Faculty Profile: Tuppett Yates

Tuppett Yates

Tuppett Yates

Associate Professor

College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences

E-mail: tuppett.yates@ucr.edu

Assistant Professor of Psychology Tuppett Yates wants to make a difference in the lives of young people. Whether they are students at UCR, hope to become students at UCR, or simply youths overcoming adversity in the world, they have Yates in their corner.

“Many of our students have faced their own challenges in their path to UCR and I am continually impressed by their tenacity and creativity,” she said. “I am reminded on a daily basis that development is an incredibly resilient process with a powerful undertow towards positive trajectories.”

Yates runs UCR’s Adversity and Adaptation Lab, which studies how children are affected by and negotiate difficult life experiences. Her research was kindled by her desire to work with at-risk populations, then stoked by a professor who shared his belief that she would excel in graduate school.

“A variety of life experiences converged to instill me with a keen sense of social injustice and a commitment to understanding and ameliorating its effects,” she said. “My good fortune to have high quality educational and mentoring experiences shaped the evolution of these raw materials into their present form in my research, practice, service and teaching.” Yates’ lab relies on the efforts of both undergraduate and graduate student researchers, and Yates says their contributions cannot be overestimated. “My students are the research in large measure,” she said. “They are involved at every level of the process. Their interests and ideas inform the study design, their hard work enables the studies to run, and their energy and enthusiasm fuel our cooperative learning and accomplishments.”

In exchange, the students gain unparalleled experience and opportunities to develop their professional and clinical skills; including working with families, and completing independent research projects that are presented at conferences. “I think each student comes to the lab wanting something unique and, by extension, each gains something different,” she said. “Which opportunities they choose to seize is very much up to them.”

As part of her efforts to assist at-risk youth, Yates is a strong supporter of the development of the UCR Guardian Scholars Program, which will raise funds to provide scholarships and support services for young people who have aged out of the foster care system as they pursue higher education opportunities.

The importance of the program becomes clear when one looks at the discrepancies between the educational outcomes of fostered and non-fostered youth. A 2003 study by Casey Family Programs revealed that nationally, 84% of youth finished high school, but only 45% of foster youth did so. Only 10% of fostered youth enroll in a college and university and just 1-2% graduate, compared to 60% and 27% for their non-fostered peers.

“The program draws on the strength of the UCR community to support this vulnerable, but uniquely valuable, student population,” she said. “It is not about stacking the deck in their favor or dealing them hand full of trump cards, it’s about getting them in the game in the first place, welcoming them to the table of higher education and connecting them to the resources in our campus and community that exist for all our students.”

“We are not inventing a wheel; we are just helping these youth find the steering column and the strength to engage their educational experience fully,” she said. “UCR is well-positioned to support fostered youth in their pursuit of higher education.”

Yates is jointly trained as both a clinical and developmental psychologist. She teaches undergraduate abnormal and clinical psychology and a signature graduate course in developmental psychopathology as well as a course in research methods. She said that her opportunity to teach and work with UCR’s students is one of the joys of her job.

“I love the students here,” she said. “I learn something each and every day in my teaching. My students are very generous to share their knowledge and experience with me and are exceptionally forgiving of my growing edges. In turn, they are appreciative of both my feistiness and my foibles, which makes teaching a spontaneous and collaborative process.”

“I respect and support the University’s mission and, in turn, I feel very much respected and supported by the University in my own mission,” she added. “I could not have dreamt up a better place to live and work. I truly feel the University wants its faculty and students to succeed and strives to provide an environment in which we can do that.”

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