Dr. Barbara Morrongiello, a professor of psychology in the College of Social and Applied Human Sciences, has been named to the Order of Ontario.
An international leader in childhood injury prevention, Morrongiello was recognized for “novel integrative models and unique prevention programs” that have shaped public health.
“Her work serves as a guide for communities and researchers throughout Canada and around the world – measurably reducing injury risks to children every day,” the province said, adding her mentorship is preparing a new generation of scholars to advance similar research.
Morrongiello said being named to the Order “is a tremendous honour because it validates 30 years of work in children’s health – reducing their injury risks and helping parents determine ways to prevent injuries.”
Morrongiello’s research focuses on clinical child and adolescent psychology. She leads the Child Development Research Unit, whose roughly 20 members, including undergrad and graduate students, study critical developmental issues related to child injury prevention.
Understanding why parents and children make unsafe choices
“As a psychologist, I want to understand why people make the choices they make and how they might be persuaded to make healthier choices,” she said. Morrongiello stressed that her work is intended not to tell parents what to do but to provide options and promote agency.
Among a range of initiatives for families, her lab has developed the ALTER for Child Safety program for families of children aged six and under. The program encourages parents to think about activities, location, timing, environment and resources to keep kids safe at home.
SafePeds is a virtual reality-based program that teaches young school-aged children to cross streets safely. This initiative is being implemented in Guelph schools, with plans to extend it nationally.
Morrongiello said few academic psychologists conduct similar research aimed at reducing childhood injuries. She arrived at U of G in 1991, where she studies and teaches in the Department of Psychology.
Morrongiello holds the Canada Research Chair in Child and Youth Injury Prevention and is a Fellow of both the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences and the Royal Society of Canada.
She is among 24 new appointees to the Order of Ontario, the province’s highest civilian honour. The distinction recognizes exceptional leaders from all walks of life and diverse fields of endeavour whose impact and lasting legacy have played an important role in building a stronger province, country and world.
Dr. Barbara Morrongiello