Professor awarded fellowship for childhood development

Students who plan on taking classes in early childhood development next year might benefit from newly updated courses when Assistant Professor Kristina de Korsak finishes her yearlong research with the Simms/Mann Institute for Education and Community Development’s fellowship program.  

De Korsak was chosen, along with eight other professors in the California State University system, for the fellowship because of her work and research on the early development of children.

According to their website, the Simms/Mann Institute was founded in 2011 to provide research and resources to families and childcare workers raising children of the 21st century. The institute aims to update the way schools educate and take care of children for the modern times through programs such as the Simms/Mann Institute Faculty Fellowship. This year, the fellowship will study early childhood brain architecture, from birth to age three.

“The goal [of the institute] is to bring cutting edge neuropsychology into the hands of childcare workers and developers,” said de Korsak. “We are the ones that train the future, and we’re in a great position to bring that research to the people who use the work.”

The faculty fellowship was formed in 2013 to train early childhood development and nursing students by teaming up California State University faculty and California Community College faculty with cutting edge researchers in an attempt to bridge the gap between research and practice.

“The institute tries to look at the whole child, instead of only one aspect of it, trying to build a more complete picture,” de Korsak said. “So instead of just looking at the neuropsychological aspect or the physical aspect, we try to look at all of the aspects together, so it’s great to have a community of people.” 

In order to be accepted into the fellowship, candidates must go through an application process and attend a conference to meet the institute’s researchers in person. Once accepted, fellowship members must attend the institute’s annual Think Tank where researchers talk about their cutting edge discoveries and collaborate with the fellowship’s new members.

At this year’s Think Tank, 13 individuals were publicly awarded acceptance into the fellowship, including de Korsak. The 13 fellows include faculty from San Diego State, CSU Stanislaus, CSU San Bernardino, CSU Long Beach, CSU Channel Islands, CSU San Marcos, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, and five different community colleges from the Mojave Desert to Modesto. This is the first year the institute has elected faculty from CSUs. At the end of her project, de Korsak and the other fellows will present their findings at next year’s Think Tank, where new members will be elected and the cycle shall continue.

“I think this is an opportunity for all the players in the field of early childhood to come together,” said de Korsak. “It’s an opportunity for people to learn more about this research and an opportunity for our campus to be able to bring this into our classes and courses at Sonoma State.”