The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard University and the Novak Djokovic Foundation announced today that four Harvard doctoral students have been awarded the Djokovic Science and Innovation Fellowship for the 2019-20 academic year. Each Fellow will receive a grant to support their independent dissertation research.

The Center and the Novak Djokovic Foundation launched the Djokovic Fellowship in 2016, with the aim of creating a new generation of leaders who will leverage science for innovation in early childhood policy and practice settings to make research actionable. The fellowship program fosters interdisciplinary collaboration and builds each fellow’s capacity to design, conduct, and translate research into practices and policies that will improve outcomes for children facing adversity.

The 2019-2020 Djokovic Science and Innovation Fellows

Jacob Beckerman is a doctoral candidate in population health sciences, a program offered by the Harvard University Graduate School of Arts and Sciences (GSAS) in collaboration with the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. His research interests lie in early childhood nutrition, obesity prevention, and the social determinants of health. His current research focuses on the timing of weight gain in early childhood to inform when is best to intervene, as well as the relationship between neighborhood context and early childhood obesity. Beckerman is also investigating the impacts of a peer-led health promotion program for the parents of preschool-aged children in low-income communities. Jacob received a B.S. in biology with a minor in Spanish from Georgetown University, and an M.P.H. in community health sciences from the University of California, Los Angeles. His mentor will be Kirsten Davison, Donald and Sue Pritzker Associate Professor of Nutrition at the Harvard T.H. Chan Departments of Nutrition and Social and Behavioral Sciences.

Emily Hanno is a doctoral candidate in education policy and program evaluation, a program offered by the Harvard Graduate School of Education (HGSE) in collaboration with GSAS. Through her research, she  seeks to unpack the processes of common professional development interventions aimed at improving caregiver practices, to understand what about coaching interventions works and what doesn’t. Hanno received a B.A. in economics and international relations from Tufts University, and an Ed.M. in human development and psychology from HGSE. Her mentor will be Center-affiliated faculty member Dana Charles McCoy, assistant professor of education at HGSE.

Gabriel Schwartz is a doctoral candidate in population health sciences, a program offered by GSAS in collaboration with the Chan School of Public Health. His research in social epidemiology examines links between neighborhoods, social policy, and racial and health inequities. Currently, Schwartz’s work explores the impact of eviction on children’s well-being and the relation between discriminatory policing regimes and birth outcomes. Gabriel received a B.A. in human biology and sociology from Brown University. His mentor will be Lisa Berkman, Director of the Harvard Center for Population and Development Studies, Director of the Ph.D. Program in Population Health Sciences, and Thomas D. Cabot Professor of Public Policy, Epidemiology, and Global Health and Population at the Chan School of Public Health.

Michele Zemplenyi is a doctoral candidate in biostatistics, a program offered by GSAS in collaboration with the Chan School of Public Health. Her research examines the intersections of genomics, environmental science, and children’s health. Michele wants to explore how prenatal exposure to toxins can affect long-term health outcomes for children. Michele received a A.B. in statistics and a Secondary Field in chemistry from Harvard College, and an A.M. in biostatistics from Harvard University. Her mentor will be Brent Coull, Professor of Biostatistics, Associate Chair of the Department of Biostatistics at the Chan School of Public Health.