2021 Sandra G. Wiener Student Investigator Award, Mariann A. Howland

Mariann Howland, M.A. (she/her/hers)
Doctoral Student | Developmental Psychopathology and Clinical Science
National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, University of Minnesota Institute of Child Development

Criteria for Mariann Howland’s selection as the 2021 Sandra G. Wiener Student Investigator Award:

The nomination was made by her academic advisor, Professor Megan Gunnar who referenced the following noteworthy accomplishment for Mariann’s nomination:

“Mariann A. Howland is in her 4th year in the Developmental Psychopathology and Clinical Science Ph.D. program. She is essentially on her way to completing two Ph.D.’s, one in developmental psychology and one in child clinical psychology at the University of Minnesota, Institute of Child Development.

  • Her h-index is already 9 in google scholar.
  • She has 13 peer reviewed papers (6 first-authored) and one chapter on her CV.
  • She has been very active in ISDP, attending and presenting each year since 2018.

“In part, she is already so well published because she did 5 post-bac years working at the Conte Center at UC Irvine with Tallie Baram, Curt Sandman, and Laura Glynn. Most of her papers are from that time and she continues to collaborate with that group. Not surprisingly, her primary interest is in the prenatal period. As you know, this is not where my research focus is. Hence, she is operating quite independently. She is able to do this successfully because she was awarded an NSF Graduate School Fellowship that started in her 2nd year of graduate school. Mariann’s interests are two-fold, and both foci concern the pregnant woman. First, she is interested in whether pregnancy is a sensitive period for brain organization that can cut both ways, both as a period of risk when traumatic experiences can increase risk of poor maternal physical and mental health and as a time with interventions to support improvements in mental health and well-being might have the large effects. [See this paper that she co-wrote: Glynn, Howland & Fox, (2018) Maternal programming: Application of a developmental psychopathology perspective. Development and Psychopathology, 30, 905-919] Second, she is interested in studying psychiatric symptoms dimensionally in pregnant women. She is launching a study of over hundred pregnant women with 3 aims:

  • Aim 1: To test the hypothesis that perinatal mania and psychosis exist on continua and are more prevalent during the early postpartum period as compared to pregnancy.
  • Aim 2: To test the hypothesis that postpartum mania and psychosis are more strongly linked with hormonal and immune measures than depression and anxiety.
  • Aim 3: To test the hypothesis that perinatal symptoms of mania and psychosis explain unique variance in mother-infant bonding. This will be her dissertation study, and will be conducted remotely. It will involve both hair and salivary cortisol and blood spots for cytokine collection, the latter analyzed by Thom McDade.

Needless to say, Mariann is doing extremely well in our program. In addition to coursework, she has just completed our teaching seminar and has taught a section of Introduction to Child Psychology. She is busy with both research and clinical practica. With all that, she is also active in service work within and outside of the University.”



Mariann Howland is a National Science Foundation Graduate Fellow pursuing a Ph.D. in developmental and clinical psychology in the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota. She earned a bachelor’s degree in Psychology as a President’s Scholar at California State University, Fullerton (CSUF) and then went on to complete five years of post-bac research in an NIMH Conte Center at University of California, Irvine, under the mentorship of Drs. Curt Sandman and Laura Glynn. As a doctoral student, Mariann is involved in research with her primary advisor, Dr. Megan Gunnar, as well as collaborators at the University of Minnesota, University of California, Irvine, and Johns Hopkins University. Mariann’s program of research is centered on risk and resilience during the perinatal period (pregnancy and the first postpartum year), a sensitive window of development that has important implications for the long-term health and well-being of women and their children. One line of her research investigates how women’s early life and current experiences of stress and adversity interact to impact the transition to motherhood. The ultimate aim of this work is to understand if pregnancy is a window of opportunity during which interventions for women who have experienced adversity may be particularly effective. Another line of her research aims to improve understanding of the prevalence, consequences, and underlying mechanisms of perinatal mental health symptoms, including symptoms that have been relatively neglected in research and clinical practice. This work includes investigation into pathways by which prenatal maternal mental health impacts fetal development and postnatal mother-infant outcomes. The long-term goal of this research is to improve identification of women and infants at risk and to optimize treatment strategies for perinatal mental health.