Faculty Directory

Jessica M. Black

Associate Professor

Chair, Children, Youth and Families Field of Practice

Profile

Jessica M. Black, PhD, is an Educational Neuroscientist and an Associate Professor at the Boston College School of Social Work (BCSSW). She obtained her doctorate in Educational Psychology from Stanford University School of Education and then completed a postdoctoral research fellowship in the Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research within the Stanford University School of Medicine.

Dr. Black’s research integrates the use of neuroimaging (functional and structural magnetic resonance imaging), standard neuropsychological behavioral testing and environmental measures, such as the home supports, to predict outcome in children with risk for school failure. Within this population, Dr. Black focuses primarily on children with diagnosis of or risk for learning disabilities, specifically developmental dyslexia. Keenly interested in childhood resilience, Dr. Black has extended her neuroimaging research to better understand the neural underpinnings of humor and the extent to which humor and positive emotion generally may contribute to resilience during pivotal transitions in the lives of youth.

Dr. Black has published in top research journals such as Nature Reviews NeuroscienceProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USA, and The Journal of Neuroscience. To learn more about Dr. Black’s publications and research please view her Google Scholar Citation Profile and Research Gate Profile. Dr. Black collaborates with The Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research, Stanford University School of Medicine, The Brain LENS Lab at the University of California, San Francisco, and The Gabrieli Lab at Massachusetts Institue of Technology

Dr. Black is also engaged in integrating neuroscience into social work research, education and training. She is the Chair of the Neuroscience in Social Work Special Interest Group (SIG) within the Society for Social Work and Research, and is the Chair of the inaugural Social Work and Neuroscience Intersections Symposium and Conference held at the Boston College School of Social Work in the fall of 2015. Dr. Black teaches SCWK7721 Human Behavior and the Social Environment, SCWK7726 Neuroscience of Human Relationships and Development, and SCWK7724Neurobiology of Stress and Resilience in the Life Course. Completion of these three courses leads to the Neuroscience and Social Work Certificate within the BCSSW.

In addition she is the faculty advisor to the BCSSW Social Brain Book Club and is working to integrate neuroscience research into several foundation courses within the BCSSW. Dr. Black is thrilled to be on the faculty within such an innovative and transformative environment and looks forward to continuing to provide social work students with education, training, and research opportunities in neuroscience.

Select Grants

Science for Seminaries Grant, AAAS Dialogue on Science, Ethics and Religion: Doyle (PI), Black (Co-I) Dates: 04/01/2021 – 10/30/2022 Neuroscience Education in Theology Training (NETT Project)

Academic Technology Innovation Grant (ATIG), Boston College: Black (PI), Bradley (Co-I) Dates: 06/01/2020 – 5/31/2022 Online Classroom Enhancement Project (OCEP)

Teaching and Mentoring Award (TAM), Boston College: Black (PI) Dates: 06/01/2020 – 5/31/2021 Educational Neuroscience Toolbox for Higher Education

Faculty Research Expense Grant (REG), Boston College: Black (PI)
Dates: 06/01/2016 – 5/31/2017
Biomarkers in Adolescent Development and Resilience

Ignite Grant, Boston College: Black (PI)
Dates: 06/01/2014 – 5/31/2015
Using a Biopsychosocial Lens to Examine Risk and Protective Processes in Students with
Learning Disabilities

Teaching and Mentoring Award (TAM), Boston College: Black (PI)
Dates: 06/01/2012 – 5/31/2014
Integrating Neurobiological Perspectives on Development into Social Work Teaching and Mentoring

Faculty Research Incentive Grant (RIG), Boston College: Black (PI)
Dates: 06/01/2012 – 5/31/2014
Prediction of Reading Achievement in Young Children

Faculty Research Expense Grant (REG), Boston College: Black (PI)
Dates: 06/01/2011 – 5/31/2012
Genetics Methodology Short Course, Jackson Laboratory

Children’s Health Research Program Pediatric Research Fund: Reiss (PI)
Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research, Stanford University School of Medicine
Dates: 01/01/2010 – 12/31/2011
Role: Co-Investigator
Neural Correlates of Humor During Childhood

NIH Research Training Grant (T32): Reiss (PI)
Center for Interdisciplinary Brain Sciences Research, Stanford University School of Medicine
Dates: 06/2008 – 06/2010
Role: Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Supervisor: Dr. Allan L. Reiss
NIH Research Training Grant  

Select Appointments & Awards

Teaching Excellence Award, Boston College School of Social Work, 2016
Teaching Excellence Award, Boston College School of Social Work, 2015
Scholarship Excellence Award, Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, 2014
Teaching Excellence Award, Boston College Graduate School of Social Work, 2013
Phi Beta Kappa, Alpha of California at the University of California, 1998
Summa Cum Laude, University of California, Berkeley, 1998
Alumni Scholar, University of California, Berkeley, 1997, 1998
Mortar Board National Senior Honor Society, 1997
Golden Key National Honor Society, 1997

Professional Activities

2018 – Chair, Teaching Excellence, School of Social Work, Boston College, MA

2018 – Present,  Member, University Council on Teaching

2017 – Present, Chair, Children, Youth & Families Concentration, School of Social Work, Boston College, MA

2011 – Present, Editorial Board, Frontiers in Educational Psychology

Professional Service

Planning Committee + Member, The Health and Play Institute (2019 – present)

A research to practice institute within the annual Play Conference at Clemson University. This year’s institute members have been heavily involved in planning the 2021 Play Conference and theme: The Science of Play: What We Know.

Invited Member, Task Force on Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health and Developmental Neuroscience (2019 – present)

A collaborative project between the Council on Social Work Education (CSWE) and the Erickson Institute, funded by the Irving Harris Foundation

Reviewer, National Institute of Health (NIH) Study Section (2018)

Ad Hoc, Language and Communication (LCOM)

Guest Co-Editor, Special Issue

Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience, Brain Programming by Early Life Stress (2017 – present)

Guest Co-Editor, Special Section

Journal for the Society of Social Work and Research, Special Section: Neuroscience and Social Work, Summer 2018 (2016 – 2018)

Editorial Board

Social Sciences (2020 – present)
Atlantis Press, Advances in Social Science, Education and Humanities Research (2020 – present)
Education Sciences (2020 – present)
PLOS ONE (2019 – present)
Frontiers in Educational Psychology (2011 – present)

Reviewer

Journal of Social Work Education (2019 – 2022)

Ad Hoc Reviewer

Biological Psychiatry; Brain and Language; Brain Structure and Function; Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience; Frontiers in Behavioral Neuroscience; Human Brain Mapping; Journal of Mind, Brain and Education; NeuroImage; Neuropsychologia; Social Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience;The Open Medical Imaging Journal

Abstract Reviewer

Neuroscience Topical Area, Society for Social Work and Research Annual Conference (2014 – 2017)

Membership Committee

Interdisciplinary Association for Population Health Science (2015 – 2016)

Chair

Neuroscience in Social Work, Special Interest Group (SIG), Society for Social Work and Research (2015 – present)