Texas Tech University’s Department of Human Development and Family Studies was well represented at this year’s National Council on Family Relations conference, held November 5-9 in San Antonio, Texas. Alongside the River Walk and the Alamo, our faculty, current graduate students, and graduate-degree alumni presented their research. Several undergraduate members of our local Tech Council on Family Relations also attended, to learn about graduate training and career options working with families. Dr. Judith Fischer served as Program Chair of the conference, lining up plenary-session speakers and organizing the full array of research presentations at the meeting. The following pictures (which you can click on to enlarge) show the extensive participation from our department. In fact, a good way to view the pictures is to click on the first one (thus enlarging it) and then keep clicking on the right-hand arrow to advance the slide show. Readers can also consult the conference program to see the titles of the presentations.
Several HDFS faculty members and graduate students presented their research projects and teaching ideas before various audiences during the first half of the Fall 2013 semester:
- Dr. Jacki Fitzpatrick, a TTU Teaching Academy member, shared some of her innovative instructional techniques at the university’s annual Faculty Academic Contributions Exhibit (FACE) and at the annual Engagement Scholarship conference, a national meeting that Texas Tech hosted this year.
- Dr. Sylvia Niehuis presented a paper (co-authored with TTU colleague Dr. Alan Reifman and Florida State’s Dr. Christine “Coco” Readdick) at the German Pairfam (Panel Analysis of Intimate Relationships and Family Dynamics) conference in Munich. The Pairfam is a large, longitudinal data set that is available for scholars worldwide to conduct analyses. The PowerPoint slideshow from the talk (in PDF form) is available through the conference program.
- Two HDFS doctoral students were scholarship winners at the Texas Tech Graduate School’s annual Arts and Humanities Graduate Student Research Conference: Timothy Oblad ($125) and Rachel Engler ($100).
HDFS faculty member Malinda Colwell and graduate student Holly Wright participated this summer in a unique research and humanitarian project in the African nation of Malawi (map from Wikimedia Commons). Along with faculty colleagues Mary Murimi (Nutritional Sciences) and Markus Miller (Animal & Food Sciences), and student assistants of these professors, Malinda and Holly traveled to Malawi to study the effects of nutritional assistance on behavioral and physical markers of child development. Malinda wrote the following first-person account of her summer trip and provided the accompanying photos.
I am part of a multidisciplinary team of faculty and students working on a research project in Malawi, Africa. We are assessing the effects of goat meat consumption on young children’s development, as well as the health of the children and their mothers. Malawi is the third poorest country in the world. And, although people have access to some food, it is not nutrient rich. Therefore, people often die from malnutrition and more specifically, a lack of protein in their diets. The participants are fed goat meat 5 days a week and we then assess the children’s development in all domains (social, emotional, physical, cognitive). This summer, Holly Wright, an HDFS graduate student and I (along with other faculty and students from various departments) traveled to Malawi to work with the families and to collect the developmental data from the children. Our project is a partnership with Circle of Hope International (COHI), a non-profit that provides food, education, and housing to orphaned children in Malawi. We will continue to collect developmental data from the children every 3 months for a year. We hope that the addition of goat meat to the diet is associated with increase in health and development for the young children in Malawi.
The people in Malawi are very friendly and welcoming. I especially enjoyed spending time with the children, who are fascinated by “azungus” or “white people”. The children are very curious and have a lot of questions about the United States and they are eager to help visitors in any way. Although the people are living in extreme poverty, they are full of joy and thankfulness. Malawians are relational and hospitable people. They take time to greet each person in a group and they have a sincere interest in each other’s welfare. It was refreshing to be among people who spend so much time investing in one another and in their relationships.
The travel was exhausting and very long. But, when we arrived at the Grace Center, all of the children greeted us with singing, lots of smiles, and a welcoming ceremony and that made the long, tiring travel worth it! One of my favorite things about Malawi is the silence and the natural sounds, particularly at night. There is not consistent electricity in the village where we stayed. So, other than the sound of a generator we had for a couple of hours each evening, at night we would hear people singing from our village and surrounding villages, animals, and people talking. There weren’t the electronic sounds of computers, phones, etc. and it was refreshing. I didn’t really realize how much “noise” we have in our lives until that “noise” was all gone.
The HDFS Department welcomes Dana Weiser, our newest faculty member. Dr. Weiser received her Ph.D. at the University of Nevada, Reno, from the school’s Interdisciplinary Social Psychology program. Previously, she earned a Master’s degree at Cal State Los Angeles. As you can see, Dana’s years in L.A. left quite a mark on her! Below the photo are Dana’s answers to some questions to help us get to know her.
Tell us about yourself.
Now that I am living in Texas, I have lived in every time zone in the contiguous U.S. I was born in the Washington, DC area and spent my adolescence in Santa Fe, NM. I spent about six years in the Los Angeles area before moving up to Reno for graduate school.
What are your research interests?
My work primarily explores how prior family experiences relate to individuals’ romantic relationship outcomes and qualities. Specifically, my work focuses on intergenerational patterns of infidelity behavior. Other topics of interest include communication and forgiveness following infidelity, self-efficacy development, and sexual health policies.
What will you be teaching in the Fall?
I’ll be teaching HDFS 3321 (Human Sexuality from a Life Span Perspective).
What kinds of things are you looking forward to at Texas Tech?
I am really looking forward to continuing my program of research and getting a few larger projects started. I am also glad that teaching and mentorship are a central focus here as I really enjoy working with students.
How are you adjusting to Lubbock thus far?
Quite well! I did the First Friday Art Trail when I first arrived so I liked getting to see a bit of Lubbock that way. I have already learned a lot about Buddy Holly.
What do you like to do outside of school?
I enjoy cooking, wine tasting, watching football (Washington Redskins–which won’t make me very popular here in Texas!), and watching basketball (Los Angeles Lakers–which doesn’t make me very popular most places besides LA!).
As we get ready to begin the Fall 2013 semester, here are some faculty and student accomplishments to report:
- Master’s student Rebecca Oldham won an award at the 12th annual Texas Tech Graduate School Research Poster Competition last spring.
- Doctoral student Paulina Velez Gomez is featured among the Texas Tech Graduate School’s student profiles. Paulina presented at a conference in her home country of Colombia during the summer.
- Doctoral student Satabdi Samtani has been selected for the TEACH Program, a one-year program of mentoring and workshops geared toward TTU grad students who hope eventually to teach at the university level.
- Professor Jeff Wherry has been elected to the Teaching Academy, an honor society for Texas Tech faculty who have shown skill in the classroom and commitment to the university’s teaching mission. Jeff and the other new electees will be inducted into the Teaching Academy at a ceremony during the Fall semester.
Several faculty and students from the HDFS department will be working on a large, multi-organization project called the East Lubbock Promise Neighborhood (ELPN), which has received a total of $24.5 million in federal funding over a five-year period.
Promise Neighborhoods are a relatively new federal program from the U.S. Department of Education. According to the Promise Neighborhood website:
The vision of the program is that all children and youth growing up in Promise Neighborhoods have access to great schools and strong systems of family and community support that will prepare them to attain an excellent education and successfully transition to college and a career. The purpose of Promise Neighborhoods is to significantly improve the educational and developmental outcomes of children and youth in our most distressed communities, and to transform those communities…
Interestingly, most of the recipients of Promise Neighborhood funding are in large cities such as Boston, Washington, DC, Los Angeles, and San Francisco. Lubbock thus stands out as a small-city recipient.
According to an article in the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, “East Lubbock Promise Neighborhood is a collaboration of the Lubbock Independent School District, Texas Tech, the Tech Health Sciences Center and multiple community partners, including Covenant Health System, South Plains Food Bank, United Supermarkets and United Way of Lubbock.”
Dr. Scott Ridley, the Dean of the TTU College of Education, was the lead author of the grant proposal, as described in this university news release. In addition to Education and HDFS, other Texas Tech colleges and departments participating in ELPN include Nutritional Sciences; Health, Exercise, and Sport Sciences; Visual and Performing Arts; and Nursing (from the Health Sciences Center).
ELPN personnel have also set up their own local website for the project. As shown on this part of the website, the project will provide services and conduct evaluation research in many areas of life. These areas (with associated HDFS faculty listed in parentheses) include: Early Learning and Literacy (Dr. Mike McCarty, Associate Professor, and Dr. Stephanie Shine, Early Childhood Program Director); Family, Community, and Adult Education (Dr. Elizabeth Trejos-Castillo, Associate Professor); Health and Wellness; and College and Career Readiness.
A detailed report on the ELPN project from the U.S. Department of Education is available here. This report lists Dr. Michael O’Boyle, HDFS Professor and Associate Dean for Research in the College of Human Sciences, as heading up the Early Learning Services portion of the ELPN project.
Dr. Shine, along with our graduate students Tobi Ruwase, Viviana Gomez, and Andrea Parker, recently attended a Juneteenth celebration here in town to publicize the ELPN and seek families willing to participate in the various programs. Following are some pictures from the event (on which you may click to enlarge). In the first photo, Tobi (left) stands by the ELPN information booth.
These next photos show Viviana jumping right into the early-literacy training, reading with area kids.
On a related note, undergraduate Colleen Williams won first place in the Human Sciences division of Texas Tech’s annual Undergraduate Research Conference in May (see photo below). Her poster, entitled “Parent and Teacher Attitudes at Early Head Start,” drew from another of our department’s community-enrichment programs. Colleen worked with Dr. Shine, Dr. Yvonne Caldera, and grad student Debbie Neckles.
HDFS faculty member Elizabeth Sharp has typically conducted her research on women’s singlehood and transition to marriage either through in-depth qualitative interviews or quantitative analysis of survey attitude scales. Either way, there is some sort of verbal expression from each participant, whether a telling of her life story or selecting “strongly agree” regarding some opinion. In collaboration with a colleague from the arts, however, Dr. Sharp has found a new modality for expressing her research participants’ views of singlehood, weddings, and marriage — dance! Dr. Sharp has shared transcripts of her qualitative interviews with Theatre and Dance faculty member Genevieve Durham DeCesaro and other choreographers, who converted the verbal text into dance movements. The result is a performance titled “Ordinary Wars.” This website summarizes the collaboration between Elizabeth and Genevieve, and includes embedded YouTube videos of the performance. Along with the performance, the fruits of this project have included grant funding, journal articles, and a book contract.
Some developments from our faculty:
- Jeff Wherry’s Children’s Justice Act grant application, “Training in Evidence-Based Assessment of Abused Youth,” has been approved for funding, it was just announced. Dr. Wherry is Principal Investigator and will serve as the primary trainer in this online training and supervision project. Over 200 licensed professionals across the entire state of Texas will receive training and supervision using a variety of online technologies. This training in assessment of abused children will result in better treatment for this population in Texas.
- Alan Reifman was quoted in this USA Today article about parents’ relationships’ with their emerging-adult (age 18-29) children.
- Du Feng, who spent 17 years with us on the HDFS faculty, announced that she will be moving to the School of Nursing at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. With her background in quantitative psychology, Du taught many of our statistics courses and applied advanced analytic techniques to research topics such as intergenerational processes in families and (in collaboration with the Texas Tech Health Sciences Center) evaluation of childhood obesity-prevention programs. We will miss her and we wish her the best.
Several Texas Tech HDFS faculty, graduate students, and alumni presented their research at the biennial conference of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), held April 18-20 in Seattle. Here are some photos (click on them to enlarge)…
Five Texas Tech faculty and staff members associated with HDFS were recognized at the annual Length of Service Awards Ceremony last Thursday, March 28. The ceremony recognizes employees who have completed 15 or more years of service at Texas Tech (in increments of five years). Professors Sybil Hart and Alan Reifman received their 15-year pins, as did two of our Ph.D.-program alumni, Jim Childers, who teaches in Forensic Sciences, and Andrea McCourt, who specializes in distance/online education. HDFS office manager Sidney Fleming was honored for 25 years at the university (which includes time in other departments before joining us). A full list of recognized employees is listed here.
Elizabeth Trejos-Castillo was honored as one of “14 Hispanic Professors Making a HUGE Difference in Texas.”
The annual Texas Council on Family Relations conference gets underway tomorrow in Austin. Janis Henderson, a Ph.D. student in our department, has served this past year as Vice President of the organization in charge of planning the conference.