New BBS Researcher Focused on Family Dynamics

Jackie Nelson

Dr. Jackie Nelson

Dr. Jackie Nelson, a new assistant professor in the UT Dallas School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences (BBS), is interested in parents and children, and the ways family relationships contribute to emotional development.

Nelson joined UT Dallas this fall, and the psychologist is primarily teaching classes centered on child development and parental interactions. She said she is enjoying getting to know her new students and faculty colleagues.

“My early impression of UT Dallas students is that they are very intelligent, curious and enthusiastic, with a diverse range of backgrounds and experiences,” she said.

After graduating with a Bachelor of Arts degree in psychology from Elon University, Nelson earned her Master of Science and PhD degrees in human development and family studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She is looking forward to collaborating on a variety of projects with her new colleagues in BBS.

“I wanted to come here because of the outstanding developmental faculty and supportive climate,” she said. “I also appreciate the emphasis on mentoring — both formal and informal — between junior and senior faculty, as well as the enthusiastic students.”

Nelson’s research looks at emotional family processes from a systems prospective, recognizing that family members and relationships are interconnected. She’s interested in parent-child relationships and how mothers and fathers influence one another’s parenting practices.

Nelson also is planning to further her examinations of the negative spillover from family stress, the effect of parents’ beliefs and the socialization of children’s emotional development. She will work closely with colleagues in the Center for Children and Families and other BBS centers.

It was a love for children and an interest in how common, everyday interactions shape family climates that drew Nelson into her field of research. She said she enjoys sharing her knowledge and exchanging ideas with students in class, and also is eager to involve undergraduates and graduate students in her research pursuits.

Dr. Bert Moore, dean of BBS, said Nelson will be a valuable addition to the faculty, both as a teacher and an investigator.

“Dr. Nelson’s expertise both complements and extends our focus on contexts for the optimal development of children,” he said. “Her interest in examining biological markers of parents’ and children’s reactions to family dynamics in an important addition to our research programs.”

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