Fitzpatrick named BCTR Milman Fellow

By Stephen D’Angelo for the College of Human Ecology

Maria Fitzpatrick speaking in front of a room of people

Maria Fitzpatrick presenting at a parent education event

The Bronfenbrenner Center for Translational Research is pleased to welcome Maria Fitzpatrick, associate professor of policy analysis and management, as the recipient of the Evalyn Edwards Milman BCTR Faculty Fellowship, a role she will hold through June of 2019.

The Milman Fellowship program helps fulfill the BCTR mission to expand, strengthen, and speed the connections between cutting-edge research and efforts to enhance human development, health, and well-being by bringing a faculty member in the College of Human Ecology into the orbit of the BCTR, actively encouraging their engagement with the center and their commitment to its mission and success.

Fitzpatrick’s main area of focus is the economics of education, specifically on early childhood education policies, higher education and teacher compensation, benefits and labor supply.

“I’m honored to have been named the Milman Fellow this year and excited about the opportunities the Fellowship provides both for continuing to conduct my research on the well-being of children and older Americans and for extending my engagement with local communities around important issues for these populations,” Fitzpatrick said.

“For example, in work that’s being made possible by the Fellowship, Chris Wildeman and I are working to highlight the important role that teachers and schools play in identifying child maltreatment.  Longer term, the goal is to work with school districts to use this information to better train and assist teachers in this regard.”

Karl Pillemer, BCTR director and Hazel E. Reed Professor in the Department of Human Development, said “the BCTR often supports sociologists and psychologists in these roles, and we were really glad to expand it to an economist who is interested in translating her findings out to the public.”

“One of Maria’s great strengths lies in examining what we can do on a systemic level to encourage better parenting outcomes and reduce child maltreatment. This focus is perfect for the Bronfenbrenner Center, because it goes beyond a single program to fostering policy change at the state and national level.  According to Pillemer, as part of the fellowship, Fitzpatrick will be looking the impacts of universal pre-kindergarten on the development of young children, as well as its effect on parents and the family structure. She will also work to determine the role of childcare workers and school teachers in reporting and preventing child abuse, as the BCTR has a specific interest in child abuse prevention. As well, she will further her research into child maltreatment and the influence of different social safety net programs, such as food stamps and welfare, in its prevention.

“It’s tricky to find the answers to those questions, but I think that Maria is ideally poised for that kind of research and so we’re happy to help support it,” said Pillemer. “We hope to help her to promote her work, but also she can inform the center on the different types of approaches we can be taking to help people in these policy-related areas.”

Along with the Milman Fellowship and her role within the Department of Policy Analysis and Management, Fitzpatrick is a research associate at the National Bureau of Economic Research and an affiliate in the CESifo Research Network, the Cornell Population Center and the Center for the Study of Inequality.