” said Prince. “I’m interested in this idea of attachment between mom and infant, or parent and infant, and seeing what kind of behaviors play into this attachment.”

Utilizing audio analysis and motion trackers that are embedded in the lab walls, Prince’s role is to examine the interaction between the parent and child, and how the child reacts to their parent leaving the room.

In this data collection phase, each 20-30 minute interaction can produce as much as a terabyte of information between parent and child. "It's a lot of analysis, a lot of time spent figuring what are the variables of interest because we get a lot of information from this 20-30 minute interaction," she said.

Prince’s case studies comprise of 34 families, and her lab works in conjunction with various universities throughout the U.S., including Georgia Tech and the University of Pittsburg. The greatest contributors to her research are computer scientists who created the program that measures the parent-child interaction in 3D.

Prince is in the second year of her master’s program and is expected to graduate in 2017. With her Ph.D. ambitions at UM, she will graduate with a doctorate in 2020. Afterward, she plans on starting her lab. “Way down the road. That's the ultimate goal,” she said.

The NSF Fellowship is awarded to only an exclusive group of graduate students whose potential research is significant to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The GRFP provides a grant that covers three years of funding within the five-year fellowship program – a $34,000 annual stipend and $12,000 for tuition costs.


April 19, 2016