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

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

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 Relations, Gerontological 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

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

Mid-Summer 2016 Updates

Paulina Velez-Gomez, who received her Ph.D. in the recent May graduation, was awarded second place in the social sciences in the TTU Graduate School’s Outstanding Dissertation competition. Dr. Nancy Bell, who is now retired after 42 years at the university, served as Paulina’s advisor.

The research of Dr. Malinda Colwell and her colleagues, evaluating the impact of the PBS children’s television show “Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood,” has been featured in the university publication Texas Tech Today.

Jackie (Wiersma) Mosley, who received her Ph.D. with us in 2008, received tenure and promotion to Associate Professor at the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville, this past spring.

Dr. Elizabeth Sharp is the new Associate Department Chair in HDFS. The Associate Chair mainly oversees the undegraduate curriculum. She replaces Dr. Alan Reifman, who held the position for the previous six years and will go back to being a “regular” professor.

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

HDFS Faculty, Grad Students, and Undergrads Receive Honors (Spring 2016)

2016 TTU awards convoc

The Spring 2016 semester is now over, except for a few more days of final exams. It’s been a very rewarding semester, as numerous HDFS faculty members and students have received various forms of accolades and recognition. Here’s a list:


As shown in the above photos, Drs. Sybil Hart (left) and Jacki Fitzpatrick (right) received awards at the annual TTU Faculty Honors Convocation on April 21. Interim President John Opperman is shown presenting the awards. Dr. Hart received the Barnie E. Rushing, Jr., Faculty Distinguished Research Award (Social Science, Humanities, and Creative Arts division), whereas Dr. Fitzpatrick was the College of Human Sciences’ recipient of the President’s Excellence in Teaching Award.

The newly named “Nancy J. Bell Graduate Faculty Excellence in Mentoring Award” honors Dr. Bell, upon her retirement after 42 years at Texas Tech. The award will be given to a TTU faculty member every year.

Also recognized for her work with students was Dr. Sylvia Niehuis, winner of the  Outstanding Faculty Mentor Award from the Center for Active Learning and Undergraduate Engagement (CALUE).

Dr. Elizabeth Trejos-Castillo was featured in the Texas Tech Today online newsletter in regard to her sex-education curriculum (also featuring graduate student Nancy Trevino Schafer).

Dr. Yvonne Caldera was also recognized in Texas Tech Today for her book, Mexican American Children and Families. Dr. Caldera was co-editor of the book and contributed three chapters to it.

Dr. Michael O’Boyle and Dr. Trejos will be conducting fMRI brain scans of youth exposed to violence in Colombia, based on a research grant from that country. The two will be collaborating with Drs. Mauricio Barrera and Lilliana Calderon, who have been visiting at Texas Tech this semester.

Dr. Dana Weiser received the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) Innovative Teaching Award. Dr. Weiser’s award was based on projects in her graduate human-sexuality course, in which graduate students developed and distributed information on practicing safe and consensual sex. SPSSI’s list of winners of this award (to which the 2016 results should soon be added) is available here, whereas a Daily Toreador article on Dr. Weiser’s class activity is available here.


Several students took home prizes at the annual Graduate Research Poster Competition: Rebecca Oldham, first-place, and Ivette Noriega, runner-up, in the Families & Relationships category; and Manju Chawla, runner-up in the Investigating Behavior & Control category.

Rebecca Oldham also received the  Helen Devitt Jones Excellence in Graduate Teaching Award.

Undergraduate students elected to Texas Tech’s chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation’s oldest academic honor society, are asked to name influential professors/instructors in students’ academic and intellectual development. HDFS graduate instructor Desiree Walisky was among those recognized by student inductees.


At the Center for Active Learning and Undergraduate Engagement (CALUE) Undergraduate Research Conference, two students from Dr. Niehuis’s lab, Kristen Ginste and Orlando Parales, were recognized as Top Poster Presenters in the Social Sciences. Kristen also won Honorable Mention for Outstanding Undergraduate Researcher overall. Benjamin Finlayson, who worked with Dr. Elizabeth Sharp, received a Top Poster Presenter award in the Humanities.

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

Film Series and Colloquium Talks (Spring 2016)

A film series now in its third semester and a brand-new program of colloquium speakers highlight this semester’s cultural and research activities for the HDFS department and the larger community.

The Sexism in Cinema series, which “considers how sexism is embedded, endorsed, and/or challenged in the cinema,” features a monthly film screening followed by discussion. Admission is only $3 for each film. The series is sponsored by several TTU programs and among the co-organizers are HDFS faculty members Dr. Elizabeth Sharp and Dr. Dana Weiser. Click here for the Spring 2016 schedule and further details.

The colloquium marks the first time in recent decades (if not, ever) that HDFS has put together a slate of speakers entirely from outside our department. Speakers, with the titles and dates of their talks, are listed in the flyer below. The talks will be held in Human Sciences Room 102 from 3:30-5:00 on the listed dates.

colloq flyer

The colloquium series was organized by a committee consisting of Dr. Sharp, Dr. Jacki Fitzpatrick, and graduate student Miriam Lieway.

Categories: Faculty, Graduate Students, Outreach, Research

HDFS Faculty’s Recent Grant Receipt

Several Texas Tech HDFS faculty members (shown in bold below) have recently been awarded research grants to conduct their studies. These awards are from both internal (Texas Tech) and external (federal-government and private-foundation) sources.

  • Michael Escamilla (Principal Investigator), Michael O’Boyle (co-PI) & Hugo Sandoval. “Assessment of biomarkers for youth at risk for Bipolar Disorder (Type 1) using functional Magnetic Resonance Imaging (fMRI),” funded by the TTU Presidential Collaborative Research Grants Program.
  • Sylvia Niehuis (PI) & Ireland, M. (Co-PI). “A language-style-matching X person model of engagement/disengagement in spouses’ courtship interviews,” funded by the TTU Scholarship Catalyst Program.
  • Alan Reifman (PI) & Sylvia Niehuis (co-PI). “Analyzing fMRI data from studies of romantic relationships,” funded by the TTU Scholarship Catalyst Program.
  • Yoojin Chae (PI). “The roles of authenticity and attachment in children’s attention and memory,” funded by the Amini Foundation for the Study of Affects.
  • Elizabeth Trejos (PI), Ann Mastergeorge (co-PI) & Andrea Jackowski. “Incidence and effects of toxic stress on neurodevelopmental, cognitive and socioemotional outcomes in children and adolescents: A cross-national comparative collaboration,” funded by the Sao Paulo Researchers in International Collaboration (SPRINT, Brasil).
  • Melissa Barnett (PI), Ann Mastergeorge (co-PI) & Christine Cutshaw. “Child care factors that influence parental engagement: Understanding longitudinal pathways to children’s school readiness,” funded by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families.
Categories: Faculty, Research

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