Dr. Jessica Riggs Receives 2024 Emerging Scholar Award

Dr. Jessica Riggs Honored with 2024 Hiram Fitzgerald Emerging Scholar/Researcher Award for Contributions to Infant Mental Health

Dr. Jessica Riggs, Assistant Professor at Zero To Thrive in the Department of Psychiatry at the University of Michigan, has been honored with the Michigan Association for Infant Mental Health (MI-AIMH) 2024 Hiram Fitzgerald Emerging Scholar/Researcher Award. Dr. Riggs is recognized for her innovative research advancing the field of Infant and Early Childhood Mental Health (IECMH), with a special focus on strengthening early relationships and supporting research and clinical practices that hold a social justice lens to address racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, and other inequities embedded in systems affecting young children and their families.

The MI-AIMH award announcement included glowing recognition of her passion for the field of infant mental health, demonstrated by her extensive research and clinical expertise. "Dr. Riggs holds a clear passion for and commitment to clinical science, as evidenced by her productive and high-quality research. She thoughtfully addresses health equity and considers culturally responsive approaches to working with and understanding the experiences of families who face structural inequities and forms of oppression and marginalization."

The award communication goes on to say, "Her expertise in the assessment of early relationships is reflected in the number of highly complex methods she employs in her attachment-oriented research... This breadth of expertise speaks not only to the depth of her attachment training and knowledge but also to her clear observational skills and insight."

Reflecting on her journey, Dr. Riggs expressed profound gratitude for the MI-AIMH community and also expressed why she feels this work is so meaningful "By allowing ourselves to focus on relationships beginning in pregnancy, and infancy, we are allowing ourselves to see the truth of all things. That who we are matters, even if we are very small, and cannot speak for ourselves. And that no matter our age, we can always reflect and revisit our past, and empower ourselves to celebrate the wisdom that brought us to this space, as well as the power to change what no longer serves us."

Her commitment to this field is evident not only in her scholarly achievements but also in her clinical practice, where she mentors and trains the next generation of mental health professionals. Dr. Riggs's work underscores the significance of early relationships, advocating for a holistic understanding of mental and relational health from the start of life.

Dr. Riggs obtained her PhD in Clinical Psychology from Eastern Michigan University in 2019, followed by a Postdoctoral Fellowship at the University of Michigan in 2021. Zero To Thrive is incredibly grateful for Jessica's constant and unwavering dedication to the field of infant mental health, her leadership within Michigan Medicine, and the countless lives she touches.

Photo of Dr Jessica Riggs Accepting 2024 Emerging Scholar Award