New Faculty Focus: Margaret Kerr

October 24, 2017

Title:  Assistant Professor, Department of Human Development & Family Studies, School of Human Ecology

Hometown:  South Lyon, Michigan

Professional background:  I had a wide variety of positions prior to attending graduate school, which included working as a Sales & Marketing Director for a small consulting firm in Los Angeles and working as a Clinical Research Coordinator in the pharmaceutical industry. While in graduate school I worked as a statistics consultant and an adjunct lecturer teaching human development and research methodology courses.

Margaret Kerr

Educational background: B.S. in Psychology from Michigan State University in 2005; Ph.D. in Positive Developmental Psychology from Claremont Graduate University in 2017.

How did you get into your field of research? When in graduate school, I noticed that the majority of literature on parent-child relationships focused on how parents’ behavior affects children’s development. I realized there was a gap in the literature around understanding parents’ emotional experiences. I believe it is important to better understand the factors that impact parents’ experiences and to develop interventions focused on helping people become better and happier parents.

What attracted you to UW–Madison?  I was attracted to this position because of the dedication this university has to making a difference in the community. I have an integrated position with Cooperative Extension, and the opportunity to make an impact in the lives of parents and children while still pursuing my research interests made UW–Madison a great fit for me.

What was your first visit to campus like?  My first visit to campus was during my interview last December. It was a short and very busy trip, but I fell in love with the campus and community. I ate cheese curds for the first time and immediately knew I’d love living in Wisconsin.

Favorite place on campus?  I love the view of Lake Mendota that you can enjoy from Memorial Union Terrace.

What are you most enjoying so far about working here?  I have really enjoyed getting to know the people in my department.  Everyone has been so welcoming and I appreciate the extent to which this university is committed to supporting junior faculty.

Do you feel your work relates in any way to the Wisconsin Idea? If so, please describe how.  My work with Cooperative Extension will involve helping design and implement programming that helps parents and children across the whole state of Wisconsin.  I will be partnering with county educators to find ways to best meet the needs of the families in their communities.

What’s something interesting about your area of expertise you can share that will make us sound smarter at parties?  Despite the common notion in popular media that becoming a parent makes you less happy, more recent research shows that parents report more positive emotions than non-parents, especially when caring for their children.

Hobbies/other interests:  I love animals! I have two dogs and love to spend time with them. I also enjoy horseback riding and haven’t done it in a while but hope to get back into that once I get settled here in Madison.