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The Socio-Ecological and Cultural Context of Early-Life Development

Monday, Nov 7, 2016 @ 12:00 pm - 1:00 pm

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School of Education Brownbag
“The Socio-Ecological and Cultural Context of Early-Life Development”

Guest Lecture by Molly Fox, Assistant Professor
UCLA Department of Anthropology
UCLA Department of Psychiatry & Biobehavioral Sciences

Monday, November 7, 2016 12:00 – 1:00 pm
Education 3216
Open to the public


Our minds and bodies are built in response to our environments. Starting in the earliest phases of the human lifespan, the process of development unfolds in a way that is highly sensitive and responsive to external conditions. The flexibility and sensitivity of early-life human development to external influence warrants deeper examination of the socio-ecological and cultural context of the fetal and infant life stages. In this lecture, I will discuss various relevant aspects of my ongoing research program, focused on longitudinal studies of mother-child dyads in Southern California. I measure (1) the quantity and family relatedness of people who interact with infants during the first few weeks of life, and (2) household chaos, routines, and activity patterns in the home. I assess how both of these types of experiences affect cognitive outcomes and emotion regulation at 6 and 12-months age. In a population of low-income pregnant Mexican-American women, I assess how socio-cultural changes, experiences, and stressors affect aspects of pregnancy biology that can alter developmental trajectories of offspring, thereby affecting health across generations.


Molly Fox is a biological anthropologist interested in the evolutionary context of chronic disease and the biosocial relationships between grandmothers, mothers, and children. Within the frameworks of evolutionary and developmental biology, her research focuses on maternal and grandmaternal transgenerational transmission of genes, phenotypes, life-history patterns, and disease risk. She synthesizes information from molecular, clinical, epidemiological, and anthropological research towards understanding the evolutionary context of human health and disease, family and societal structure, and addressing global health challenges. Dr. Fox received a BA in Anthropology and Theater Studies from Yale and a PhD in Biological Anthropology from University of Cambridge. Currently she is an Assistant Professor in the UCLA Department of Anthropology, and maintains a volunteer appointment in UCI’s Department of Pediatrics.



Monday, Nov 7, 2016
12:00 pm - 1:00 pm