In fall 2016, CFRC launched a University of Illinois campuswide Adverse Childhood Experiences brownbag. We talk to CFRC researcher Michael Braun about this effort.
Q: What prompted you to start the brownbag?
Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) is an area of study that unites all kinds of fields. Here on campus, we have people looking at administrative data records for children taken into care after reports of maltreatment, and we also have people studying genetic changes caused by childhood trauma. We have researchers focused on clinical treatment of trauma along with others looking at food insecurity as part of agricultural research. It seemed like some fruitful partnerships could come from bringing all these perspectives together. I also wanted a setting where experts would come and help educate people like me who want to learn more about the topic.
Q: What kinds of presentations have you had so far?
We started with Professor Dr.
in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies here at U of I. She talked about her extensive research with street-involved youth in Brazil, basically children who grow up living on the street and outside the purview of traditional societal institutions. We also heard from a post-doctoral researcher in Special Education, Dr.
. She spoke about her work with community service providers and their role in creating supportive classrooms for children who have experienced trauma. Our most recent two presentations came from Psychology. Assistant Professor Dr.
talked about his efforts to expand the usefulness of screening for trauma, and senior graduate student
talked about her work with Associate Professor Dr.
on epigenetics and trauma.
I can't thank the presenters enough. They have helped the event grow in size and drive interest in people returning each month. Our audiences have been great too, with lots of questions.
Q: If someone wants to learn more about ACEs, what would you recommend they read?
Depending on the level of knowledge they want, I might start with an article in the
. There was a great article published in 2011 about a doctor looking at the link between childhood stress and adult health:
The Poverty Clinic
by Paul Tough. There was also an article about epigenetics published in 2016 called
Same But Different
by Siddhartha Mukherjee. The CDC also has a
with info and references that I'd recommend checking out. And if anyone wants more info from our brownbag, they should
and I will add them to our mailing list.
Q: What's next up for the brownbag?
We continue to meet on the third Thursday of every month at 8:30 AM in Lincoln Hall room 1066. Presentations last about an hour, and I hope anyone interested can come. We will meet four more times this semester (February through May) and then probably take a break for the summer. I'm always looking for presenters, so if anyone is interested--especially anyone from the community--please let me know. Hopefully when we return for our second year in the fall of 2017, we can have an even bigger group and start thinking about collaborative research projects. With the knowledge available on this campus, I think we can make a difference in the lives of children and those who experienced trauma in childhood. When researchers get outside of their disciplines and start thinking about real world problems, great things happen!