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Melissa Burnham, Ph.D.

Associate Dean, Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies

Melissa Burnham

Contact Information


  • Ph.D., University of California, Davis
  • M.S., University of Nevada, Reno
  • B.S., University of Nevada, Reno


Dr. Melissa Burnham is the Associate Dean for the College of Education and an Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies and Early Childhood Education. She obtained her Ph.D. in Human Development from the University of California, Davis in 2002, her Master's degree in HDFS from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1996, and her Bachelor's degree in HDFS from the University of Nevada, Reno in 1994. She has been a faculty member with the HDFS program since the fall of 2001.

Dr. Burnham's research interests focus on the examination of infant and child development in context, with specific expertise in infant and child sleep development. She is also interested in and has studied the impact of quality early care and education on development and PreK-Third Grade educational reform efforts. Dr. Burnham teaches courses in the HDFS undergraduate and master's degree programs as well as in the Early Childhood Education track of the Integrated Elementary Teaching Program (IETP).

Dr. Burnham currently serves the College of Education as the chair of the IETP and HDFS undergraduate program committees. She serves the Reno/Sparks community as the chair of the local Washoe County Early Childhood Advisory Council and a member of the Nevada Registry Advisory Committee. And, she serves the state of Nevada as an appointed Commissioner on the Nevada Commission on Professional Standards in Education.

Selected Publications

  • Walsh, B. A., Burnham, M. M., Pasley, C., & Maitoza, R. B. (submitted). Explicit reference to theory: A content analysis of two prominent human development journals. Submitted to Family Science Review.
  • Burnham, M. M. (in press). Co-sleeping and self-soothing issues during infancy. In A. Wolfson & H. Montgomery-Downs (Eds.), The Oxford handbook of infant, child, and adolescent sleep. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Burnham, M. M. (2012). Sleep in early development. In D. Barrett& P. McNamara (Eds.), Encyclopedia of
    sleep and dreams. Santa Barbara, CA: Greenwood Publishers.
  • Mortensen, J., & Burnham, M. M. (2012). Preschool children¹s understanding of the graphic features of writing. Child Studies in Diverse Contexts, 2(1), 45-60.
  • Burnham, M. M., & Gaylor, E. E. (2011). Sleep environments of young children in post-industrial societies. In M. El-Sheikh (Ed.), Sleep and development: Familial and socio-cultural considerations. New York: Oxford University Press.
  • Burnham, M. M., & Conte, C. (2010). Developmental perspective: Dreaming across the lifespan and what this tells us. In A. Clow & P. McNamara (Eds.), International Review of Neurobiology: Vol. 92. Dreams and dreaming (pp. 47-68). New York: Elsevier.
  • Owens, J. & Burnham, M. M. (2009). Sleep disorders. In C. Zeanah (Ed.), Handbook of infant mental health (pp. 362-376). New York: Guilford.
  • Essa, E. L., Bennett, P., Burnham, M. M., Martin, S. S., Bingham, A., & Allred, K. (2008). Do variables associated with quality child care programs predict the inclusion of children with disabilities? Topics in Early Childhood Special Education, 28(3), 171-180.
  • Burnham, M. M. & Gaylor, E. E. (2008). Behavioral sleep disorders in infants and toddlers. In A. Ivanenko (Ed.), Sleep and psychiatric disorders in children and adolescents (pp. 23-35). New York: Informa.
  • Burnham, M. M. (2007). The ontogeny of diurnal rhythmicity in bed-sharing and solitary-sleeping infants: A preliminary report. Infant & Child Development. 16, 341-357.
  • Suzuki, Y., Seugnet, L., Thimgan, M., Thacher, P. V., Burnham, M. M., & Shaw, P. (2012). Identifying genes that confer resilience/vulnerability to sleep disruption in drosophila. Sleep, 35 (Abstract Suppl.), A12.
  • Burnham, M. M., Kranovich, S., Bruck, D., & Beebe, D. W. (2012). Expectation vs. reality: An examination of adolescents¹ accuracy at predicting mood changes under sleep restriction. Sleep, 35 (Abstract Suppl.), A359-360.
  • Burnham, M. M., Gaylor, E. E., & Wei, X. (2011). Associations between nap duration and observed childcare quality using data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort. Sleep, 34 (Abstract Suppl.), A287.


  • Essa, E. L., & Burnham, M. M. (Eds.) (2009). Informing our practice: Useful research on young children¹s development. Washington, DC: National Association for the Education of Young Children.
  • Burnham, M. & Lawler, J. (2006). The complete idiot¹s guide to sleep training for your child. New York: Penguin.

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