Charles B. Knapp Early Career Scholar Award 2021
Katherine Ehrlich, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology, leverages cutting-edge biological methods to understand health consequences of problematic parenting, racial discrimination and socioeconomic disadvantage. Her research often focuses on how children’s experiences become embedded in their physical health, including their immune systems, during development. In one study, she and her colleagues examined whether early-life adversity versus current stress more strongly predicted inflammatory response to challenge over time. From children’s blood samples drawn over several years, the researchers found that adversity in early life predicted enhanced interleukin-6 production whereas current stress did not. This research could provide critical information about sensitive periods for immune system development. In another study, she reported that children’s attachments to their parents were associated with asthma management. Her more recent research explores health disparities and resilience among high-achieving African American children and youth.