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2016 NSF Graduate Research Fellow Sierra Kuzava

Sierra Kuzava
Sierra Kuzava

Sierra Kuzava

Grad program: Clinical Psychology
Undergrad: BA in Psychology, Columbia University
Hometown: Santa Fe, NM
Advisor: Kristin Bernard

How does it feel to earn an NSF GRF?
Wonderful! It’s a big honor. I’m so grateful for the opportunities it will bring and the confidence it’s given me.

What will this award allow you to do that you might not have done without it?
The biggest thing this award will give me is the time and flexibility to pursue my own research interests! This award will allow me to devise and carry out independent research in so many ways — from giving me time to come up with project ideas to funding the purchase of necessary equipment and participant compensation. I am thrilled to be able to freely pursue the ideas that excite me the most.

What will you research and how might it benefit the world?
I plan to examine the ways in which adversity experienced very early in life (such as childhood poverty and maltreatment) shapes the trajectory of development. I am particularly interested in understanding how both biological systems (e.g. immune functioning, reward sensitivity. and stress responsivity) and psychological systems (e.g. parenting and attachment) are affected in an interactive way by early adversity. Broadening our understanding of the reach of childhood poverty can help us to devise interventions that target both behavior and biology.

What sparked your interest in your research, or science in general?
My parents (a pediatrician and social worker) both work with high-risk families and have made a big difference in their community through intervention and prevention work. Their perspectives and experiences have inspired me to examine the science behind childhood adversity.

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