ICIS Founding Generation Summer
Fellowship for Undergraduates

Supporting the next generation of infant studies scholars

A core goal of ICIS is to mentor future leaders of the field of infancy. The Founding Generation Summer Fellowship for Undergraduates aims to develop the next generation of scholars to advance innovative research on infancy and translation of research for the public good.

The field of infant research is critical to understanding human development and the application of research findings to education, health, and policy worldwide. This kind of research and outreach requires the participation of individuals from a wide range of backgrounds. Unfortunately, that breadth of representation is lacking.

To address the urgent need of broadening the representation of students, ICIS has created paid summer fellowships.  We encourage all interested students to apply, especially those from under-represented and under-resourced backgrounds. 

The program pairs promising students with researchers from around the world who conduct cutting-edge science. Identified mentors will work with students over an intensive 8-week period. Students receive financial support (up to US$4,000) to enable them to meet with mentors, participate in lab meetings, work with staff and pre- and postdoctoral students, and build critical skills through hands-on training in research methods. Upon completion of the fellowship, students present their work at a dedicated virtual symposium, and are encouraged to submit their work at the 2024 Congress to be held in Glasgow, Scotland (they may apply for travel support).

Recognizing the Founding Generation

This initiative builds on prior ICIS programs, recognizes ICIS forebears, and honors the contributions of key figures in the Congress’s establishment.  The brief history of ICIS (below) describes the individuals who inspired the creation of the Founding Generation program.

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The Founding Generation Summer Internship Program was established to recognize the contributions of past scholars of infancy studies by supporting the next generation of researchers in infancy. The origins of ICIS, which was known as ISIS (International Society on Infant Studies) from its inception until 2015, can be traced to an informal, interdisciplinary group of 30-50 researchers (the Correspondents on Research on Infants or CRI) that included Psychologists, Pediatricians, Psychiatrists, and Neurologists. CRI members—representing nearly all the major infancy researchers at the time—began to meet in the early 1960s to share their work on infant development. A sub-group of CRIers met monthly in New York and New Jersey, including Marc H. Bornstein, Nathan Fox, Judy Gardner, Bernie Karmel, Michael Lewis, David Lewkowicz, William Fifer, Susan Rose, Holly Ruff, and Gerry Turkewitz. Others who often often visited the group included Joe Fagan, Robert Fantz, Marshall Haith, Bill Kessen, Marian Sigman, and Daniel Stern.

At the time, advances in medicine and increased numbers of premature and sick infants surviving pregnancy and childbirth led to an explosion of infant research. The rapid expansion in infant research highlighted the need to establish an independent venue for CRI members to share their theoretical work and empirical research.

As a result, the first International Conference on Infant Development was organized in Providence, Rhode Island in 1978, under the leadership of Lewis Lipsitt. (Notably, Lewis set the stage for ICIS meetings to have an element of fun mixed in with serious science by inviting a professional yo-yo master to teach researchers how to use a yo-yo!) For several years, the larger ICIS conference followed CRI meetings, being held in whichever city served as the designated CRI site. The local CRI researcher served as program chair and made all arrangements (including signing contracts for hotel “rack rates” and determining the location of the conference dinner). The broad appeal of the ICIS conference ensured its success: registration fees consistently exceeded costs, allowing the congress to consistently meet in the off-years of SRCD.

In addition to hosting the first ICIS conference in Providence, Lewis Lipsitt served as founding editor of Infant Behavior and Development (IBAD), which grew further under the vision of Carolyn Rovee-Collier during her 18-year tenure as editor. Lipsitt and Rovee-Collier also founded and co-edited the series Advances in Infancy Research, to which many original CRIers contributed.

Although ICIS members adopted IBAD as their unofficial journal, by the 1990’s the Society wanted a journal that it could independently control. In response, Esther Thelen (President of ICIS at the time), Rachel Keen (President-elect), Nathan Fox, and Marian Sigman negotiated with the assistance of Attorney Jeff Pasek the new journal Infancy with Lawrence Erlbaum in 2000. Leslie Cohen served as the first editor of ICIS’s flagship journal, followed by Richard Aslin, Martha Ann Bell, John Colombo, and Gavin Bremner as current Editor.

Committee Members

Martha Arterberry, Colby College

David Bridgett, Northern Illinois University

Kyle Chambers, Gustavus Adolphus College

Linda Cote-Reilly, Marymount University

Sam Putnam, Bowdoin College

Diane Wille, Indiana University Southeast

Ensuring the initiative future success

Through philanthropy we reaffirm our commitment to the future of our field. We invite you to ensure the success of the Founding Generation Summer Fellowship and celebrate our community by making a donation, via the Go Fund Me campaign. You may make a donation in recognition of an influential person who shaped your life and career.

In reflecting upon my career and the many intellectual threads that influenced my scholarship, I realized that my primary allegiance has consistently been aligned with ICIS.  It is the biennial meeting I always attend, the focus of my research on human development, and the set of colleagues with whom I unequivocally identify.  It was natural, therefore, when I was able to make a gift to a scientific organization, that I would direct my gift to ICIS.  I hope that others who feel the same way about ICIS as I do will consider adding their support to the Founding Generation Fund so that our discipline remains vibrant and relevant to the next generation of scholars.”  – Anonymous Donor

Visit our Application Page

Celebrating an outstanding 2021 cohort

In the summer of 2021, ICIS paired 8 undergraduate students with mentors.  Testimonials from mentors and students show that participants greatly valued their experience. Students highlighted many benefits of the program, including learning about developmental science, gaining a deep appreciation and knowledge of a specific area of infant research; acquiring skills, research tools and know how in behavioral coding, brain recordings, statistical analyses, and research dissemination.

The summer fellowships inspired, educated, and enabled students in a variety of ways. 

Fellows from 2021 reported that the experience gave them a greater awareness of infancy science, with experiences that were both broad and deep:

Thoughts from our Mentors

The intern I worked with is co-authoring posters to be presented at professional conferences, so she now has a 1st-hand look at the process of sharing science and how we get our findings out into the world.

Sarah Berger

College of Staten Island, City University of New York

Seeing how another babylab operates outside her home institution gave her a broader sense of the range of the field…I think the internship helped our student understand how big pictures get boiled down to concrete operationalizations of what you can ask of an infant
Elika Bergelson

Duke University

The intern gained great, first-hand experience about all that is involved in conducting an online word learning study. The intern was trained on, and became familiar with, our lab’s protocols for coding infants’ eye-gaze in recorded videos. These experiences helped the intern became aware about the importance of standardized methods for preparing and analyzing looking time data in a preferential looking paradigm.

Haykaz Mangardich

University of British Columbia

My student came into the program wanting to go to medical school to become a psychiatrist for young children. He wants to still pursue that goal but he is now interested in continuing with research and actively incorporating it into his practice/career.
Natalie H. Brito

New York University

I think that the summer internship increased Vanshika’s awareness about infancy science a lot. It gave her a chance to glimpse “behind the curtains” to understand different aspects of the scientific process.
Jessica Sommerville

University of Toronto

Over the course of the summer he discovered many of the challenges – and also the rewards – of infancy science. He had his first experience with behavioral coding of caregiver-child observations, and took to it like a fish to water. He developed an appreciation for the richness of these observations and, in the process, developed new questions about bilingual language development that he plans to pursue. I think his research interests have remained fairly consistent, but his questions are much sharper and his appreciation for how to answer those questions progressed immensely.
Adriana Weisleder

Northwestern University