Jessica V. Barnes-Najor

Jessica V. Barnes-Najor

Associate Director, Community Evaluation and Research Collaborative
Adjunct Faculty, Department of Psychology

Jessica V. Barnes-Najor, Ph.D. is an associate director for University-Community Partnerships in University Outreach and Engagement at Michigan State University. She is a developmental psychologist with a specialization in applied developmental science. Her work focuses on establishing research partnerships and identifying supports for increasing community capacity for engaging in research. Dr. Barnes-Najor is a co-PI for the Tribal Early Childhood Research Center (TRC), partnering with tribal Head Start, Home Visitation, and Child Care grantees to promote community-engaged research and enhance early childhood program evaluation and research-to-practice activities across the nation. She is also a co-PI of Wiba Anung, a research collaborative including educators from Bay Mills Community College and tribal members representing nine Michigan tribes. Through Wiba Anung, Dr. Barnes-Najor has developed approaches for conducting culturally sensitive research in collaboration with AI/AN Head Start/Early Head Start. She has established a research program with the AI/AN Head Start/Early Head Start centers in Michigan that includes the use of methodology to assess child outcomes, family characteristics, and classroom quality. Dr. Barnes-Najor was also involved in the development of and training for a framework for incorporating Native language and culture into evidence-based curricula for Tribal Head Start programs ("Making it Work!"). She extended this work by supporting a Home Visitation grantee’s efforts to build a home visiting curriculum using the "Making it Work!" framework.


Research interests

  • Social, emotional, and cognitive development in preschool aged children
  • Programs that promote positive development for children from diverse backgrounds
  • Research partnerships with American Indian/Alaska Native early childhood programs
  • Integrating community based participatory research with systems modeling
  • Contextual models of human development


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