Djokovic Science and Innovation Fellows

The Djokovic Science and Innovation Fellowship supports the dissertation research of Harvard University doctoral students whose independent research aligns with the mission of the Center, which is to drive science-based innovation that achieves breakthrough outcomes for children facing adversity. Learn more about the Djokovic Fellows and their research interests:

Dual logo of Novak Djokovic Foundation and Center on the Developing Child
Djokovic Science and Innovation Fellowship logo

2018-2019 Djokovic Fellows

The 2018-2019 Djokovic Fellows with Center Director Jack P. Shonkoff.

April Boin Choi is a doctoral candidate in Human Development, Learning, and Teaching at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences and the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research interests lie in investigating neural and behavioral development in infants at risk for autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and early interventions that can promote positive long-term outcomes in children with or at risk for ASD. April received a B.A. in Biological Sciences from Cornell University, and an Ed.M. in Mind, Brain, and Education from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her mentor will be Center-affiliated faculty member Charles A. Nelson III, Professor of Pediatrics and Neuroscience, Professor of Psychology in Psychiatry, Harvard Medical School; Professor of Education, Harvard University; Richard David Scott Chair in Pediatric Developmental Medicine Research, Boston Children’s Hospital.

Scott Delaney is a doctoral candidate in Social and Behavioral Sciences at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. His research investigates the social determinants of health and child development with an emphasis on neurodevelopmental and behavioral outcomes. His research aims to identify risk and protective factors that can be leveraged directly through innovative public health policy and programming to support children and families facing adversity. Scott received his B.S. in Finance at the University of Illinois College of Business, his J.D. from the University of Illinois College of Law. He also earned a M.P.H. from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. His mentor will be Center-affiliated faculty member Laura Kubzansky, Lee Kum Kee Professor of Social and Behavioral Sciences; Co-Director, Lee Kum Sheung Center for Health and Happiness, at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Read an interview with Scott by ATP World Tour.

Zhihui Li is a doctoral candidate in the Department of Global Health and Population at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Zhihui’s dissertation investigates the impact of prenatal exposure to sand-dust on fetal and child health and development. Sand and dust storms (SDS) are a worldwide phenomenon affecting roughly two billion people living in the Middle East, Central and South Asia, Central and North Africa, and Australia. Her research aims to understand the mechanisms of how SDSs affect child health, so that interventions can be designed and implemented to mitigate the negative effects. Zhihui received dual Bachelor of Economics and Bachelor of Engineering Degrees from Peking University, along with a M.S. in Global Health and Population from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Her mentor will be Jessica Cohen, Associate Professor of Global Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health.

Photo of April Boin Choi by Mark Wilson Images

2017-2018 Djokovic Fellows

The 2017-2018 Djokovic Fellows with Center Director Jack P. Shonkoff
The 2017-2018 Djokovic Fellows with Center Director Jack P. Shonkoff


Sonia Alves headshotSonia Alves is a doctoral candidate in the Human Development and Education program at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her research examines the longitudinal associations of adverse experiences, specifically of childhood community violence exposure on children’s academic trajectories. Sonia’s research aims to gain a deeper understanding of the underlying mechanisms and protective factors that can drive the strategic targeting of interventions to help youth manage their exposure to trauma, resulting in better outcomes overall. Sonia holds a B.A. in Psychology and Education & Child Study from Smith College. She expects to receive an Ed.M. in Prevention Science and Practice, Adolescent Counseling, from the Harvard Graduate School of Education in May 2017. Her mentor will be Center-affiliated faculty member Stephanie M. Jones, Marie and Max Kargman Professor in Human Development and Urban Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Read Sonia’s blog post: Childhood Community Violence Exposure.

Read an interview with Sonia Alves

Joshua Jeong headshotJoshua Jeong is a doctoral candidate in Global Health and Population at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. His research seeks to understand how fathers’ parenting practices and paternal roles within families relate to children’s early development outcomes in low- and middle-income countries. His research aims to inform programs and policies that support both mothers and fathers and strengthen families for promoting early childhood development. Joshua holds a B.S. in Human Development and Psychology from Cornell University, and an M.P.H. in Global Health and Population from the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. His mentor will be Aisha Yousafzai, Associate Professor of Global Health at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Read Joshua’s blog post: Engaging Fathers in Parenting Interventions in Low- and Middle-Income Countries.

Read an interview with Joshua Jeong

Rebecca Lebowitz headshotRebecca Lebowitz is a doctoral candidate in the Human Development and Education department at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Rebecca’s research explores instructional coaching in early childhood education, particularly the development of adult capabilities through professional development, and the impact of such programs on caregiver and student outcomes. Her dissertation seeks to identify best practices in instructional coaching, and investigate the extent to which an instructional coach builds relationships with early childhood educators to facilitate adult learning. Rebecca seeks to identify innovative intervention strategies to enhance early childhood caregiving and integrate the findings to design effective professional learning interventions for early educators. She hopes to conduct and apply research with early childhood practitioners in order to promote system-level improvements in early childhood outcomes. Rebecca holds an A.B. in Urban Studies and Hispanic Studies from Brown University, and an Ed.M. in Education, Language and Literacy from the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Her mentor will be Center-affiliated faculty member Dana Charles McCoy, Assistant Professor of Education at the Harvard Graduate School of Education. Read Rebecca’s blog post: Moving Forward with Instructional Coaching in Early Childhood.

Read an interview with Rebecca Lebowitz

Linda Zhao headshotLinda Zhao is a doctoral candidate in sociology at the Harvard Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Linda’s research explores inequality in birth outcomes, including time-sensitive pathways that precede preterm birth, connecting individual risk factors, social environment, and biological indicators of preterm birth. Her research seeks to determine the extent to which neighborhoods are indicators or causes of low birth weight, and whether different neighborhood contexts might increase or diminish certain types of individual risk. Her research will further investigate whether different social risks translate to different types of pregnancy abnormalities leading up to preterm birth, helping to translate knowledge between sociology and clinical medicine. Her novel approach may help guide policymakers on specific actions or interventions to improve child health. Linda holds a B.A. in Economics from Princeton University, and expects to receive an A.M. in Statistics from Harvard University in 2017, while simultaneously pursuing her Ph.D. Her mentor will be Jason Beckfield, Professor in the Department of Sociology at Harvard University.

Read an interview with Linda Zhao

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