Jennifer Burke Lefever

Faculty Fellow, Master of Autism Studies Managing Director, The University of Notre Dame William J. Shaw Center for Children and Families

"I am excited to teach the future leaders in the field how to understand and critically evaluate research related to autism. This skill set will help leaders make decisions pertaining to use of resources and to support the adaptation to changes in the future."

My graduate work consisted of broad training in developmental psychology with a focus on children with disabilities. I supplemented my advanced training in quantitative psychology at the University of Notre Dame by attending workshops on quasi-experimental design and cluster-randomized trials offered by Northwestern University. I have over two decades' of experience in research, including longitudinal descriptive projects, Randomized Controlled Trials (RCT), and community program impact evaluations. This training and experience will help bring to life the methodologies taught in the research design and methods course.


PhD, University of Notre Dame

Area of Expertise

Socio-emotional development
Program evaluation

Research Interests

Optimization of early childhood experiences to support cognitive, social, emotional, and moral development

Graduate Courses Taught

AUST 535: Autism Research Design and Methods

Professional Experience

I have over 20 years’ hands-on experience with research with families. My early research documented the developmental consequences of non-optimal parenting on children. More recent research has focused on home-based interventions and other program evaluations (e.g. bullying prevention, prison nursery). I have held a leadership position at the Shaw Center for Children and Families since 2008, supervising shared laboratories, consulting on projects, and supporting grant-writing. I have taught undergraduate introduction to psychology and research methods courses within the psychology department at the University of Notre Dame.

Awards and Honors

  • Certificate of Teaching Excellence, University of Notre Dame, John A. Kaneb Center for Teaching and Learning

Professional Memberships

  • Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD)

Recent Presentations, Lectures or Addresses

Narvaez, D., Cheng, Y., Woodbury, R., Gleason, T., Lefever, J. B., & Wang, L. (December, 2016). Relation of Early Nest Experience to Moral Development in Young Children. Association for Moral Education annual meeting, Harvard University, Boston.

Frausto, A., Lefever, J. B., & Braungart-Rieker, J. M. (2016, October). Testing bidirectional paths between father involvement and child socioemotional competence in young boys of color. Poster presented at the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Babies, Boys, and Men of Color conference, Tampa, FL.

Tumminello, M. E., Niklinska, E. B., Braungart-Rieker, J. M., Cummings, E. M., Burke, J., Sarma, M. S., & Gettler, L.T. (2016, June). Intersections between parental sleep quality, testosterone, individual well-being, and relationship happiness. Poster presented at the 28th Annual Meeting of the Human Behavior and Evolution Society (HBES), Vancouver, BC, Canada.

Nowak, A. L., Braungart-Rieker, J. M, & Lefever, J. B. (2016, May). Links between early parenting and trajectories of infant emotion regulation as a function of maternal risk. Poster presented at the International Conference on Infant Studies (ICIS), New Orleans, LA.

Tran, D., Braungart-Rieker, J. M, & Lefever, J. B. (2016, May). Pre- and postnatal depressive symptoms in relation to trajectories of parenting. Poster presented at the International Conference on Infant Studies (ICIS), New Orleans, LA.

Miller-Graff, L., & Lefever, J. B. (2015, September). Violence against women during pregnancy: Enduring effects in the post-partum period and implications for the intergenerational transmission of risk. Poster presented at the European Conference on Domestic Violence (ECDV), Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Lefever, J. B., Guajardo, K., Johnson, R., & Guzman, J. C. (2015, March). The influence of parental engagement activities and attitudes on the pre-academic outcomes of Head Start children. Poster presented at the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Biennial Meeting, Philadelphia, PA.


Lefever, J. E. B., Bigelow, K. M., Carta, J. J., Borkowski, J. G., Grandfield, E., McCune, L., Irvin, D. W., & Warren, S. F. (2017). Long-term impact of a cell phone enhanced parenting intervention. Child Maltreatment, 22 (4), 305-314.

Narvaez, D., Gleason, T., Lefever, J.B., Wang, L., & Cheng, A. (2016). Early experience and ethical orientation. In D. Narvaez, Embodied morality: Protectionism, engagement and imagination (pp. 73-98). New York, NY: Palgrave-Macmillan.

Braungart-Rieker, J.M., Lefever, J.B., Planalp, E.M., & Moore, E.S. (2016). Body Mass Index at age 3: Cascading effects of prenatal maternal depression and mother-infant dynamics. Journal of Pediatrics, 177, 128-132.

Nuttall, A., Valentino, K., Wang, L., Lefever, J., & Borkowski, J. (2015). Maternal history of parentification and warm responsiveness: The mediating role of knowledge of infant development. Journal of Family Psychology, doi:10.1037/fam0000112

Schatz-Stevens, J. N., Cockburn, B. S., Lefever, J. E. B., & Borkowski, J. G. (2015). The role of physiological regulation in understanding the influence of child abuse potential on children’s behavioral problems. NHSA Dialog, 18.