Meet Our Bloggers
Riana Elyse Anderson is a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Research Fellow at the University of Pennsylvania. She earned her PhD in Clinical Psychology from the University of Virginia and completed her predoctoral internship at Yale University in 2015. Riana investigates how protective familial mechanisms such as parenting and racial socialization operate in the face of risks linked to poverty, discrimination, and residential environment. She is particularly interested in how these factors predict familial functioning and subsequent child psychosocial and academic achievement, especially when enrolled in family-based interventions. Riana has served as a junior mentor for both SRA and SRCD and loves to translate her work for a variety of audiences, particularly those whom she serves in the community via blogs, video, and literary articles. Finally, she enjoys all things food, sports, music, and travel, and is adventurous – except for the outdoors.
I have been talking and teaching about sex, sexuality, and relationships since 2001. Starting in high school and then in college, I taught workshops in public schools, provided peer counseling, and dove into curriculum and program development. After two years as a public school teacher providing health and sex education to middle school students, I decided to ground my sexuality work within a developmental perspective. In 2015, I completed my Ph.D. in Child Study and Human Development from Tufts University. I now have a Postdoctoral Fellowship at Youth-Nex at University of Virginia.
My research takes a skills-based approach to promoting adolescent sexual wellness, with particular attention to the needs and experiences of youth marginalized by heterosexism and White normativity. I seek to understand how interpersonal processes such as empathy and connection are constrained and facilitated by social structures such as gender and race. I apply this work to sex education and sexual violence prevention in public schools, college campuses, and youth development programs.
I love dancing, and I love taking really long walks, whether on the beach or downtown. Most of all, I love talking to people about feelings, relationships, and social justice. For two years, I wrote The Debrief, a weekly column on sex, dating, and relationships at JewishBoston.com. I also write at sexedtransforms.blogspot.com, and tweet @MimiArbeit. I am excited to use this blog as a way of deepening my engagement with the SRA community.
Growing up I used to think my parents were the proverbial “best thing(s) since sliced bread.” They were smart, kind, and (mostly) fun people. I was shocked to learn later that they grew up in homes challenged by domestic violence and abuse—a startling contrast to my pretty uneventful childhood. I wondered: what made them so resilient? How did they become such well-adjusted individuals and competent parents despite their childhood experiences? These overarching questions fueled my interest in graduate studies in developmental psychology. In both my masters and doctoral programs, I grew to appreciate the myriad forces that shape the developing individual.
This summer I will earn my PhD in Applied Developmental Psychology from Fordham University, and in the fall, I will be an Assistant Professor at Dickinson College. My research examines how social and contextual factors (i.e., parent and peer relationships, microaggressions) influence academic and socio-emotional development from childhood through emerging adulthood, with a focus on immigrants and racial-ethnic minorities. For example, my dissertation uses longitudinal data and person-centered approaches to examine the association between parents’ home and school educational involvement trajectories and change in youth’s behavioral and emotional classroom engagement across the middle and high school transitions in an ethnically diverse sample. I also examine whether the associations between parent involvement and engagement vary by immigrant status. I am excited about exploring new avenues for extending my work in this area.
Blogging for SRA will be an extension of what I enjoy most about being in the academy: collaboration and engagement with colleagues. As an Emerging Scholar blogger, I plan to share reflections, insights, and resources focused primarily on making the transition to a tenure-track appointment at a small liberal arts college. I also hope to get many opportunities to engage with and learn from readers of this blog.