February 6, 2024

CCFP Community Spotlight: Q&A with Ann Skinner

Ann Skinner is a research scientist working with CCFP and C-StARR. She has been with CCFP for just over 22 years, working for much of that time on Parenting Across Cultures. Recently, her research has been aimed at understanding the impact of COVID-19 on families around the world and how families cope when exposed to other community stressors like violence and war.

Learn more about Ann's work in our CCFP Community Spotlight below. 

What were you doing prior to CCFP?

For about nine years before I came to Duke I worked as a special education teacher and supervisor for students with behavioral and learning challenges. I worked in the Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools for a bit, but most of those years were with a residential wilderness program for youth with court involvement in Rhode Island and North Carolina.  I also helped facilitate re-entry of those students back into their home school districts. 

What have you spent most of your time on recently, in terms of research?  

I am honored to be working on a new project collecting data in Ukraine. Along with a wonderful colleague in Lviv and her team across Ukraine, we are collecting data from adolescents, young adults, and their parents. We have connected with five universities throughout the country to examine both risk and protective factors in their lives, including their individual experiences, their family relationships, and the larger community stressors stemming from their war experiences, which vary across the country. In just two months, over 1,500 young people and many of their parents across Ukraine have joined the study and completed the survey. We have also received hair samples from youth so that a future project can examine biological stress markers, which in turn are linked with many health outcomes. One interesting thing about the survey we are using is that we capture a lot of young people’s experiences not just with anxiety, moral injury, and PTSD, but about the strategies they are using to cope, their feelings of hope and optimism, and whether they feel they are experiencing post-traumatic growth. 

My hope is that this project can inform recovery efforts in Ukraine and other places where traumatic experiences have impacted individual safety, adolescent and young adult development, and relationships. 

What do you consider your greatest recent accomplishment while working at CCFP? Or, what are you most proud of in terms of your work and research at CCFP?  

I love being able to build new international relationships with researchers around the world. Working with people in my field, who view development and adjustment through different cultural lenses is such an important part of what motivates the work I do. I have been fortunate to be part of a few fellowships and small projects that have allowed me to meet researchers in many countries and work with them to collect new data, or analyze existing data through a new framework. 

What do you enjoy most about working at CCFP?  

One of the things I love about CCFP is that I have a lot of people I can talk to with different areas of expertise and experience. It is hard to find a truly collegial community and such diverse talents who are willing to talk through challenges with you. 

What was your first-ever job?  

My first official job was working in our local library during high school. I would go to work after track practice and shelve books until the library closed.  For a long time, my resume read: “Job title:  Shelver.  Job duties: Shelved books." I’m glad to be doing something a lot more exciting these days!     

What’s your favorite book?  

It’s hard to pick a favorite book, but I recently (and finally!) read The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and stayed up far too late to finish it. The writing and the storyline were so compelling. 

What’s something that most people probably don’t know about you?  

While I was an undergraduate, I worked as a server at a colonial tavern in Williamsburg, VA, complete with 18th-century costume. During my senior year, a group of us were hired to be in a commercial to advertise Colonial Williamsburg, but I never got to see if our scenes ever made it to television.