Professor Abigail Gewirtz is on the front lines of the world’s research to improve outcomes for children affected by trauma and extreme stress—from war to homelessness—and finding strategies that work best.
“One of the primary correlates of resilience in kids is effective parents and parenting,” she says. “The vast majority of children in the world don’t have access to mental health resources. But most children do have access to parents, so that’s our focus—putting tools in the hands of parents.”
Gewirtz works at the vanguard of prevention research, studying the way things work and getting effective methods into widespread practice. With appointments in both child development and family social science, and with collaborations across disciplines and communities, she is known for leading such large-scale projects as Ambit Network and Project ADAPT, now ADAPT4U, for military families.
“We are at the cusp of some very exciting advances,” says Gewirtz, “but it’s a race against time. Until recently, the path from discovery in research of all kinds to widespread use in regular practice has averaged 18 years! We have got to shorten that path.”
“This professorship will help shorten the time from discovery to practice. It is an amazing gift.” —Abi Gewirtz
This summer, Gewirtz became the first faculty member to hold the Lindahl Leadership Professorship, created to recruit and retain field-shaping faculty for the College of Education and Human Development. She plans to put her new support to work shortening the time from research to practice through multidisciplinary and community collaborations, involving more students in effectiveness and implementation research, and piloting new technologies to deliver effective interventions.
The new professorship was created by U alumni John and Nancy Lindahl as part of a larger gift to the University.
“We want the University to be a magnet to attract and keep the superstars who can really move the needle,” says Nancy Lindahl, ’68. “John and I feel blessed to be able to do this.”
Story by Gayla Marty| Photo by Dawn Villella | Fall 2015