Sanford Professor Wins Children’s Mental Health Research Award

Anna Gassman-Pines, assistant professor at Duke University’s Sanford School of Public Policy and a faculty fellow of Duke’s Center for Child and Family Policy, was selected as the first recipient of the Victoria S. Levin Award for Early Career Success in Young Children’s Mental Health Research.

The award, given by the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), recognizes Gassman-Pines’ interdisciplinary work on the effects of welfare and employment policies on the well-being of low-income young children and their mothers. In addition to the importance of these issues, her research proposal is distinguished by the use of innovative, sophisticated methods to assess the effects of public policy on daily functioning of young children and their parents, according to SRDC.  

The $25,000 Victoria S. Levin award supports a reduction in teaching responsibilities, during which time the awardee submits a grant application to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in the area of early childhood mental health. It also provides for mentoring and other support for the NIH grant application.

The award was created in honor of Levin’s 30 years of distinguished service at the NIH, where she had a special interest in scientific research that addressed young children’s mental health. The award aims to heighten the chances of early career success in achieving federal funding for developmentally informed research that addresses the early foundations of children’s mental health and well-being. The award was made possible by donations from her friends, colleagues and family members.

Gassman-Pines’ research proposal, “Daily Variation in Parental Work Experiences, Family Processes, and Young Children’s Behavior,” would seek to assess how parents’ daily experiences in the workplace relate to family functioning and their children’s behavior. Most similar research has focused on a single point in time, rather than the day-to-day variation within the same family, and on working mothers, Gassman-Pines said.

“Despite the fact that both mothers and fathers are very important to child development, most employment research relates to the mother’s employment rather than the employment of mothers and fathers, and that’s where the research literature has been for a long time,” she said.

Gassman-Pines received her BA with distinction in psychology from Yale University and her PhD in community and developmental psychology from New York University. She holds an additional appointment in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke.

SRCD is a multidisciplinary, not-for-profit, professional association with a membership of approximately 5,500 researchers, practitioners, and human development professionals from more than 50 countries. For additional information, please visit