Research & Biography

Sydney Hans is the Samuel Deutsch Professor and the Deputy Dean for Research and Faculty Development at the University of Chicago School of Social Service Administration. Her research seeks to understand how biological and social factors interact in contributing to risk and resilience in human development. She studies how experiences in early life, particularly the relationship between mother and infant, influence development at later ages. She has conducted studies focusing on the development of young children whose parents use illicit substances, suffer from major mental disorders, have experienced traumatic events, and/or live in conditions of extreme poverty. In much of her work she studies children and families through use of research methods involving recording of family interactions.

Professor Hans is particularly interested in using research to develop interventions and public policy that will benefit infants, young children, and their families. She currently is engaged in evaluating infant and early childhood home visiting programs in which community doulas provide childbirth education and support to adolescent mothers. In those studies they are examining the impacts of the intervention on health behaviors (such as breastfeeding and safe sleeping practices), children's behavioral development, and parent-child relationships. Professor Hans' research has been supported by a variety of private foundations and public agencies, including the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA), and the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA). 

Professor Hans teaches Human Behavior in the Social Environment, the introductory course in the family support program, and a doctoral courses in life course development theory. She currently serves as Deputy Dean for Research and Faculty Development.

Professor Hans graduated with a B.S. in Human Development and Family Studies from Cornell University and received her Ph.D. in Psychology and Social Relations from Harvard University. Prior to coming to SSA, she was on the faculty in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Chicago.  She currently is also an affiliated faculty member in the Department of Comparative Human Development.