Robert M. La Follette School of Public Affairs
Tuesday, September 25, 2018

'18 alumnus Cruz to discuss poverty, pregnancy, neuroscience

'18 alumnus Cruz to discuss poverty, pregnancy, neuroscience

Joshua Cruz (MPA ’18), a student in the Neuroscience & Public Policy Program, is giving a presentation titled Poverty, Pregnancy, and Public Assistance Programs: A Neuroscience & Public Policy Perspective on Thursday, October 4. The program begins at 3 p.m. in Biotechnology Auditorium 1111, Genetics & Biotechnology Center, 425 Henry Mall.

Cruz will briefly review the history of income inequality and intergenerational poverty in the United States; biological prenatal risk factors associated with poverty; and the current status of public assistance programs that support prenatal health. He also will offer insights into developing improved policies that support the development of programs aimed at reducing the biological impacts of poverty during the prenatal period.

Cruz received a bachelor’s degree in neurobiology, physiology, and behavior from the University of California, Davis, in 2011. He then worked for three years as a research specialist at the Cognitive Analysis & Brain Imaging Laboratory (CABIL) at the UC Davis MIND Institute in Sacramento, where he studied risk factors for schizophrenia in children with chromosome 22q11.2 deletion syndrome.

His dissertation research is focused on understanding neurodevelopment trajectories and identifying risk factors for anxiety using a longitudinal sample of pre-adolescent girls who have been identified to have an elevated risk for anxiety. Using a combination of behavioral assessments, psychophysiology, and multi-modal neuroimaging techniques, he hopes to further understand risk factors for anxiety, specifically focusing on limbic structures such as the amygdala and bed nucleus of the stria terminalis as well as its role in anticipatory anxiety.