June 2023, Dr. Tomoko Wakabayashi

  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? 

During the decade of conducting research for early childhood nonprofits, I became interested in how quality early childhood care and education can support child development, especially for children in under-resourced communities. While serving as Director of Research at HighScope Educational Research Foundation, I got to learn more about the HighScope Perry Preschool study, a randomized control trial initiated in the 1960’s that solidified the importance of quality early childhood education–so that is the most influential study for me. I have had the fortune of having many amazing mentors along the way, including Dr. Sherri Oden, who just recently retired from Oakland University,  Dr. Larry Schweinhart who is the President Emeritus at the HighScope Educational Research Foundation and Dr. Catherine Snow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education, but COVID-19 made me realize that I want to also contribute more to advocating for Asians and Asian Americans.

  • 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. 

My university, Oakland University, has a formal partnership with the neighboring City of Pontiac. I serve on the leadership team of the OU-Pontiac Initiative Early Childhood Education (OUPIECE) group. Since becoming involved in OUPIECE, I became very interested in how trauma and stress impact learning, and the importance of incorporating trauma-sensitive/resilience-informed practices as part of quality early childhood care and education. Pontiac is a struggling community, which has endured systemic and sustained racism and consequently, historical trauma. Only about 15 percent of children read proficiently at grade-level by the end of third grade. One of the major projects that OUPIECE has is the Pontiac Resilience Project. We work with the community as well as in schools to raise the awareness of adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) and to inform the community about how to build and support children’s healthy resilience. We are very excited with our current collaboration with youths as Community Champions. We currently have a pending chapter on this work, and plan to expand it to include literacy enrichment.

I’m also very excited about what we are doing as a part of the SRCD Asian Caucus Social Policy Subcommittee. We’re exploring large college mental health survey data, focusing on the experience of Asian and Asian American college students before and immediately after the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • 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. 

At the SRCD biennial meeting, I met new people, as well as people I only knew through Zoom, thanks to all of the wonderful  programs that the Asian Caucus put together. I am very excited that our Social Policy Subcommittee doubled our membership. I am grateful to Dr. Kaveri Subramanyam and Puja Patel for inviting me into this space, and I truly enjoy our committee’s collaborative spirit.

  • Any upcoming talks or presentations we should know about?

Not really. But I will be attending the American Educational Research Association (AERA) Annual Meeting in Chicago in mid-April. The presentation (roundtable) will be on our recent analysis of Michigan’s Kindergarten Entry Assessment data–not related to my work with OUPIECE, and we could not do any analysis by race/ethnicity.

  • What is your preferred contact email?


  • A weblink you prefer to share?

This OUPIECE google site  will be integrated into the university site soon, but so far, this is all I’ve got:


And here’s a google folder from the SRCD Asian Caucus Social Policy Subcommittee presentation at SRCD:


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *