DSU Faculty, Students to Present Research at International Conference 

Dixie State’s NiRD Lab accepted to present at Annual Congress of the World Association of Infant Mental Health

ST. GEORGE, Utah, April 8, 2016 — Dixie State University psychology and biology students and graduates are heading for Prague, Czech Republic, next month to present at the Annual Congress of the World Association of Infant Mental Health (WAIMH).

The students in the Neuroscience in Relationship Development (NiRD) Lab have conducted research on factors that promote empathic care of infants and toddlers and will present their research May 29 through June 2.

“This research is particularly important because children younger than 3 are abused by their caregivers at higher rates than older children,” said DSU Associate Professor of Psychology Dr. Dannelle Larsen-Rife, who serves as the NiRD faculty advisor. “The health and well-being of young children and their families in Utah is of primary importance to us.”

Adding to the significance of this research is the fact that 20 percent of infants and toddlers in Utah are maltreated, and 26 percent of Utah’s infants and toddlers are in foster care, Larsen-Rife said.

“Students in the NiRD Lab are eager to become professionals to work in prevention and intervention programs to help Utah’s youngest children and their families,” she said.

The NiRD Lab’s findings that will be presented at the Annual Congress of WAIMH are relevant to the organization, as it promotes education, research and study on how infants’ mental, emotional and social development affect their psychopathological development.

In addition to members of the NiRD Lab, luminaries in the infant mental health field from all over the world will teach courses at the event. Subject matters covered will include understanding the effects of trauma, the importance of the parent-child relationship, how to work with children who have been neglected or abused and how to promote healthy development.

“We are excited to have the opportunity to represent Dixie State University and Utah at this international conference alongside leaders in the field of infant mental health,” Lyndsey Craig, a DSU junior and member of the NiRD Lab, said.

Members of the NiRD Lab are in the process of raising funds to help cover the cost of registration and travel to attend the conference. Eleven members of the research lab are planning on attending and nearly $20,000 is needed to send them. The NiRD Lab will hold several fundraisers and is seeking contributions from local businesses and organizations to reach their goal. Donations can be made through contacting Larsen-Rife at 435-652-7823, or dlarsenrife@dixie.edu. Donations can also be made through the Dixie State University Development Office by visiting http://giving.dixie.edu, selecting “Other” and designating the NiRD Lab as the recipient.

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