Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute for Child & Family Development, Wayne State University, Detroit, MI

REPORT | 2021 & 2022

New Year, New Leadership:

Pediatrics Professor Named MPSI Director

Dr. Alissa Huth-Bocks lives by those words. Since becoming MPSI’s director on January 1, she has worked to meet with MPSI’s faculty and staff, understand the scope of their projects, learn Wayne State’s processes and bring a fresh approach to community and collegial connections. “My background in clinical psychology comes in handy,” she said, “as I understand the importance of both advancing scientific knowledge and applying or ‘translating’ that knowledge to best support families through service and outreach.” MORE

MPSI Research Faculty

This research addresses challenges during developmental periods that involve great change and growth, such as birth, early infancy and adolescence. Faculty Highlights

We explore creative ways to help children, parents and families successfully navigate and respond to the risks, challenges and transitions in their lives. Faculty Highlights

Studies focus on the relationship between brain development and neurobehavioral function, health and well-being across the lifespan – from pre-birth through early adulthood. Faculty Highlights

This research looks at factors such as birth events, illness or health status, and prenatal or early exposures to toxins, drugs or community violence, that affect child and adolescent development and health.  Faculty Highlights

MPSI Affilated Research Faculty

MPSI is fortunate to have eight Wayne State professors from a range of disciplines who serve as affiliated faculty members. They join us from departments in psychology, psychiatry and behavioral neuroscience, public health, family medicine and pharmacy. Each has . . . MORE

Infant Mental Health Dual-title Program

Infant Welfare is the Priority

MPSI's dual-title degree in Infant Mental Health is one of only a few programs like it across the country. Graduate students in social work, psychology or nursing add coursework in IMH. Infant mental health theory, assessment, and treatment are fully integrated into each dual-title students' major area of study. Master's and doctoral students . . . MORE

Infant Mental Health Scholarship Winner Honored as Commencement Speaker

AeYanna Yett’s motto is: “Live the best life you can" 

As a student in the Social Work Master’s program (with a dual-title degree in Infant Mental Health), she embodied those words. She won the Weatherston Infant Mental Health Scholarship in 2021, and Student of the Year for the National Association of Social Workers in 2022. In 2023, she was named commencement speaker for the School of Social Work. Between these honors, she followed her passion to empower Black women and girls in the community because she grew up experiencing “gendered racism daily,” she said. She was president of the WSU Association of Black Social Workers and interned at the WSU Humanities Clinic doing outreach with older African Americans. As an Albert Schweitzer Humanitarian Fellow, she created a community space to improve Black women’s access to wellness and healing.

AeYanna plans to pursue a Ph.D. in sociology researching ways to empower Black females and end gender-based violence. We can use the “traumas that we experience as soil to plant our roots and transform into the beautiful beings we are created to be,” she said.

View Commencement Speech at: 1:26:32

MPSI Trainees 2021/2022

Graduate Students become MPSI Trainees and Fellows

Trainees come from a wide range of departments across campus to concentrate on issues related to child and family development. Our interdisciplinary team of faculty mentors and advisors works with each student to strengthen their research skills, writing, community outreach and academic focus. Covid-19 may have forced some re-routing in their journeys, but they still traveled far. Highlights

Research Grants

Grants Support Innovative Work to Improve the Well-being of Children & Families

View all Grant Funding

Healthier Urban Families

The Road through Uncertainty Ends in Resilience

Healthier Urban Families (HUF) programs connect MPSI to the community through trainings for social workers and educators, and workshops for parents, grandparents and students. Beverly Weathington, LMSW, heads the programs and creates and delivers most of the trainings. She paused to reflect on the year 2020 with shock and awe: shock at how Covid upended schools, routines, . . . MORE

Early Childhood Center

Through the Looking Glass:

Reflections on Learning During and After the Pandemic

by Jamie Karagatsoulis

Director, Early Childhood Center at MPSI

The last few years have marked perhaps the most turbulent times in our society and like many throughout the state, the country and the world, we have all felt the impact of the global pandemic. During the 2020-2021 school year, our Early Childhood Center (ECC) experienced many MORE

Centennial Celebration

The year 2020 marked the 100th anniversary of the founding of the Merrill Palmer Skillman Institute. Unfortunately, 2020 also marked the beginning of large-scale lockdowns due to Covid. The grand opening of the MPSI Centennial Exhibit installed at the Reuther Library at WSU had to be cancelled. Over 400 people eventually visited the exhibit at the Reuther, but many more wanted to attend. So we moved the entire exhibit to the lower level of the Pauline Knapp Building, adjacent to MPSI's offices. Dr. Knapp was the beloved president of Merrill Palmer during extensive growth in the 1950s and 60s. To visit the exhibit, email Ryan at

Purchase a Commemorative Centennial Pewabic Tile

This custom-designed tile is based on the Merrill family crest first used at the school in 1923 to honor the vision of its founder, Lizzie Merrill Palmer. The motto, Vincit Qui Patitur , (Who Endures is Victorious) points the Institute toward its next 100 years.

Purchase this one-of-a-kind keepsake


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The Historic Freer House / Home to MPSI Faculty, Staff & Trainees

Freer House Director William Colburn (rt) helps guide the re-hanging of MPSI's historic bronze plaque, a quote from founder Lizzie Merrill Palmer. The plaque was relocated from the foyer to accommodate the hanging of the replica of a painting originally owned by Charles Freer.

Become a Member

Built in 1892 by Detroit industrialist and art collector, Charles Lang Freer, the Freer House is a masterpiece of American shingle-style architecture and the birthplace of the Freer Gallery of Art in Washington D.C.. These bonds to our nation's Capitol and much of the world make the Freer House an ambassador of Detroit's cultural heritage. An early champion of American, Asian, and Middle Eastern art, Freer's commitment to multi-culturalism is celebrated today in the house's mission and programming.

An International Landmark

A World Class Lecture Series

Access Recent Presentations

Feb 23, 2023

Charles Lang Freer, Chinese Art, and the Making of Global Detroit


Dec 8, 2022

The Peacock Room in Detroit, 1904-1919

May 24, 2022

Mad About Painting: Hokusai & Freer


Mar 31, 2022

Wonderful & Alarming Women: Charles Lang Freer and the Women Who Helped Establish His Museum

Feb 10, 2022

Freer and Egypt Art, National Museum of Asian Art, Smithsonian



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