Eunkyung “Lucy” Shin was born and raised in South Korea. She moved to the United States in 2015 to pursue a doctorate in human development at Virginia Tech with a specialty in the child and adolescent development program. She graduated with her Ph.D. in May 2020.

Her dissertation was a cross-cultural study exploring children’s bystander and defender behaviors in bullying in the United States and South Korea. Cindy Smith, a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Science, served as her dissertation committee chair.

Shin began a position as a postdoctoral associate at the Fralin Biomedical Research Center at VTC in July 2020. Her research there focuses on the parent-child relationship and child development. Her ultimate goal is to translate research into practical strategies and policies for the healthy development of children and families.

How has your doctoral program helped you?
Community solidarity was one of the highlights of my Ph.D. program. Looking back at my journey in graduate school, I couldn’t have finished it without my peers, my advisor, and the human development and family science community. Luckily, I had supportive peers and an advisor who always encouraged me in my academic career. I have been inspired by and learned a lot from them.

How did you arrive at your current position, and what are your more immediate goals?
I saw the job posting and my advisor, Cindy Smith, encouraged me to apply for the position. My current goal aligns with the aim of our lab: supporting mother-infant health outcomes through research on maternal influences on infants’ brain and behavioral development.

What is your current position like?
I’m a postdoctoral research associate in the Howell MIND Lab at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at VTC. Our lab is dedicated to improving mother-infant health outcomes for our community by exploring the factors that influence healthy infant brain and behavioral development. We are trying to help families in our community through scientific research.

What is the best part about your job?
I enjoy working with collaborators from diverse fields and am learning a lot from them. Our group also strives to make a positive impact on the community through research. Active engagement in the community is another motivating factor for me to study.

How did Virginia Tech prepare you for your career?
Thankfully, I have experience in both research and teaching. I’ve developed skillsets that can be transferred into research through working with supportive faculty and peers in the Department of Human Development and Family Science and had opportunities to teach in person and online. These diverse experiences help me advance my career.

What advice do you have for current graduate students in the Department of Human Development and Family Science?
I would like to say that you all are doing a great job. It can be overwhelming to think about the entire task of earning a degree. I’ve tried to focus on and take one small step at a time. Pick one plan, one goal, or one idea. And get started. Just take one small step.

Sharing emotions with supportive ones also helped me to deal with challenges during the program. People will always be there for you if you express your worries and feelings, so reach out to people around you when you need help.

Interview by Krista Hein