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ZERO TO THREE Board President Ross Thompson, Professor Ed Tronick, and ZERO TO THREE Executive Director Matthew Melmed
January 22, 2018

UMass Boston professor Ed Tronick, founder of still-face paradigm, earns Lifetime Achievement Award


  • Boston
Still-Face experiment video viewed more than 5.5 million times

University Distinguished Professor of Psychology Ed Tronick, the founder of the still-face paradigm and UMass Boston’s Infant-Parent Mental Health Postgraduate Certificate Program, received a Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2017 ZERO TO THREE Conference in San Diego, California.

The ZERO TO THREE Lifetime Achievement Award for Dedication to Improving the Lives of Young Children recognizes substantive contributions to improving the lives of infants, toddlers, and their families. Award recipients are individuals whose research, practice, teaching, or advocacy has had a demonstrable impact on very young children and those who care for them.

“ZERO TO THREE is the leading organization for training and advocating policy for infant-parent mental health,” Tronick said. “Especially meaningful for me is that my research on parent-infant interaction and the still-face experiment have been incorporated by the front-line professionals into their most important and creative work with infants, young children, and their families.”

In 1975, Tronick became one of the first researchers to show that babies are profoundly affected by their parents' emotional states and behavior. He developed the still-face paradigm, now the standard tool for studying social emotional development in the fields of pediatrics, psychiatry, clinical and child psychology, and nursing, and revolutionized our understanding of the emotional capacities and coping of infants and the effects of factors such as maternal anxiety and depression on infant social emotional development. Video of Tronick’s still-face experiment, which shows the strong reactions of a baby trying to win back the attention of a mother showing a neutral or “still face," has been viewed on YouTube 5.5 million times.

Participating fellows in the UMass Boston program Tronick founded, the Infant-Parent Mental Health Postgraduate Certificate Program, spend 12 interactive, intensive 3-day weekends learning from Tronick and other luminary lecturers and experts in the field of infant-parent health, like T. Berry Brazelton, Bruce Perry, Peter Fonagy, Joy Osofsky, Charles Zeanah. The highly-acclaimed, internationally-recognized IPMH program advances the quality of mental health services for infants and young children in the context of their earliest relationships, preparing professionals from multi-disciplinary backgrounds for certification in infant–family and early childhood mental health specialists.

The next cohort is scheduled to begin in March. Applications are accepted on a rolling basis until the class is full. For more information, visit the program website at