Research in Human Development and Family Science
Associate Professor and Extension Human Development Specialist
I conduct applied research to evaluate the effectiveness and short- and long-term impact of outreach programs on early brain development, healthy eating and physical activity for young children, appropriate use of technology with children and adults within and outside hospital settings, and other topics.
I am currently leading or co-leading three applied research projects.
Healthy Child Care Georgia
I collaborate with Foods and Nutrition Assistant Professor Caree Cotwright to implement and evaluate luates the effectiveness of a policy, systems, and environment approach, combined with direct nutrition education, to change the nutrition and physical activity environments and practices of early childhood programs in Clarke County, Georgia. We are currently working with PreK teachers in the Clarke County School district to make policy changes related to nutrition and physical activity, and to incorporate a 6-week developmentally appropriate curriculum on nutrition and physical activity into their classroom curriculum for young children. This multi-year project is funded with UGA SNAP-Ed funding.
Preventing Opioid Misuse in Rural Georgia
This is a USDA Rural Health and Safety grant-funded collaboration of Extension professionals and opioid researchers in Public Health, Pharmacy, and Public Affairs to pilot-test community-based interventions to build family strengths, increase community awareness of opioid misuse, and help professionals identify and manage opioid misuse in youth and adults. Current efforts include county needs assessment, developing and implementing programs in 4 rural counties, and evaluating the effectiveness of these programs. This project began in September 2019.
The focus of this effort is to increase use of brain development research to provide appropriate care and nurturing for young children. This effort includes co-leading the Georgia Better Brains for Babies (BBB) initiative, training BBB educators, and developing and disseminating print and online resources on early brain development. BBB training has been adopted by Extension professionals in three states (Georgia, Kansas, and Illinois), and efforts to expand into Tennessee are currently underway. The applied research component of this project, conducted with undergraduate and graduate student assistants, is evaluating the effectiveness of Better Brains for Babies training in preparing BBB educators to teach brain development to families.
J. Maria Bermudez
Latino/a family dynamics, the intersections of race, class, gender, and sexuality among Latinos, narrative family therapy, and feminist informed therapy and research
Distinguished Research Professor of Human Development and Family Science
My research focuses on those family and school processes that are linked with academic and psychosocial competence among children and adolescents. The contributions of parent-child relationships, sibling relationships, and classroom experiences during elementary and junior high school are of particular interest.
I study social and emotional development in infancy and early childhood from both attachment and family systems perspectives. I have a particular interest in fathering, and much of my research has explored the development of the early father-child relationship and paternal contributions to early development. Past work has examined the correlates of father involvement, paternal sensitivity, and father-child attachment security. Much of my present research is focused on elucidating the developmental course of fathering, family relationships, and infant development in diverse populations, with a particular focus on African American families in resource-poor communities. We are currently funded by NIH to examine contextual factors affecting the transition to parenthood, and fathers' contributions to infant development among unmarried, African American men in rural Georgia. My research aims to contribute to a greater understanding of parenting and early development in socio-cultural context, as well as to the development of strengths-based programs designed to meet the needs of fathers, mothers, and young children facing challenging contextual circumstances.
Professor and Department Head
My research interests are in developmental science and quantitative methods, and especially at the interface of these disciplines. My developmental interests are broadly within the domain of child and adolescent social development, with specific interest in aggression and peer victimization. My quantitative interests are in meta-analysis, structural equation modeling, analysis of longitudinal data, and analysis of interdependent data.
Georgia Athletic Association Professor in Family Health Disparities
I am Principal Investigator of the Dallas Project on Education Pathways (DPREP) funded by NICHD which explores the contextual, cultural, and family factors contributing to the development of self-regulation and academic achievement of African American and Latinx preschoolers experiencing poverty. We have been following this sample of over 400 children since they were 2.5 years old and are currently completing the 8th wave of data collection, when the target children are in 7th grade. I am particularly interested in how familial processes such as supportive parenting and ethnic-racial socialization support healthy development among children experiencing contextual stressors such as economic instability, racism and discrimination, and sociopolitical stress. Video recorded interactions between the study children and their mothers as well as their fathers have allowed us to identify culturally-specific ways that African American and Latinx parents support healthy development in their children.
For more information, visit my lab website: https://www.sdcdlab.com/
NICHD 1R01HD100557-01A1, “The role of fathering in the language development among young, low-income African American and Latino children”, PI, 30%, Budget (total costs): $3,196,051 (2020-2025)
NICHD 2R01HD075311-04A1, “Self-regulation and the transition to middle school”, PI, 30%, Budget (total costs): $2,866,971 (2017-2022).
NICHD 1R01HD086832-01A1, “Quality of early mother-child communication and language outcome in low-income Hispanic children”, PI, 20%, Budget (total costs): $962,425 (2016-2020)
Professor and Extension Family Life Specialist
I research couple and coparenting relationships across various contexts in order to inform the development of educational programs and resources that promote healthy and stable families. As well, I evaluate the efficacy of family life programs in order to better understand educational practices that lead to healthy couple and family relationships.
I am the director of the Couple and Relationship Enrichment (CARE) Laboratory. Also, I direct the Healthy Relationship and Marriage Education (HMRE) projectfunded by an $8.2 million grant from the Administration for Children and Families. This five-year, multi-disciplinary, campus-community partnership project involves the implementation and evaluation of research-based services designed to improve healthy marriage and relationship skills and promote economic stability for families in a 12-county, mostly rural, region in northeast Georgia. I am also in the process of evaluating the impact of a new program, ELEVATE, on foster parent couples. To learn more about my active research projects, visit http://www.fcs.uga.edu/hdfs/care-lab
Dr. George's research has focused on the influence of gender role attitudes on the romantic relationships and future aspirations of rural youth.
I continue to work on the influence of gender role attitudes on the development of romantic relationships among rural youth. I will expand this line of inquiry by considering parental occupations and close relationships.
Additionally, my research includes pedagogical issues in teaching human developmen and family sciences, particularly concerning student engagement, formative assessment, and project based learning.
Associate Clinical Professor
My research encompasses the clinical aspects of my role in the department as well as my role as a faculty member: the practice and supervision of couple and family therapy as well as the scholarship of teaching and learning (pedagogy). I am not taking doctoral students as a primary advisor.
My teaching and scholarship focuses on examining family interactions, improving family functioning, coupled interactions, and strengthening couples as well as the methods for training others for service delivery with couples and families. I use qualitative and mixed methods designs in my scholarship of pedagogy, ethical decision-making, community engagement, couple/family intervention, supervision of clinical trainees, and community-based interventions that encompass overall health, nutrition, mindfulness, and mental health. I conduct evaluation research on both the processes and outcomes of community based trainings, organizations, and community based intervention programs directed toward improving mental health outcomes, overall wellness, and intimate relationships.
Clinical Assistant Professor (Director of Child Development Lab)
My research has focused on the relationships established between families and teachers/homes and schools by co-creating a dialogic bridge.
Athletic Association Professor of Human Development
Dr. Kogan's areas of research include African American men's substance use during emerging adulthood and evaluating family-centered alcohol prevention programs for rural African American youth. His research includes conducting randomized prevention trials and longitudinal studies of development.
My research addresses the public health need to prevent substance use and high-risk sexual behavior among African American youth, particularly those residing in resource-poor rural Southern environments. This research program involves identifying individual, family, and community factors that protect young people from high risk behavior and translating these findings into efficacious, ecologically appropriate interventions.Currently, I am collecting data on 500 rural African American young men as part of a prospective, 5 year study. This study will evaluate men’s romantic and sexual relationship patterns, how these patterns affect sexual risk behavior and family formation, and the intrapersonal and contextual factors that affect relationship development.My job is not only to conduct etiological research but also to translate these findings into programs that can achieve public health impact. I have contributed to the development of a suite of three, developmentally appropriate, family-centered interventions to prevent youth risk behavior.I recently began a project, funded by NIAAA that compares the effects of a series of developmentally timed “inoculations” of family centered prevention programming on youth alcohol use in comparison to single inoculations in early or mid-adolescence or no inoculations.
The central focus of my work is to understand the interplay between social environments and biology to answer the question of how adversity ‘gets under the skin’ to shape mental health during childhood and adolescence. My research examines interplay across multiple levels of responses including emotional, behavioral, genetic, and biological contributions to understanding stress and development. My current work focuses on the stress response system (e.g., the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal axis) and the epigenome.
My research broadly focuses on risky family environments for understanding how early adversity shapes developmental trajectories of health and wellbeing across the life course. My work has examined a diverse range of stressors for families and children including, conflict, harsh parenting, neglect, and poverty. I am also interested in the role of family protective factors that buffer against chronic stress and promote more optimal development.
Senior Lecturer; Undergraduate Program Coordinator
As a Senior Lecturer, I research pedagogy through a Scholarship of Teaching and Learning (SoTL) lens. This allows me to implement pedagogical strategies and systematically explore their effectiveness. Past research in this area includes peer review on research papers. I am actively researching the use of alternative texts in Human Sexuality across the Lifespan (novels) as well and in Family Policy (non-fiction). I am interested in also exploring the impact of internships on students' personal, professional, and civic identities. In the past, I explored family and community involvement through school gardens, looking at funds of knowledge and environmental literacy.
HDFS Writing Center (Spring 2020 – Present)
• Co-Melissa Landers-Potts, Jennifer Gonyea, and Jennifer George
Investing the impact of a departmental writing rubric, Holistic, Universal Writing Rubric (The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) (Spring 18 – Present)
• Co-Melissa Landers-Potts, Jennifer Gonyea, and Jennifer George
Investigating the impact of archival documents on student learning, Family Policy in the Archives (The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) (Spring 18-Present)
Investigating the effectiveness of assessment strategies, which do not include exams, across all of our courses, Authentic Assessment in Applied Science (The Scholarship of Teaching and Learning) (Spring 17 – Present)
• Co-Jennifer George, Ph.D.
Survey to assess the experiences of students after completing an experiential learning opportunity. (Spring 14)
• This is a collaboration between the University of Georgia and Bridgewater College, Donna Hancock Hoskins
Exploring the Peer-Review Process (Spring 2013)
• Co-Meghan Dove, Ph.D., CFLE
Dr. Landers-Potts is interested in how socioeconomic status/overall access to tangible resources and social capital, as well as race/ethnicity influence the success of children as they grow--particularly as these contexts relate to their educational outcomes. Generally, she studies and incorporates into her teaching the importance of recognizing the ways that marginalization of people impedes optimal development and how this can be recognized and addressed. Recently, she has also written, presented and taught about the effect and implications of new technologies on family members and their development. Additionally, she frequently presents on the design of online service-learning courses.
Effects of economic stress and race on children/adolescents via family process pathways, the effects of electronic communication on the well-being of military youth, and the pedagogical effects of a universal, department-wide writing rubric.
Adjunct Professor, Former Haltiwanger Distinguished Professor
Dr. Mancini researches the intersections of resilience and vulnerabilities within family and community contexts. Active research projects included quantitative studies on adolescents in military families, as well as whole-famiily research, also focused on military families. Dr. Mancini's theorizing focuses on families within the context of communities.
Catherine Walker O’Neal
Associate Research Scientist
Broadly, Dr. O'Neal's research emphasizes the use of advanced statistical methods to examine change over time for families’ and individuals’ relational, physical, and mental health. A large portion of her research focuses on the contexts surrounding military families. Dr. O’Neal’s military research focuses on evaluating psychological well-being among military family members, particularly exploring relational and contextual effects, such as community connections, family functioning, and deployment and reintegration experiences. Her work examines protective factors that support military families, such as formal programming and informal networks of support. Recent publications can be found in American Journal of Community Psychology, Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, Journal of Family Psychology, Military Medicine, Family Relations, and Child & Family Studies.
My funded projects include both military- and health-focused grants. My military work includes ongoing evaluation planning efforts for Air Force family programs and research dissemination efforts with DoD through Military REACH to put research on military families into the hands of policymakers, helping professionals, and families themselves. Consistent with my broader research focus on contextual influences on mental, physical, and relational health, I am also a co-investigator on a 5-year longitudinal project funded by the National Institute on Aging (PI: K.A.S. Wickrama) following a cohort of older adult couples in their later years during their retirement transition.
I am interested in children and youth well-being and resilience. In my research program, I focus on understanding youth development using multi-method (observation, surveys, neuroimaging, stress physiology) and multi-level research (e.g., individual cognition, personality, family, peer, and neighborhood environments). Specifically, my laboratory team (ydi.uga.edu) conducts research that elucidates the multi-level mechanisms that underlie the link between early life stress in childhood (e.g., child maltreatment, poverty, cultural stress) and adolescent behavioral risk (e.g. substance use and sexual risk behaviors) and resilience. I hope that knowledge generated by my research would inform intervention and prevention programs, as well as promote resilience among children and adolescents at risk.
Theory and level of analyses that inform my research:
Developmental Psychopathology, Evolutionary-Developmental Perspective, Developmental Psychobiology, Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience
I also direct the Youth Development Institute (YDI); On Twitter: @YDIatUGA
using multi-level methodologies to elucidate links between early life stress and decision making, risk behaviors and resilience among rural youth
My scholarship broadly focuses on persons and families who have experienced trauma, poverty, and marginalization. I currently research culturally responsive family therapy and intervention (US, International: Cambodia, Southeast Asia), with particular interests in immigrant and refugee families who have experienced poverty, trauma, and discrimination.
As a scientist-practitioner, my research, teaching, and outreach dynamically inform each other and are oriented toward the social justice goal of transformation at multiple systemic levels. I am the director of the Culturally Responsive Research and Interventions in Global Settings (Currigs) Lab, which explores the use and development of culturally responsive trauma-informed family therapy in international and local contexts to advance interventions, outreach, and policy that foster well-being in underserved communities.
i. Social determinants of health and health inequality across the life course. ii. Racial/ethnical inequalities in mental and physical health of children and adults. iii. International development and health iv. Application of advanced statistical methods to social epidemiology
Professor, Marriage and Family Therapy Program Director
Elizabeth Wieling’s early research focused on understanding cross-cultural dynamics in psychotherapy intervention and research, and advanced clinical models that more adequately fit the cultural characteristics of Latinx populations – particularly at-risk families dealing with multiple stressors and a history of complex and/or mass traumas. This work has evolved into investigations of preventive and clinical intervention models that demonstrate efficacy, as well as effectiveness, with systematically marginalized and disenfranchised families in the United States and abroad. Central to this research is the development of culturally appropriate, ethical, and methodologically-sound strategies to assess intervention outcomes.
Liz is concurrently pursuing a research agenda that integrates her cross-cultural work and prevention background to develop multi-component systemic-oriented interventions that cut across individual, family, and community levels for populations exposed to mass trauma – particularly related to war and organized violence.
As part of her multi-component interdisciplinary research agenda, she is adapting two evidence-based treatments for implementation with families: 1) Parent Management Training – (GenerationPMTO) is being adapted for work with trauma-affected populations, specifically to support parents to help their children in the aftermath of traumatic events. She previously had adapted GenerationPMTO for at-risk Latina single mothers in a research project underwritten by a National Institutes of Mental Health Research Scientist Career Development Award and has tested the feasibility of the model with Acholi families in Northern Uganda and with Karen refugee mothers resettled in the U.S.; 2) Narrative Exposure Therapy (NET), an intervention for persons diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder, is being incorporated into a multi-component ecological approach, including Narrative Therapy, Emotionally Focused Therapy, and Gender/Cultural/Indigenous Critical models, to assist families.
In addition, Liz is collaborating with U.S. and international teams of interdisciplinary researchers to develop a research agenda focused on global mental health for populations affected by traumatic stress. In the United States, she is collaborating with colleagues from the Oregon Social Learning Center,the Center for Victims of Torture, and several local multicultural agencies. She is also working with researchers in Germany, Uganda, Mexico and Brazil to advance the implementation and dissemination of parenting and family interventions.
Evidenced based treatments for families affected by traumatic stress
Parenting interventions/Child mental health
Immigrant and refugee mental health
Latinx mental and relational health
Prevention, implementation, and dissemination science
Global mental health