Heather Adams, PhD

Assistant Professor

office NQ079

office hours TB and by appointment

I was drawn into the field of lifespan development through my interest in a small subset of the area - identity development. I conducted my master's thesis exploring how Native American gay, lesbian, bisexual and two-spirit people develop their sense of ethnic identity and sexual orientation identity. In this project I worked with both the Cass Model of Homosexual Identity Development and the Cross Model of Nigrescence. Realizing that it is almost impossible to get funding, etc as a Euro-American interested in conducting research with Native Americans, I moved into less researched area, the development of chronic illness identities. This is where I continue to work, applying qualitative methods to develop the first model of women's chronic illness identity development. Although not particularly interested in lifespan development in undergrad, I have since become entranced by the field and a firm proponent that it should be considered in every and all topics of inquiry in psychology. Perhaps it fits with my contextualist tendencies, in that what is happening now is always dependent on what has come before and sets the stage for possible futures.

Although not specifically related to my current area of research, I find the question of how our brains develop both fascinating and confounding. Our growing understanding of how the brain develops, with such sparse templates of information at birth and in the genetic code, is amazing story of increasingly complex soft assemblage. I find the theories of dynamic systems theory and connectionism especially frustrating and rewarding and intriguing.