The Center on the Developing Child at Harvard and the Novak Djokovic Foundation recently named three Harvard doctoral students as the 2018–19 recipients of the Djokovic Science and Innovation Fellowship.

April Boin Choi (HGSE/GSAS), Scott Delaney (HSPH), and Zhihui Li (HSPH) will each receive a grant to support their independent dissertation research:

  • April Boin Choi — Investigating neural and behavioral development in infants at risk for ASD and early interventions that can promote positive long-term outcomes in children with or at risk for ASD
  • Scott Delaney — Investigating the social determinants of health and child development with an emphasis on neurodevelopmental and behavioral outcomes
  • Zhihui Li — Investigating the impact of prenatal exposure to sand and dust storms on fetal and child health and development

The Center and the Djokovic Foundation launched the Fellowship in 2016 to create a new generation of academic leaders who will leverage science for innovation in early childhood policy and practice. The Fellowship 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.

This feeds directly into the mission of the Djokovic Foundation, which promotes healthy child development and high-quality early education by empowering and training teachers and supporting innovative academic research. The Foundation believes in giving every child the opportunity to grow up, play, and develop in stimulating, creative, and safe settings. Alberto Lidji, Global CEO, Djokovic Foundation said, “We are pleased to welcome this year’s cohort of Djokovic Fellows to our family. They are truly remarkable, inspiring, and have embraced research areas that are highly consequential for the field of early childhood development – an issue which must be tackled as a social and economic imperative.”

“We must also recognize the intellectual curiosity and hard work of last year’s Djokovic Fellows, who are making great strides in their research and will shortly become the first alumni of this program. We are fortunate to be working with Jack Shonkoff, his team at the Center, and everyone at Harvard, as we celebrate excellence in early childhood development and inspire the next generation of champions in this field.”

Jack P. Shonkoff, M.D., Director of the Center on the Developing Child, added: “To conquer the debilitating effects of poverty, discrimination, violence, and maltreatment on the lives of young children, the world needs a pipeline of innovative leaders who understand the science of early childhood development, how adversity undermines well-being, and what can be done to promote positive outcomes for all children. We’re delighted to continue our partnership with the Djokovic Foundation by investing in a new cohort of Fellows who will lead the way in driving science-based strategies to produce breakthrough impacts on the lives of those who are facing adversity.”

In addition to participating in Center-sponsored events, the 2018–19 Djokovic Fellows will receive training from the Center on innovation methods, communicating science effectively, leadership, and policy strategy.

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