Mona El-Sheikh, Ph.D.
Leonard Peterson & Co., Inc. Professor
Ph.D., West Virginia University, 1989
(334) 844-3294 | 260 Spidle Hall
My research, which is supported by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the National Science Foundation (NSF), and the Alabama Agricultural Experiment Station (AAES), focuses on associations among socio-economic adversity, family risk and child/adolescent outcomes in psychological adjustment, physical health, sleep processes, cognitive functioning, and academic performance domains. Utilizing a developmental psychopathology approach, my research has focused on explicating the mechanisms and variables that can either exacerbate or attenuate risk and explain differential outcomes in youth exposed to familial and socio-economic adversity.
Collectively, my research has emphasized a biopsychosocial approach for the development of adjustment, social, cognitive, physical health, and sleep problems in the context of family risk, especially the role of physiological and biological regulation. Specifically, child/adolescent functioning is best predicted by examining interactions between the family environment and the individual. A recognized feature of my research is its multi- and inter-disciplinary nature, and its building of bridges across several disciplines concerned with child health including child development, developmental psychopathology, pediatric sleep medicine, and the study of multiple domains of biological and physiological regulation.
My research program focuses on examinations of children's physiological reactivity and regulation examined through sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system activity, but includes several physiological systems (hypothalamus-pituitary-adrenal (HPA)-axis), affective, behavioral, cognitive, and coping strategies, as pathways and moderators of associations between family risk and child/adolescent functioning cross-sectionally and longitudinally. My studies have addressed multiple familial risk factors for negative child and adolescent outcomes including parental alcoholism, parental depression, parent-child conflict, marital conflict and violence, insecure child-parent attachments, and disrupted parenting practices.
My work has expanded to include sleep regulation in adults, adolescents and children with an interest in (a) understanding sleep in the context of family functioning and the broader socio- cultural milieu (e.g., ethnicity, economic adversity); and (b) elucidating the role of sleep problems in connecting health disparities, family functioning and physiological reactivity and regulation with individuals’ well-being and development across multiple domains.