My overarching scholarly goals, which are to generate knowledge and understanding of developmental change in perceptual, cognitive, and related neurobehavioral functions during human infancy and early childhood, and to use this knowledge to improve children’s health, well-being, and developmental potential. My work includes studies of normative development and also studies of the impacts of environmental factors that influence developmental processes and outcomes. The environmental factors I have focused on most are prenatal and early postnatal exposure to neurotoxins (lead, methylmercury, phthalates, and organophosphates) and nutrients (choline, DHA, iron, zinc).
My current research is now almost fully focused on understanding the effects of early nutritional interventions on infant and child neurobehavioral development. These activities are conducted with the support of three funded research projects that investigate the cognitive, affective, and/or neuroendocrine effects of (1) maternal choline supplementation on infant and child outcomes, (2) a randomized controlled feeding study examining the cognitive effects of iron and zinc biofortified pearl millet for 12-18 month old infants, and (3) novel, PUFA-enhanced ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTFs) for treating toddlers suffering from severe acute malnutrition (SAM). In each case, these studies utilize randomized control designs comparing an experimental supplement or food to a relevant usual standard of care.
I mostly teach students engaged in empirical research courses that involve projects for which I am Principal Investigator. My approach to teaching is to challenge students to learn behavioral science research methodology by their reading, discussing, and presenting original empirical research papers and by teaching them specific skills in research design, data collection, data analysis, and interpretation of evidence by participating in and contributing to ongoing research.
I advise 22 undergraduate majors studying either Nutritional Sciences or Human Biology Health and Society. My approach is student-centered, meaning that I take it as my responsibility to help the student come to a better understanding of which academic and professional options are best for them as an individual. I accomplish this through a sort of clinical-Socratic method that offers students a safe and nonjudgmental space in which they can explore and clarify how the the academic and professional choices they are considering coordinate with their personal characteristics, including their personality, proclivities, values, and aspirations.
NS4010 : Empirical Research in Nutritional Sciences
BIOG 2990 : Introduction to Research Methods in Biology
BIOG 4990 : Independent Undergraduate Research in Biology
Caudill, M. A., Strupp, B. J., Muscalu, L., Nevins, J. E., & Canfield, R. L. (2018). Maternal choline supplementation during the third trimester of pregnancy improves infant information processing speed: a randomized, double-blind, controlled feeding study. The FASEB Journal, 32(4), 2172-2180.
Mehta S, Finkelstein JL, Venkatramanan S, Huey SL, Udipi SA, Ghugre P, Ruth, C, Canfield, RL, Kurpad, AV, Potdar, RD, Haas, JD. (2017). Effect of iron and zinc-biofortified pearl millet consumption on growth and immune competence in children aged 12–18 months in India: study protocol for a randomised controlled trial. BMJ Open, 7(11).
Caserta, M.T., Hall, C.B., Canfield, R.L., Davidson, P., Lofthus, G., Schnabel, K., Carnahan, J., Shelley, L. and Wang, H., (2014). Early developmental outcomes of children with congenital HHV-6 infection. Pediatrics, 134(6), pp.1111-1118.
Engel SM, Wetmur J, Chen J, Zhu C, Barr DB, Canfield RL, Wolff MS. (2011). Prenatal exposure to organophosphates, paraoxonase 1, and cognitive development in childhood. Environmental Health Perspectives, 119,1182-1188.
Engel SM, Miodovnik A, Canfield RL, Zhu C, Silva MJ, Calafat AM, Wolff MS. (2010). Prenatal Phthalate Exposure is Associated with Childhood Behavior and Executive Functioning. Environmental Health Perspectives, 118, 565-571.
Reviewer for Pediatrics, Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), Environmental Health Perspectives, Neurotoxicology, Developmental Psychology
Study Section Member - Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI) Upstate New York Translational network (UNYTE) Pipeline Pilot Grant Program through the University of Rochester Medical Center
For nine years, I have served as a community volunteer for the Veterans Group of Auburn Prison (VGOA). This group of incarcerated military veterans serving long sentences at the Auburn, NY maximum security facility seek to leverage values learned as members of the active military (e.g., personal responsibility, group cohesion, self-discipline, community service) to serve their sentences with dignity and to make positive contributions to society while they are behind bars. It is the VGOA "Crochet Squad" that makes the most impressive and sustained contributions. For more than 20 years, this group has worked year-round crocheting children's hats, scarves, mittens, and dolls and donates them to community organizations that serve needy families. At their yearly Christmas Giveaway event they donate approximately 1000 matching hat-scarf bundles. Regularly throughout the year they make specialty items for hospitalized infants, including tiny hats and receiving blankets for premature infants in Intensive Care Units. In addition, they raise money from members doing paid work in the prison to donate funds to local food banks.
1980, B.Sc., Major: Psychology Minors: Mathematics, Literature, University of Puget Sound
1984, M.A., Developmental Psychology, University of Denver
1988, Ph.D. , Developmental Psychology, University of Denver