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Teaching Adolesence

Emerging Scholar Spotlight: Madeleine George

February 2018

Madeleine George, Ph.D., is a Post-Doctoral Research Associate in the School of Brain and Behavioral Sciences at the University of Texas at Dallas. After completing her B.S. in Biology and Psychology at the University of Wisconsin at Madison, Madeleine taught fourth grade at Cofradia Bilingual School in Honduras and high school English at Lycee Bourdelle in France. Through these experiences, she learned how simple forms of social support and encouragement can promote the healthy development of children and adolescents. She also noticed the growing importance of mobile devices in youths’ daily lives, particularly for fostering relationships with youth and their families. She began working with Dr. Candice Odgers at the University of California at Irvine and then received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology at Duke University.

Broadly, Madeleine’s research focuses on how adolescents’ technology usage and virtual communication may influence their wellbeing and development. Her research aims to take a rigorous and balanced perspective on both the positive and negative implications of adolescents’ online activities. Her recent findings have shown that increased daily technology usage are associated with higher same-day externalizing symptoms and increased longitudinal conduct problems among at-risk adolescents. Conversely, her dissertation examined whether virtual communication facilitate access to social support networks showing that daily texting with parents may be associated with enhanced wellbeing and daily stress buffering during transition to college.
Madeleine is also interested leveraging mobile technologies for multi-method research studies with young people. She has used mobile phones in ecological sampling studies to gather daily self-reports of technology use and mental health symptoms alongside wearable wristbands to objectively monitor daily physical health markers (e.g., sleep). Madeleine is currently examining the longitudinal implications of the content of adolescents’ text messages with parents and peers with Dr. Marion Underwood and the BlackBerry project team.

Madeleine has two pieces of advice for emerging scholars, based on her research training and long-term participation in local improvisational comedy. The first is the classic improvisational phrase ‘yes, and’. Get involved in existing projects (‘yes’) and try to find new ways to explore or incorporate your own ideas (‘and’). Specifically, engage in collaborative research that advances your professional interests and networks. ‘Yes, and’ does not mean pursue EVERY project imaginable, but to be open to new opportunities and commit fully to the ones with which you are involved.

The second piece of improvisational and career advice is ‘to focus on the now’. Thinking about graduate school, conferences, and research papers can often be overwhelming. There can be pressure to have every part of a project, every paper idea, or every step in a career mapped out, which may not fit with the reality of unexpected challenges (or opportunities!). Sometimes, focusing on immediate, attainable goals (e.g., learning a new statistical technique) can help jumpstart your ideas and build up enough resources for the larger project to succeed.


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