Erikson’s doctoral students come from around the world to pursue diverse applied research interests.


Doctoral Student Association
Ph.D. students are supported by the Doctoral Student Association, an Erikson student group working to promote an intellectual and social community. Kandace Thomas and Amy Clark serve as co-chairs for the 2014-15 academic year.
The Doctoral Student Association organizes the Applied Child Development Seminar Series, an intellectual forum on topics related to applied child development research.

Ph.D. student biographies

Tiffany Burkhardt

B.A., University of Minnesota at Twin Cities
M.A., The University of Chicago
Interest areas:
Early socioemotional development, infant mental health, parent-child interaction, and child and family policy topics
Dissertation title: The Development of Emotion Regulation: The Impact of Synchrony, Maternal Well-Being, and Infant Crying

Tiffany is an associate researcher at Chapin Hall, a research and policy center at the University of Chicago. Her current work involves home visiting program evaluation in Illinois.

Bilge Cerezci

B.S., University of Bosphorus
M.S., Erikson Institute
Interest areas: Early mathematics teaching and learning, instructional quality in early mathematics, pre-kindergarten and kindergarten assessment
Dissertation title: N/A

Bilge moved to Chicago in 2007 to attend Erikson. Before coming to Chicago, she worked as a preschool teacher and counselor in different preschools in Turkey. Currently, Bilge works for the Early Math Collaborative at Erikson Institute, focusing on refining a new measurement tool that can be used in preschool through third-grade classrooms in order to measure the quality of mathematics teaching.

Amy Clark

B.A., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
M.A., University of Colorado at Boulder
Interest areas: Identity construction, biliteracy development, and metalinguistic transfer among Spanish-English dual language learners
Dissertation title: N/A

Amy teaches in the Erikson Institute Bilingual/ESL Certificate Program and is a member of Erikson’s Early Math Collaborative. Her other experiences include teaching in dual language programs within Chicago Public Schools and writing K-2 curriculum for Heritage Speakers of Spanish.

Lud Abigail Duchatelier-Jeudy

B.A., Central Connecticut State University
M.P.H., Boston University
Interest areas: Racial and ethnic socialization processes among Haitian immigrant families, and psycho-social health and well-being of minority, immigrant, refugee children and families
Dissertation title: A Grounded Theory Study of Racial and Ethnic Socialization Processes of Haitian Immigrant Mothers in the Northeast Region of the United States

Abigail works for the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), Center for Consumer Information and Insurance Oversight, Exchange Policy and Operations Group, implementing the health care quality requirements of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act of 2010, assuring that health insurance companies provide efficient, high-quality care in the federally-facilitated marketplaces. Abigail was born in Port-au-Prince, Haiti and migrated to United States at the age of 18. She was the American Public Health Association Maternal and Child Health Fellow from 2004 to 2005.

Amber L. Evenson

B.A., St. Olaf College
M.S., Ed.S., University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee
Interest areas: Infant-parent relationships, infant sleep, parenting self-efficacy, familial sleeping approaches, and the role of culture as it pertains to these topics.
Dissertation topic: N/A

Amber practiced as a school psychologist in Milwaukee and Chicago for three years, and became interested in addressing behavioral and relationship challenges from an early childhood developmental perspective. At Erikson, Amber conducted research and program evaluation for the Fussy Baby Network, and now works as the project manager and research coordinator for the Fussy Baby Network New Orleans and Gulf Coast Region Initiative.

Ilana Dvorin Friedman

B.A., Brandeis University
M.S., Erikson Institute
Interest areas: Early childhood professional development, Jewish early childhood education, and parenting and gender construction
Dissertation title:

Ilana is an adjunct instructor at Harold Washington College and the Blitstein Institute. Ilana has also served as the early childhood coordinator and early childhood summer unit head at the Bernard Horwich Jewish Community Center.

Lindsay Maldonado

B.A., Northeastern Illinois University
M.S., Erikson Institute
Interest areas: Informal/free-choice learning and environmental education
Dissertation title:

Lindsay is currently the director of audience research and evaluation at John G. Shedd Aquarium. She has served as adjunct faculty in the Child Development department of the Chicago City Colleges.

Kandace Thomas

B.A., Wesleyan University
M.P.P., The University of Chicago
Interest areas: Trauma-informed services and systems; infant mental health; diversity-informed practice; and social policy and systems impact on families
Dissertation title: N/A

Kandace is a program officer at the Irving Harris Foundation, working to integrate infant mental health and trauma-informed services into systems that serve young children. Kandace was central to the creation of the Diversity-Informed Infant Mental Health Tenets, 10 guiding principles outlining standards of practice in the infant mental health field. Kandace is cofounder of Camp Sojourner, Girls’ Leadership Camp, and her other experiences include policy and program development work on behalf of under-resourced families and communities.

Emma Whitman

B.A., Wellesley College
M.S., Bank Street College of Education
Interest areas: Curriculum and instruction in the early childhood classroom, early mathematics education, teacher’s language, teacher development and training
Dissertation title: Teacher Mathematics Language: Its Use in the Early Childhood Classroom and Relationship with Young Children’s Learning

Emma is currently the director of early childhood education at a school in New Orleans. Her previous experiences include several years teaching and leading in early childhood programs, working as a researcher for the Early Math Collaborative at Erikson Institute, and providing educational seminars for educators and parents on a variety of topics related to the development of the young child.

Yinna Zhang

B.S., Tsinghua University
M.S., Beijing Normal University
Interest areas: Program evaluation, nature and development of content knowledge for teaching and teacher education
Dissertation title: N/A

Yinna is fascinated with how human beings acquire knowledge and interested in conducting applied research in child development and education. She moved to Chicago in 2009 to pursue her doctorate at Erikson Institute. As an Erikson student, Yinna works with the Early Math Collaborative on a project that provides professional development trainings to pre-kindergarten to 3rd grade teachers. In her spare time, Yinna enjoys jogging, traveling, reading, and cooking.

Students Not Listed Above

Dana Keiser
Ilona Helin
Jessica Thomas
Mariel Sparr