Feb 2022 Spotlight, Siman Zhao, Ph.D.

This month, we are delighted to introduce Dr. Siman Zhao (szhao2@udayton.edu) as our member in the spotlight. Dr. Zhao is an Assistant Professor at the Department of Psychology, University of Dayton.

  1. Can you write a couple sentences on some aspect of your career development: feel free to pick one or any other related question among these: a) what drew you to do work on Asians, Asian American children and youth, or another topic that is important to you now? b) who was an important mentor to you in this work, or an influential particular study in the field or in a related field? c) any particular advice or tips to someone starting out in the field who is doing work in your area? 

My research focuses on how parents, peers, and socio-cultural contexts influence children’s socioemotional adjustment. I grew up in a small city in southwest China, spent four years in Shanghai for undergraduate school, and then moved to North America for graduate school. The experiences of living in different places with distinct cultures make me aware of the importance of cultural contexts in shaping individual development. I am fortunate to have Dr. Xinyin Chen as my mentor who introduced me to the field of socioemotional development and guided me to study contextual influences on development. I am grateful for his mentorship and support.   

  • A short paragraph describing a particular recent finding, current study, or recent publication and what makes you excited about it.  Feel free to describe its importance from any one or more of these lenses: a) research contribution; b) our knowledge about Asian or Asian American populations; c) our knowledge about other [understudied?] populations; d) practice or policy relevance. 

Recently, my colleagues and I have published a study in the Journal of Family Psychology on maternal encouragement of sociability in non-migrant and rural-to-urban migrant groups in China. We found that maternal encouragement of sociability has opposite effects on child development in the two groups. It was negatively related to loneliness in non-migrant children but not migrant children. Among migrant children, such behavior was related to victimization and learning problems for those who had higher initial problems. The results imply that the same parenting behavior might have different functions in different family contexts (i.e., non-migrant and migrant) within the same culture. This study provided valuable information about the involvement of social circumstances in human development through parenting in contemporary Chinese society.

  • If you have any thoughts about your experiences with the Asian Caucus, that would be great!  These can be just for the Caucus leadership to know, and/or a message to the Caucus community. 

Asian Caucus provides valuable opportunities for scholars to build connections. I enjoy going to the events organized by Asian Caucus at SRCD where I meet many scholars who have similar interests. I also learn a lot of interesting work through reading spotlights.

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