Sharon Ramey

Sharon Ramey, PhD

Professor and Distinguished Research Scholar, Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute

Research Professor, Department of Psychology, Virginia Tech

Professor of Psychiatry, Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine

Research Program Summary

My research addresses three major areas of human development: (1) the contribution of early experience, starting even prior to conception and extending through the prenatal and early postnatal periods, to later health, social-emotional, and intellectual development (including the fields of behavioral teratology and early intervention research); (2) the development and testing of highly promising treatments for children with disabilities and at-risk conditions; and (3) how to improve the provision of health, education, and social services and strengthen natural community supports, to benefit children and families—the intersection between the new field of implementation science and public policy/public opinion.

I also have a longstanding interest in improving the rigor of social science tools; one area in which I have developed new tools concerns obtaining reliable and valid reports of young children’s subjective appraisals of their families, their schools, and their peers. I am interested in how these personal experiences (phenomenology) change over time and influence multiple decisions, behavior, and health (physical, mental, and social).

My current areas of funded research include: (i) interventions and statewide pre-kindergarten programs to improve teacher and child caregiver effectiveness in increasing young children’s school success; (ii) the role of maternal stress in altering maternal allostatic load, pregnancy outcome, and child outcomes, particularly among low-income, minority populations; (iii) strategies to reduce maternal, paternal, and child health disparities; (iv) pediatric neuromotor interventions for children with cerebral palsy; and (v) innovative, cross-study, longitudinal data analyses to identify common principles of human development as moderated by age, gender, context, and the availability of “responsive, individualized, and stimulating care and education.”

In addition, I am part of the multidisciplinary team at the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute that has launched the Roanoke Brain Study under the direction of Dr. Read Montague. The Roanoke Brain Study is elucidating decision-making across the life course—childhood through old age, including exploring inter-generational influences and dynamic relationships among life experiences, health, education, income, and individual biological differences (using an epigenetics systems framework).

A brochure for the Virginia Tech Carilion Research Institute Neuromotor Research Clinic that I direct, along with Dr. Stephanie DeLuca, is available here.

For a full listing of Dr. Ramey's publications, visit PubMed.

Education and Training

  • University of Washington Seattle: Postdoctoral fellowship
  • University of Washington Seattle: Ph.D.

Previous Positions

  • Georgetown University, 2002–2011 Susan H. Mayer Professor of Child and Family Studies, School of Nursing and Health Studies Professor of Psychiatry, School of Medicine Director, Center on Health and Education Director, The Science of Effective Early Childhood Education Program

Awards and Honors

  • Timeless Award, College of Arts and Sciences, University of Washington, 2012
  • Research Achievement Award, Georgetown University Medical Center, 2008
  • University of Washington Distinguished Alumna Award, Natural Sciences, 2007
  • Distinguished Research Contributions to Public Policy, Society for Research in Child Development, 2007
  • National Award for Contributions to the Field of Early Literacy, Scholastic Education and WETA, 2006
  • Children’s Advocate Award, Individual Professional Contributions, 2002
  • Howell Heflin Award for Statesmanship and Contributions in World Health and Education, 2000
  • Gold Award, National Parenting Publications Awards, Right from birth: Building your child’s foundation for life, 1999
  • Gold Award, National Parenting Publication Awards, Going to school: How to help your child succeed, 1999
  • American Association on Mental Retardation Research Award, 1999
  • Award of Excellence for Highest Achievement in Research in the Field of Developmental Disabilities, National Association of Public Services, 1987
  • NICHD Research Career Development Award, 1980–1985

Selected Publications

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