Brandywine Professor and Program Coordinator of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS) Cynthia Lightfoot has been named director of academic affairs (DAA) at Penn State Brandywine, effective July 1, 2014. She will take over for current Interim Director of Academic Affairs and Professor of Chemistry John Tierney, who has served as interim DAA for the past five months.
Lightfoot earned her B.A. in psychology from the University of California, Santa Cruz, her M.A. in psychology from the University of British Columbia, Vancouver and her Ph.D. in psychology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill.
She joined Penn State Brandywine in 1998 as Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies and also served as the HDFS program head for all Penn State University College campuses. Prior to her tenure at Brandywine, she spent eight years at the State University of New York at Plattsburgh as assistant professor and later associate professor.
"The campus is positioned for a lot of change in terms of new academic programs, bringing on residence halls and hiring faculty. I'm really excited about being a part of that," Lightfoot explained. "My interests have expanded to the role of higher education in contributing to social justice and transformation and I'm excited about bringing on programing that is consistent with that vision."
Lightfoot's research areas include adolescent peer group culture and socialization, identity development, risk-taking and teen pregnancy. She has also done work focusing on eating practices of low-income children, family acculturation and school readiness of immigrant children.
Undergraduates are continuously involved in her research projects, working with children and families to better understand the cultural framework of childhood development. Her students have presented their work at local, regional and international conferences.
Lightfoot has served on the editorial boards for the journals "Culture and Psychology" and "Cognitive Development." She is also President-elect of the Jean Piaget Society, an international association of scholars and researchers focused on exploring the developmental structure of human knowledge, according to its website. Lightfoot will assume her presidency this June.