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Rachel B. Tenenbaum, a doctoral student in the FIU Clinical Science Program was always passionate about helping children. As an undergrad, she was involved in research labs working with adults suffering from mental health problems and became interested in early intervention and prevention efforts after realizing she had the power to improve their outcomes.

“I merged my passion for children and psychology and was inspired by the ability to change the potential negative trajectory for a child at risk for developing mental health problems,” said Rachel. She even became involved with the Center for Children and Families prior to beginning her doctoral studies, serving as a counselor for their Summer Treatment Program.

Rachel’s passion to help children recently paid off when she won the Best Student Poster Award presented by the Society of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology (SCCAP), Division 53 of the American Psychological Association (APA) during the 2018 Miami International Child & Adolescent Mental Health (MICAMH) Conference hosted by the Center for Children and Families.

Rachel presented a research poster examining biological processes related to emotion regulation and response patterns among children with and without attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). The study suggests children with ADHD have more difficulty responding quickly to emotional stimuli and display emotion dysregulation biologically.

“I was very honored and excited to have received this distinguished award,” said Rachel. “This study was significant in improving our understanding of different mechanisms associated with emotion in children with ADHD with the hope to improve treatment outcomes in the future.”

The SCCAP, Division 53, APA Science Committee reviewed 30 research posters presented by students from universities across the country, basing the winner on overall scientific merit, originality and rigor in terms of research design.

“It was very important to the committee to give the award to a student that exhibited notable scientific rigor and originality of thought in their approach to child clinical psychological science,” said Dr. Jill Ehrenreich-May, chair of the Science Committee, SCCAP, Div. 53, APA and associate professor at the University of Miami. “We are proud to say that Ms. Tennenbaum’s poster was an ideal representation of these values and are thrilled that she is able to represent Division 53 as the first student poster award of this kind from our Science Committee.”

The Science Committee of SCCAP, Division 53 of the APA is comprised of distinguished researchers from various universities, including FIU, Yale University, University of Miami, John Hopkins University, Fordham University, University of Houston and University of Kansas.

“I am so proud of Rachel and her work on this project,” said Dr. Erica Musser, assistant professor in the Department of Psychology and Rachel’s mentor. “Her methods were sophisticated and her results help us to better understand the complex interplay of cognition and emotion in youth with ADHD.”

Rachel’s ultimate goal is to build a research program focused on examining emotion-related factors that can potentially serve as treatment targets across psychopathology in order to improve long-term functional outcomes. “I am starting to branch out clinically and work with children with chronic illnesses and am becoming interested in integrating my research interests to help these children and their families cope with their illness through improving their emotion regulation abilities,” she added.