Family psychologist Emilie Paczkowski, PhD, of CenterPoint Health Services in Fredericksburg, Va., discovered her passion for research during graduate school, when she used a $6,000 APF Randy Gerson Memorial Grant to study what factors help parents manage the challenges of adopting a child from the foster care system. Her research showed that the foster care system and child welfare agencies need to do a better job of preparing and educating parents about the risks and realities of adoption from foster care in order to create more rewarding adoptive experiences for parents and children. That research carried lessons Paczkowski uses today to evaluate community programs for children and families.

"The Randy Gerson Memorial Grant has been an integral part of my development as a researcher," she says.

The Gerson grant supports graduate student projects in family or couple dynamics and multi-generational processes. Applications are due Feb. 1.