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Explore Health and Human Development

HDFS at Penn State has a long tradition of integrating behavioral and biological levels of analysis. What has always set HDFS apart is the strong theoretical role of context in all developmental processes, including biological development. This tradition has come to a forefront in developmental research as the completion of the human genome project has resulted in unequivocal evidence that the environment contributes powerfully to biological development at every stage, and that phenotypes result from the synergistic forces of nature and nurture. We continue that tradition in HDFS through both our graduate training and programs of research. The graduate training program is designed to address individual student needs from providing conceptual groundwork and terminological fluency in biology x environment developmental processes, to the laboratory research opportunities to develop a fully integrative program of research.

The National Institute of Health and its component agencies that represent the primary source of research funding for HDFS investigators have begun to highlight the value of multi-disciplinary research in the quest to understand mechanisms surrounding normative and pathological development. The understanding of these mechanisms is of utmost importance in the design and implementation of prevention and intervention programs. Therefore, students obtaining an HDFS degree will be offered an introductory course addressing neuroscience perspectives in human development and family science. This course will serve to introduce students, regardless of their previous backgrounds, to biological theory, process, and measurement, in order develop competency in reviewing literature, and integrating these ideas into your own work.

In addition to this course, HDFS students are encouraged to complete course work that is relevant for their own research goals. For students who are interested in biologically/neuroscience-oriented research careers, there are many course options available within and outside of the College of Health and Human Development, and a customized neuroscience track can be developed to suit the needs of individual students.