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Release: Immediate

UI professors win Obermann Center grants to study children

IOWA CITY, Iowa -- Four University of Iowa faculty members have won grants from the Obermann Center for Advanced Studies to support their research on children and families. The Spelman Rockefeller Grants for studies of children and their families provide up to $5,000 in funding and are awarded annually to UI faculty members.

This year's winners are: Jennifer Glass, professor of sociology; Joyce L. Moore, assistant professor of psychological and quantitative foundations, Michael W. O'Hara, professor of psychology, and Scott R. Robinson, associate professor of psychology.

Jay Semel, director of the Obermann Center, said that winners of these grants in recent years have gone on to win grants from the National Institutes of Health and the American Heart Association and have published articles on the newborn heart, on classroom community-building, and on children who are accident-prone. In addition, winners of the Spelman Rockefeller grants occasionally present their research findings to local community groups.

These grants are supported by the UI Laura Spelman Rockefeller Fund and by the Office of the Vice President for Research.

The projects being funded this year include:

"Family Responsive Workplace Policies, Parenting, and Children's Well-Being: A Study Relating Employment Conditions to Family Functioning," by Jennifer Glass. She will study approximately 80 Midwestern dual-earner couples with children to determine how family-responsive policies at the parents' workplaces affect parental behavior and children's outcomes. Family-responsive workplace policies include flexible scheduling, reduced work hours, and family-supportive environments.

"Transfer of Mathematical Learning and Reasoning," by Joyce L. Moore. This study will attempt to understand better what it means to learn and reason mathematically. Moore will focus on beginning algebraic reasoning with an emphasis on the psychological issues involved in linking familiar physical experiences with abstract mathematics. She will study how children learn and reason about linear functional relations, and how they transfer their learning to new situations.

"Transcultural Study of Postpartum Depression," by Michael W. O'Hara. This project involves collecting the initial data necessary to support the North American component of a transcultural study of postpartum depression and its effects on children. In this initial phase, O'Hara will be collecting data about the effectiveness of a newly-developed test that measures social adversity and social support, particularly for pregnant women. The test, called "Contextual Assessment of Maternity Experience," was developed in England and must be tested in other countries before it can be used in the full transcultural study O'Hara is planning with colleagues in Europe, the Middle East, South America, Africa, and Asia and the Pacific Rim.

"Organization of Motor Activity in the Preterm Infant," by Scott R. Robinson. He will study the development of motor activity in preterm human infants to determine whether similar studies performed on animals provide data that can be applied to human development. The study also will attempt to assess the potential influence of diet -- breast milk versus formula -- on the expression and development of organized motor activity in the preterm infant.

5/14/98