Katharine A Suma

College of Family and Consumer Sciences

Human Development and Family Science

Research Specialist


Degree Field of Study Institution Graduation
B.S. Child Development Florida State University 2005
M.S. Educational Psychology Georgia State University 2010


My main research interests broadly encompass parent-child interactions: how to systematically observe joint engagement, identifying caregiver contributions, and the application of systematic observation measures across diverse cultures.  I am also interested in parental support systems for parents with children facing developmental difficulties, particularly in the context of and time surrounding early developmental disorder diagnosis.


Award Name Awarded By Year Awarded
Emily Quinn and J. W. Joe Pou Scholarship College of Family and Consumer Sciences 2022-2023
Karen R. Davis Scholarship College of Family and Consumer Sciences 2020-2021
Virginia Wilbanks Kilgore Scholarship College of Family and Consumer Sciences Dean's Office, University of Georgia 2019-2020
Staff Development Award for Professional Development College of Arts and Sciences, Georgia State University 2015, 2017, 2019

Advisory Committee

Dr. Margaret Caughy

Dr. Geoffrey Brown

Dr. Kalsea Koss

Areas of Expertise

I am currently the master rater for the Joint Engagement Rating Inventory (JERI), a protocol for the systematic observation of dyadic interaction between a primary caregiver and a young child.  Through this role I have worked with projects around the world to apply applicable JERI items to measure joint engagement and other communicative behaviors.  I have also developed, along with the researchers on the projects, new items that fit within the JERI framework but measure project specific behaviors.  The the JERI has been used with typically developing infants aged 12 months to children with developmental and cognitive delays aged 10 years and older.  

Current Research

I have a number of current research lines:

1. Using maternal education as a measurement of support resources in an everchanging landscape of economic disparity. Specifically, I am interested in understanding unique contributions of maternal education to educational achievement and hope to investigate how mothers with some college or post-highschool schooling compare to those with less and more educational experience.

2. Neighborhood impact on African American and Latino youth. Specifically, understanding how neighborhood cultural alignment might support academic achievement.

3. Joint engagement as a predictor for later child language pragmatics and theory of mind understanding. This investigation is an extension of previous work with a longitudinal sample (12 months to 36 months) with cognitive process outcomes (at 48 months).

4. Application of JERI rating items to diverse populations. There are three veins within this current research. 1. Adapting JERI items to capture potential differences in how mothers and father interact with their toddlers. 2. Create new culturally relevant rating items to measure constructs unique to African American parenting interactions. 3. Continue working with the WHO to apply a corpus of rating items internationally to create global measures of joint engagement as outcomes for a caregiver intervention study.

Job Description

As the Research Specialist on the NICHD Grant, "The Role of Fathering in the Language Development Among Young, Low-Income African American and Latino Children" (R01 HD100557-01A1, PI Caughy, 2020-2025), my main role is to collect systematic observational rating data from archival video records of parent-child interactions. These observational ratings use the JERI (Joint Engagement Rating Inventory) system of rating scales to collect information about joint engagement, child behavior, parent behavior and dyadic interaction. I also help develop new rating items based on research aims and contextualized within the framework of the study sample in terms of cultural saliency and interactional expectations. As part of this undertaking, I supervise a team of four raters. I also coordinate across co-investigators located at five different universities across the country. As data is collected, I also manage and maintain the database for reliability and analysis purposes.

Journal Articles

Settanni, M., Suma, K., Adamson, L., McConachie, H., Servili, C., & Salomone, E. (2023). Treatment mechanism of the WHO Caregiver Skills Training intervention for autism delivered in community settings. Autism Research. https://doi.org/10.1002/aur.3058

Morton, L., Anderson, L., Caughy, M. O., Osborne, K., Suma, K., & Little, T. (2023). Changes in ethnic identity in middle childhood: Family and neighborhood determinants. The Journal of Early Adolescence. https://doi.org/10.1177/02724316231182292

Bakeman, R. & Suma, K. (2022). Joint engagement as a triadic state and joint attention as an infant skill shared by humans and chimpanzees [Commentary on the article “Joint attention in human and chimpanzee infants in varied socio-ecological contexts”]. Monograph Matters. https://monographmatters.srcd.org/2022/03/30/commentary-bakemansuma-86-4/

Pace, A., Rojas, R., Bakeman, R., Adamson, L. B., Tamis-LeMonda, C. S., Caughy, M. O., Owen, M. T., & Suma, K. (2022). A longitudinal study of language use during early mother-child interactions in Spanish-speaking families experiencing poverty. Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, 65(1), 303-319. https://doi.org/10.1044/2021_JSLHR-21-00329

Adamson, L. A., Caughy, M. O., Bakeman, R., Rojas, R., Owen, M. T., Tamis-LeMonda, C. S., Pacheco, D., Pace, A., & Suma, K. (2021). The quality of mother-toddler communication predicts language and early literacy in low-income Mexican-American children. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 56(3), 167-179. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.ecresq.2021.03.006

Salomone, E., Settanni, M., McConachie, H., Suma, K., Ferrara, F., Foletti, G., Salandin, A., WHO CST Team, Servili, C., & Adamson, L. B. (2021). Pilot randomised controlled trial of WHO Caregiver Skills Training in public health servies in Italy. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-021-05297-x

Adamson, L. A., Suma, K., Bakeman, R., Kellerman, A., & Robins, D. L. (2021). Auditory joint attention skills: Development and diagnostic differences during infancy. Infant Behavior and Development, 63. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.infbeh.2021.101560

Adamson, L. A., Bakeman, R., Suma, K., & Robins, D. L. (2020). Autism adversely affects auditory joint engagement during parent-toddler interactions. Autism Research. http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/aur.2355

Tamis-LeMonda, C., Caughy, M., Rojas, R., Bakeman, R., Pacheco, D., Owen, M., Adamson, L.B., Suma, K., & Pace, A. (2019). Culture, parenting, and language: Respeto in Latine mother-child interactions. Social Development, 0, 1-24. https://doi.org/10.1111/sode.12430

Adamson, L.B., Bakeman, R., Suma, K., & Robins, D.L. (2019). Sharing Sounds: The development of auditory joint engagement during early parent-child interaction. Developmental Psychology, 55(12). https://doi.org/10.1037/dev0000822.

Adamson, L.B., Bakeman, R., Suma, K., & Robins, D.L. (2019). An expanded view of joint attention: Skill, engagement, and language in typical development and autism.  Child Development, 90, e1-e18. https://doi.org/10.1111/cdev.12973

Suma, K., Adamson, L.B., Bakeman, R., Robins, D.L., & Abrams, D.N. (2016). After early autism diagnosis:  Changes in intervention and parent-child interaction. Journal of Autism and Developmental Disorders, 46, 2720-2733. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10803-016-2808-3

Hirsh-Pasek, K., Adamson, L.B., Bakeman, R., Owen, M.T., Golinkoff, R.M., Pace, A., Yust, P.K.S., & Suma, K., (2015). The contribution of early communication quality to low-income children’s language success. Psychological Science, 26 (7), 1-15. https://doi.org/10.1177/0956797615581493

Working Papers

Suma, K., Caughy, M. O., Bakeman, R., Washington, J., Murray, B. K., & Owen, M. T. (under reivew). Active Direction in parenting: A new observational measuring of African American parenting style.

Suma, K., & Caughy, M. O. (under review). Lens, tone, and bias: A systematic review of parenting behavior in early interaction studies.

Suma, K., Caughy, M. O. (in preperattion). Impact to implications: Considerations for Maternal Education.

Suma, K., Morton, L., Allen, K., & Caughy, M. O. (in preparation). Actively Changing the Narrative: An Exploration of Culturally Grounded Parenting and Social Skills.

Caughy, M. O., Suma, K., Owen, M. T., Rojas, R., & Bakeman, R. (in preparation). Mothering and fathering: Similarities and differences related to family cultural context.

Jump to top