Author Archives: ttuhdfs

About ttuhdfs

This blog is operated by the Department of Human Development & Family Studies at Texas Tech University. Its purpose is to provide a constant source of news and information to our faculty, staff, and students (current , former, and prospective), and our friends in the HDFS field at large.

Spring 2018 End-of-Semester News

spring 18 hooding

With tonight’s Spring semester Graduate School Commencement, the major part of the 2017-18 academic year is over. Shown above in screen-captures from the university’s streaming video of the ceremony are, from left to right, newly minted Ph.D.’s Jennifer (Harris) Chapman (hooded by her advisor, Dr. Sybil Hart), Brandon Logan and Holly Wright (both hooded by their advisor, Dr. Malinda Colwell). Over the course of the semester, the list of accomplishments and honors in the department grew to be very long. Without further ado…

  • Four faculty/staff members received grants or foundation gifts for their respective research activities and centers.
    • Dr. Zhe Wang received a National Science Foundation Faculty Early Career Development Program (NSF—CAREER) Award, for her project “Getting to the bottom of mathematics anxiety: A longitudinal investigation into its developmental operating mechanisms.”
    • Dr. Monica Martin is part of a team of investigators at Texas Tech awarded an NCAA Choices-Alcohol Education grant from the governing body of collegiate sports.
    • The Center for Adolescent Resiliency, headed by Dr. Sara Dodd, “was awarded a $102,000 grant from Covenant Health to fund the Community Advocacy Project for Students (CAPS), beginning in July 2018… on improving the health and well-being of secondary school students in Lubbock-area schools” (quoting from the College of Human Sciences’ April edition of Internal Insights). The United [Supermarkets] Future Leaders (UFL) program, also associated with the Center for Adolescent Resiliency, will collaborate with Family Promise of Lubbock, a program that provides housing for homeless families. Children being served through Family Promise will be able to participate in a leadership program associated with UFL.
    • Stacy Johnson, director of the Child Development Research Center (CDRC), received gifts of $100,000 from the James A. “Buddy” Davidson Charitable Foundation and $5,000 from the Dallas Foundation, to provide tuition assistance for families whose children attend the CDRC.
  • Six members of the HDFS faculty were honored with nominations at the college level for prestigious awards in the 2018-19 academic year.
    • At the university level, Dr. Sylvia Niehuis was nominated for the President’s Excellence in Teaching Award;
    • Dr. Sara Dodd was nominated for the Spencer A. Wells Award for Creativity in Teaching; and
    • Dr. Colwell received the college’s nod for the President’s Academic Achievement Award.
    • At the TTU System level, Dr. Wonjung Oh was nominated for the Chancellor’s Council Distinguished Research Award.
    • At the college level, HDFS associate chair Mitzi Ziegner is the recipient of the Kathryn Burleson Faculty Service Award; and
    • Dr. Stephanie Shine received the Faculty Award for Commitment to Outreach and Engagement.
  • Dr. Elizabeth Trejos-Castillo received the Faculty International Scholarship Award at the Global Vision Awards Ceremony of Texas Tech’s International Week. In addition, Dr. Trejos and her doctoral student Nancy Trevino-Schafer saw the release of their edited book, the Handbook of Foster Youth published by Taylor & Francis/Routledge.
  • Dr. Colwell and Holly Wright (shown above during her Ph.D. hooding) “received the 2018 ‘Best Published Article’ for the Children, Adolescents, and Media Division of the International Communication Association for their article about the social and emotional developmental effects of the PBS show Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood for preschoolers. Colleagues in the College of Media and Communication are co-authors on the article” (from the March Internal Insights).
  • Three HDFS faculty/staff were honored at the university’s annual Length of Service ceremony. Sandra Vasquez, who oversees undergraduate and graduate program activities in the HDFS office, was recognized for 15 years of service at Texas Tech. Professors Hart and Alan Reifman were recognized for 20 years of service. Photos from the ceremony, with each honoree posed with TTU system chancellor Robert Duncan (left) and TTU president Lawrence Schovanec (right), are available at this link.
  • Dr. Colwell was approved for promotion to Full Professor, and Dr. Yoojin Chae was approved for tenure and promotion to Associate Professor at the Texas Tech System Board of Regents mid-Spring meeting.
  • Dr. Dana Weiser’s research on infidelity continues to attract media attention. A study of hers from the journal Personal Relationships on possible links between parents’ and offspring’s propensity to cheat was featured on KOMO News in Seattle and in a Psychology Today blog. Further, a study involving Drs. Weiser and Niehuis that was published in Personality and Individual Differences on using Tinder for “extradyadic” involvement was featured in Texas Tech Today back in February. Dr. Weiser also spoke to the Daily Star in the United Kingdom on defining different kinds of cheating.
  • Ph.D. student Jennifer Rose received runner-up honors at the 17th annual TTU Graduate Student Poster Research Competition, Human Sciences category. Jennifer’s project was entitled “A Systematic Twenty-Five Year Review of the Family Stress Model” and included as co-authors Dr. Ann Mastergeorge and Dr. Martin.
  • Also from the college’s April Internal Insights: “Two undergraduate research students, Benjamin Neugebauer and Hollyanne Bowler from Dr. Wonjung Oh’s Child Development and Relationships Laboratory, presented their work ‘The Impact of Father’s Marital Satisfaction and Co-Parenting on Child’s Self Perception’ at the 2018 [TTU] Undergraduate Research Conference.” Other participating undergraduates included Matthew Koehl, who worked with Dr. Weiser on a survey of the campus climate for LGBTQIA individuals; Jerra Miller, who worked with Dr. Wang in studying math-anxiety; and Lorena Posadas, who worked with Dr. Niehuis on newlywed couples’ references to money-related terms in their discussions. Click for list of abstracts.
  • Mr. Koehl was also selected as Outstanding Senior in HDFS, as was Alyssa Wilson from the Early Childhood major.
  • Another undergraduate, Melanie (Caitlyn) Morgan, who worked as a research assistant in Dr. Niehuis’s SMITTEN Lab, was selected to participate in the National Science Foundation’s Research Experience for Undergraduates program.
  • Finally, a couple of transitions to report:
    • Dr. Zhen Cong (pronounced “Tsong,” like “tsunami”), a faculty member in our department for the past 10 years, is moving to the University of Texas-Arlington to become an associate dean in the School of Social Work. We wish Dr. Cong the best in her new endeavor!
    • The ubiquitous Dr. Colwell, who served the department for the last three years in the role of Graduate Program Director, will return to being a “regular” professor. We thank her for this service.
Categories: Faculty, Graduate Students, Research, Staff

Happy New Year’s (2018) & Review of Fall ’17

Happy New Year’s from the Texas Tech HDFS department! The Spring 2018 semester will be starting in a few weeks. Until then, we invite you to review some departmental highlights from the Fall 2017 term…

dec 2017 phds

The symbolic marking of a semester’s end is, of course, the university graduation ceremonies. Three graduate students received their Ph.D. degrees. Dr. Yvonne Caldera (front right) was advisor to two of the students, Yang Liu (front left) and Debbie Neckles (front center). During the ceremony, the advisor places the blue hood over the student’s head, onto their neck and shoulders. With two students to hood, Dr. Caldera had a “double-header” on her hands! 🙂 Also, Katie Gerst (back right) was hooded by her advisor, Dr. Alan Reifman (very back).

Three graduate students received Master’s degrees: Amy Cox, Jessica Howell, and Kathryn Williams. The latter two received their degrees via the Great Plains Interactive Distance Education Alliance (GP IDEA), with an emphasis in Youth Development. Through GP IDEA, students select a “home” university among participating institutions, but can take online courses from any of the schools.

As part of the undergraduate commencement activities, Lorena Posadas was the banner bearer for the College of Human Sciences. Lorena worked as an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Sylvia Niehuis’s SMITTEN Lab, which studies dating, courtship, and newlywed relationships.


Two undergraduate students, either majoring in HDFS or having significant ties to the department, won Human Sciences Student of the Month awards: Celeste Conroy (December), and Maya Takano (November, also an undergrad researcher in the SMITTEN Lab).

HDFS business manager Nic Trugillo was the College’s November awardee as Staff Member of the Month.


Dr. Ann Mastergeorge’s eye-tracking research, which seeks markers of autism risk in children, was profiled in Texas Tech Today. Jessica Blume, a graduate student working on parent-child behavioral interventions within the project, was also interviewed.


Ph.D. student Jes Cardenas was accepted into the Teaching Mentorship Program sponsored by the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD). In addition, Jes joined Dr. Wonjung Oh in giving the morning keynote address at the Texas “First 3 Years” conference in September in Dallas.


As originally reported in the College’s “Internal Insights” newsletter:

Members of the Ethiopian delegation to Texas Tech from Jigjiga University (JJU) in the Somali region of Ethiopia, visited the Child Development Research Center (CDRC) to learn about preschool education in the United States and gave a presentation to the college on December 5. Jigjiga University is currently working with the Early Childhood program to explore areas in research and education collaborations.

Photos from the Ethiopian delegation’s visit are available here and here.


Lastly, we have a belated item from last spring. Dr. Mike McCarty (right) was honored at the Texas Tech athletics department’s “TechSPY” awards (like ESPN’s ESPY awards) as a “favorite professor” by basketball player Devon Thomas (center). Thomas was the top graduating senior in terms of GPA on the team.

mccarty & devon thomas

Categories: Faculty, Graduate Students, Graduate-Degree Alumni, Research, Undergraduate Students

2017 End-of-Summer News

The August graduation, held on the 12th of the month, marked the end of summer school, and the start of the Fall semester is little over a week away. In this posting, we list the accomplishments of HDFS students, staff, and faculty since our last posting in late June.

Two of our graduate students received their Ph.D.’s at the August commencement: Cassandra Huey (wearing gold cord), shown with her adviser Dr. Yvonne Caldera (left photo) and Andrea Parker, shown with her adviser, Dr. Mike McCarty (right photo).

cassandra & andrea phd

Miriam Lieway and Cindy Martinez Garza received Master’s degrees at the same ceremony.

Dr. Sybil Hart’s research on sibling-rivalry was featured at

Finally, we have two items that were originally reported in the TTU College of Human Sciences’ “Internal Insights”:

“Instructor Stacy Johnson is awarded a grant from the Helen Jones Foundation for a project entitled ‘Creating Opportunities: Expanding Research and Training Environments for Faculty, Students and Community Professionals.’ This grant will be used to upgrade the equipment at the CDRC to be state-of-the-art for both observations and research endeavors.”

“Dr. Zhen Cong has been awarded a National Science Foundation grant entitled: ‘A multi-level dynamically coupled model for evaluating older adults’ vulnerability and resiliency to disasters.’”

Categories: Faculty, Graduate Students, Staff

Late Spring/Early Summer 2017 Updates

Numerous HDFS faculty members and students achieved recognition over the past few months. They include:

  • Sylvia Niehuis was elected member-at-large to the governing board of the International Association for Relationship Research for a two-year term.
  • Drs. Niehuis and Jean Scott presented at the annual conference of the Groves Conference on Marriage and Family, held in early June in Charleston, South Carolina. The two are also on the group’s board (Dr. Scott as president and Dr. Niehuis as secretary). Helyne Frederick, a Ph.D. graduate of our program and a faculty member at Winthrop University, served as this year’s program chair. Other participants included Kim Corson, also a Ph.D. alumnus, now at Penn State-Behrend, and Professor Emerita Judy Fischer. Here is a link to the program.
  • Talking about Ph.D. graduates, we have four more! Drs. Janis Henderson and Ryan Tingey were hooded in the May ceremony, whereas Cassandra Huey and Andrea Parker recently completed their dissertation defenses (Andrea had also received a Research Support Award from the Graduate School). Miriam Lieway completed her Master’s defense. Other defenses were scheduled at “press time” and will be noted.
  • Dr. Stephanie Shine and Andrea Parker visited Ethiopia, where they spoke at a conference on early-childhood education.
  • Dr. Elizabeth Trejos-Castillo was selected as a TTU Integrated Scholar.
  • Cindy Bruington, Associate Director of the Child Development Research Center, received the Robbie McGrew Child Advocacy Memorial Award from the Early Learning Centers of Lubbock.
  • Dr. Elizabeth Sharp was recently appointed as the university’s Interim Vice President for Diversity, Equity, and Community Engagement. In addition, Dr. Sharp and her colleague from the TTU Dance program, Genevieve Durham-DeCesaro celebrated the release of their new book, Ordinary Wars: Doing Transdisciplinary Research with a signing at the campus bookstore.
  • Mitzi Ziegner will be the new Associate Department Chair in HDFS, replacing Dr. Sharp.
  • Sothy Eng, another Ph.D. alumnus of our program, was profiled in an article from Lehigh University (Pennsylvania), where he is on the faculty.
  • Two of our current Ph.D. students had journal articles come out: Jennifer (Harris) Chapman (with Dr. Sybil Hart; abstract) and Rebecca Oldham (with Drs. Dana Weiser and Elizabeth Sharp; abstract).
  • Drs. Weiser and Niehuis were mentioned in this College of Human Sciences newsletter article for their awards in the Come ‘N Go Seed Grant Program, which funds TTU faculty to visit with a colleague at another university and host that colleague.
  • Bachelor’s alum Whitney Squyres received an award for her work as a local educator.
Categories: Faculty, Graduate Students, Graduate-Degree Alumni, Research, Staff, Undergraduate Alumni

2017 SRCD Conference Comes to Texas Capital

Faculty and graduate students from our department didn’t have to leave the state, as the biennial meeting of the Society for Research in Child Development came to the capital city of Austin.

The first “roll of film” below shows three sets of authors standing by their respective posters: Yang Liu (gray outfit) with Dr. Wonjung Oh; Diane Wittie with Dr. Alan Reifman (the middle portion of their poster was cropped out in the interest of space); and Jennifer Harris Chapman (green jacket) with Dr. Oh and Jes Fyall Cardenas.


In the next roll, the first picture shows Drs. Ann Mastergeorge (left) and Elizabeth Trejos-Castillo (center) from our department, along with their collaborator, Andrea Jackowski of the Federal University of Sao Paulo (Brazil). The next shot features (left to right) Jes, current student Holly Wright, and recent Ph.D. recipients Satabdi Samtani and Paulina Velez. Finally, the last photo shows instructor Mitzi Ziegner, Child Development Research Center director Stacy Johnson, Holly, Dr. Malinda Colwell, and Jes.


Categories: Faculty, Graduate Students, Graduate-Degree Alumni, Research

Faculty and Student Awards, Spring 2017

Several HDFS faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates have won awards and recognitions of various kinds this spring.

Dr. Yoojin Chae was among this year’s recipients of the Chancellor’s Council Faculty Research Awards.

Dr. Elizabeth Trejos-Castillo has received a Fulbright Scholar award and will be studying in Brazil in Spring 2018. She has also been awarded the C.R. Hutchison (Associate) Professorship.

Dr. Elizabeth Sharp was promoted from associate to full professor.

HDFS graduate students took home top prizes in the Human Sciences category at the annual TTU Graduate Student Research Poster Competition. Jennifer (Harris) Chapman won first place, whereas Shima Hassan Zadeh and Mohsen Fouladi tied for second (see list of award recipients). A brief video overview of the Graduate School poster event is available here.

Ivette Noriega has become our first HDFS graduate-student Fulbright scholar. She will be studying in Medellin, Colombia.

Manju Chawla was awarded a TTU Doctoral Dissertation Completion Fellowship.

Finally, Lorena Posadas-Zapata, an undergraduate researcher in Dr. Sylvia Niehuis’s “SMITTEN” Lab, has received the TTU Parents Association Student Academic Citizenship Award.

Categories: Faculty, Graduate Students, Research, Undergraduate Students

New Faculty Member Zhe Wang Joins Us Midway Through Academic Year

The HDFS department hired two new faculty members for the 2016-17 academic year. One, Monica Martin, joined us back in the fall. The other newcomer, Zhe Wang, found it a better fit with her studies to join us in January, which she did. In this posting, we learn a little about Dr. Wang through a Q-and-A.


Tell us about yourself.

I was born in China and came to the U.S. in 2008. I got my Ph.D. in Psychology and M.S. in Statistics from Virginia Tech and did a 2-year postdoc at The Ohio State University. I joined the faculty of HDFS at TTU in spring 2017.

What are your research interests?

My work primarily examines the development of individual differences in socio-emotional outcomes, cognitive abilities, and educational attainments in children and young adolescents. My research incorporates genetic, physiological, and behavioral approaches, and examines how factors at these various levels interact with environmental context to produce diverse developmental trajectories. Another interest of mine is to study parenting, in particular how child behaviors shape various parenting practices.

What courses are you teaching in your first semester?

I am teaching Dynamics of Family Interaction this semester. It is a new course to me as I have never taken a similar course myself, so it is a learning opportunity for me as well.

What kinds of things are you looking forward to at Texas Tech?

I am really looking forward to starting my independent research program here at Tech. My first project (which I am really excited about) will explore the non-cognitive aspect of mathematics performance. This project will include some really novel design that I haven’t seen in the literature, so hopefully it will make an important contribution to the field! I am also very looking forward to building some new collaborations with scholars across campus to sparkle some new and exciting ideas! Finally, I am hoping to fully exploit my statistics background, potentially through teaching a quant course and developing a new course on behavioral genetics methodology.

How are you adjusting to Lubbock thus far?

Everything is going smoothly so far. I have explored a couple of Asian restaurants and liked most of them. I love Market Street, in particular their air-chilled chicken and well-grown plants!

What do you like to do outside of school?

I like watching documentaries, doing puzzles, eating good food, and listening to music. I am really hoping to adopt a pair of dogs soon so that playing with my dogs will become my favorite thing to do outside work then!

Categories: Faculty, Welcome

Fall 2016 End-of-Semester News & Holiday Greetings!

Graduation weekend, the symbolic ending point of a given semester, has just taken place for the Fall 2016 term. Friday night, December 16, the Texas Tech Graduate School Commencement was held. Four students received their Ph.D. in HDFS, as shown below in a group photo with the faculty members who “hooded” them (note the blue front collars of the students’ attire).


New Ph.D. recipients (all of whom are in the front row of the photo) are:

  • Anuradha Sastry (second from left), hooded by Dr. Elizabeth Trejos (first-row, leftmost). Congrats also to Dr. Sybil Hart, who was Anuradha’s dissertation chair, but was unable to attend.
  • Shu Yuan (third from left), hooded by her co-chair Dr. Dana Weiser (first-row, rightmost). Shu’s other co-chair was Dr. Miriam Mulsow (back-row, rightmost).
  • Dan Fang (fourth from left), hooded by Dr. Michael O’Boyle (back-row, middle).
  • Satabdi Samtani (second from right), hooded by her co-chairs Dr. Mulsow and Dr. Alan Reifman (back-row, leftmost).

Also within the Graduate School Commencement, Chinagorom Duru received her Master’s degree.


Late fall is also a busy time for professional conferences pertaining to HDFS, with the National Council on Family RelationsGerontological Society of America, and American Society of Criminology all meeting in November. The following photo shows Dr. Trejos (left) with three of her students at the ASC meeting.


Clockwise from Dr. Trejos are Phuong Le, Manju Chawla, and Sherley Bedore.


Happy Holidays from HDFS!

Categories: Faculty, Graduate Students, Graduate-Degree Alumni, Research

Lane Powell (1941-2016)


Lane Powell, instructor, administrator, and champion of family-life education, has died of pancreatic cancer. With her bubbly personality and booming Southern-accented voice, she was an unforgettable figure.

Lane received her Ph.D. in 1984 at Texas Tech, with a dissertation entitled “Evaluation of a church-based sexuality program for adolescents.” This research was published a year later in the journal Family Relations, with committee-chair Steve Jorgensen as co-author  (Powell & Jorgensen, 1985). Lane then followed a sequence that would take her to Birmingham, Alabama, back to Lubbock, and then back to Birmingham.

In 2007, Lane received the Meritorious Service to Families Award from the National Council on Family Relations, the leading professional society in the family-studies discipline. The university’s article on Lane’s award captured much of her career:

Powell was honored for her work as department chair at Samford University in Birmingham, Ala., where she developed the Human Development and Family Studies academic program and oversaw the construction of the Children’s Research and Development Center there from 1985-1999. Powell was also cited for her authorship of the first undergraduate textbook in Family Life Education and for her work as a group facilitator couple along with her husband [Bob] in the Association for Couples in Marriage Enrichment for more than 25 years.

Now in her 10th year as a faculty member at Texas Tech, Powell continues to build on her work at Samford University. She has been an advisor to the Texas Tech Council on Family Relations, which has won awards as a student professional affiliate, for seven years and she is also the certification advisor for the Certified Family Life Educator Program and a career advising specialist.

During Lane’s second stint at Texas Tech (approximately 1999-2013), she taught courses in HDFS and served in an administrative role created specially for her by then-Department Chair Dean Busby, namely Assistant Department Chair to work with the HDFS Associate Chair.

As noted above, Lane and her husband Bob were active in marriage-enrichment education. Part of this involved leading workshops for couples. In addition, Lane and Bob were highly sought-after guests in HDFS courses. Dr. Sylvia Niehuis regularly invited Lane and Bob to speak in her course on Partnering: The Development of Intimate Relationships (HDFS 2322). Lane and Bob would discuss their own marriage, as well as offer insights on healthy marriages.

“The students loved them,” said Dr. Niehuis. “They adored them, and so did I.”

If one goes to the website of the local newspaper, the Lubbock Avalanche-Journal, and types “Lane Powell” (with quotation marks) into the search field, one will find 41 archived articles detailing her extensive educational contributions and community involvement. Lane and Bob were also ardent fans of Lady Raiders basketball.

Ultimately, Lane and Bob moved back to Birmingham in retirement, which included international travel, time spent with their children and grandchildren, and continued attendance by Lane at the annual NCFR conference (most recently in 2015 in Vancouver).

Lane and Bob’s daughter Sharon Powell, a Ph.D. recipient from the University of Minnesota, continues to carry the torch for family education and outreach.

Categories: Faculty, Outreach, Teaching

Awards and Honors to HDFS Faculty and Students (Early Fall 2016)

The Fall 2016 semester is only a few weeks old, but several faculty and students have already received professional awards and honors of various kinds:

  • Dr. Malinda Colwell and Child Development Research Center (CDRC) director Stacy Johnson were profiled in the university publication Texas Tech Today, for their work with other colleagues in the College of Human Sciences on improving the education of children in Malawi, Africa. The HDFS Blog first reported in 2013 on the efforts of Dr. Colwell and graduate student Holly Wright in Malawi.
  • Dr. Sylvia Niehuis has been invited to serve on the editorial board of the Journal of Family Theory & Review. This journal is one of the flagship publications of the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR).
  • Rebecca Oldham has been selected as the College of Human Sciences’ Graduate Student of the Month for October 2016. A profile of Rebecca will appear on this archive of honorees on or around October 1.
  • Dr. Elizabeth Sharp will receive the NCFR’s 2016 Anselm Strauss Award for innovation in family qualitative research, at the organization’s annual meeting in November. Dr. Sharp is also the new associate department chair, replacing Dr. Alan Reifman, who served in the post for the past six years. The associate chair mainly oversees the HDFS undergraduate curriculum.
  • Dr. Elizabeth Trejos-Castillo is only days away from officially being inducted into the Texas Tech Teaching Academy (click here for brief profiles of incoming members). The Teaching Academy honors faculty on campus for their effectiveness, creativity, and commitment in the teaching domain.
  • Dr. Dana Weiser was quoted in Redbook magazine, in an article on the satisfaction of single women in their 30s.
Categories: Faculty, Graduate Students, Research, Staff, Teaching

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