A researcher in Florida State University’s College of Social Work is being recognized by the National Institutes of Health with a KL2 Mentored Career Development Award, aimed at helping emerging researchers in patient-oriented research.
Kristy Anderson, assistant professor of social work, focuses her research on social policies and financial security of children and adults on the autism spectrum. The KL2 award will help her focus on research that translates directly toward practical applications.
“My research until now has been on the disparity in access to social programs designed to help children and adults with autism,” she said. “I realized that the next step in my research is in implementing clinical interventions.”
The award will help Anderson take that step.
According to the NIH, the KL2 Mentored Career Development Award combines “didactic training, mentoring, exposure to multidisciplinary research, and ongoing evaluation to prepare young investigators for careers in patient-oriented research (POR). The award serves as a bridge by which young junior faculty can achieve research independence.”
The award runs for two years and will cover 75% of Anderson’s salary and provide other financial support. One of the big benefits the award provides, Anderson said, is that it frees her up to pursue new research.
Anderson’s work will help her develop and test the feasibility of an online social needs screening and referral tool for underserved families of children with autism and make adjustments based on this feedback.
Her work will incorporate the online Baby Navigator platform, developed at the FSU College of Medicine’s Autism Institute. Baby Navigator offers parents access to online resources to inform and gauge early childhood development and information on early signs of autism. Thanks to the award, Anderson will be able to work directly with renowned autism researcher Amy Weatherby, distinguished research professor and director of FSU’s Autism Institute.
About one in four families with children with autism are living in poverty. Anderson said part of her goal is to bridge the information gap so that these families have the information they need to access resources crucial to their child’s development.
“No researcher is going to be knowledgeable about everything,” she said. “The KL2 is helping me to carry my research forward and make an impact on autistic families and communities.”