Meet Monica Martin, Our Newest Faculty Member

The Texas Tech HDFS faculty is expanding by two members this year, Monica Martin and Zhe Wang. Monica has arrived and begun teaching for us in the Fall semester. Below, we introduce her via a brief Q&A. Zhe will not be joining us until January, so we’ll save her introduction until then.

Before arriving in Lubbock, Monica traveled to Europe over the summer, as shown in the following photo. “It is the town square of Delft, a city in the Netherlands. I went to a symposium in Amsterdam in June and spent a little bit of time exploring,” she said. The rest of the interview appears below the photo.


Tell us about yourself.

I was born in California, grew up in the Pacific Northwest and – until now — had always lived on the West Coast. Before coming to Texas Tech University, I worked as a research scientist on several National Institutes of Health funded studies at the Family Research Group in the Department of Human Ecology at the University of California, Davis.

What are your research interests?

My research examines the influence of economic disadvantage on the emotional and behavioral health of youth and families. I primarily study behavioral health involving problem behaviors that negatively influence health and well-being such as delinquency, antisocial behavior, and substance use and abuse. Much of my work examines the family processes through which economic hardship impacts families and individuals across time and multiple generations of family members.

What will you be teaching in the Fall?

HDFS 6363 (Advanced Topics in HD), a graduate seminar on poverty, risk and resilience.

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

I am looking forward to continuing my research program examining the ways in which economic disadvantage influences families and youth. I am also looking forward to collaborating with faculty and involving students in this and other research.

How are you adjusting to Lubbock thus far?

I am adjusting well. Summer in Lubbock is surprisingly similar to Sacramento, although I think the winters will take some getting used to. I have been enjoying the BBQ here and am looking forward to exploring Lubbock further.

What do you like to do outside of school?

I enjoy playing board games, reading mystery novels, spending time with my husband, and would like to travel more frequently.

Categories: Faculty, Welcome

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 CompetitionRebecca 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

Fall 2015 Semester in Review

Another semester is in the books. In addition to doing our usual academic work and holding job searches that we expect to bring two new faculty members to our department by next fall, HDFS graduate students and faculty took time out to help others and to have fun on a bowling night.

According to Dr. Stephanie Shine, HDFS Early Childhood program director, graduate students in the Texas Tech affiliate of the National Council on Family Relations (Tech CFR) “conducted a gift drive in the college for TTU Early Head Start and got beautiful gifts for 66 children.”

Students pictured above wrapping presents include Jennifer Harris, Yang Liu, Andrea Parker, Diane Wittie, and Shu Yuan, along with our office assistant Jennifer Holland. Thanks to Holly Babbitt, our new graduate administrative secretary, for the photos of the wrapping process!

The following photos (posted with parental permission) show children receiving their gifts.


Earlier in the semester, HDFS faculty and grad students hit the lanes at Main Event Entertainment.

bowling ann-mal-rebLeft to right, new chair Dr. Ann Mastergeorge, Dr. Malinda Colwell, and Rebecca Oldham illustrate the stages of roll delivery.

bowling sharp-shupe-kareem-manjuDr. Elizabeth “Strikethrower” Sharp (light-blue sweater) lets one go, whereas Kareem Al-Khalil (upper-right) gets ready to do the same. Also seen in these pictures are Rick Shupe (behind Elizabeth), Manju Chawla, and Stacy Johnson (lane closest to wall).

bowling ann & others

Left to right watching the action are Andrea Parker, Rebecca Oldham, Yang Liu, and Drs. Colwell and Mastergeorge.

bowling conversations

Clockwise from upper-left, Drs. Wonjung Oh and Elizabeth Trejos-Castillo; Yang Liu, Dr. Sharp, and Dr. Dana Weiser;  Dr. Alan Reifman; and Manju and Rebecca, with Shu in the background.

bowling big group photoFinally, left to right, we have Manju, Andrea, Ann, Holly Wright, Shu, Dan Fang, Rebecca, Wonjung, and Stacy.

Categories: Faculty, Graduate Students, Outreach

NCFR 2015 in Vancouver

vancouver skyline

Several Texas Tech HDFS faculty and graduate students ventured up to the Great Northwest — Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada, specifically — for the annual conference of the National Conference on Family Relations (NCFR) in mid-November. The distant mountains were clouded over and it rained much of the time, but there was no figurative dampening of people’s spirit!

One of the highlights for the Texas Tech group was Dr. Elizabeth Sharp’s receipt of the  Alexis J. Walker  Award for Mid-Career Achievement in Feminist Family Studies, captured in this linked photo from the official NCFR website. Elizabeth is shown in the following montage with (clockwise from upper-left) Dr. Shannon Weaver (a graduate-school colleague of Elizabeth’s at Missouri); Andrea Roets Swenson (a former TTU graduate student); a visitor to our department’s table at the universities’ reception; and Dr. Anisa Zvonkovic (a former faculty colleague at Texas Tech).


Dean Linda Hoover of Texas Tech’s College of Human Sciences (right, shown with Dr. Jean Scott) traveled to Vancouver to host a reception in honor of Elizabeth’s award.


The upper-left photograph in the next montage shows (left to right)  HDFS graduate students Rebecca Oldham, Ivette Noriega, and Jennifer Lindsey, and Dr. Dana Weiser. The lower-right photo shows Andrea, two Ph.D. recipients from our program, Jeremy Boden and Jennifer Rojas-McWhinney (both seated), and a visitor.

small groups

Our new HDFS department chairperson, Ann Mastergeorge (left) chats with, among others, Elizabeth’s graduate advisor, Larry Ganong (right), from Missouri.


Finally, we have a group shot with Ivette, Rebecca, Dr. Sharp, Jennifer, Satabdi Samtani (grad student), and Dr. Weiser.


On various people’s shirts and lapels, an orange button may be seen with the expression “E#.” In musical terminology, this would represent “E Sharp,” thus serving as a nickname for Elizabeth. In actuality, there is no such musical note as “E#,” but why let that detract from a great nickname?

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

Award to Dr. Sylvia Niehuis

Dr. Sylvia Niehuis was among only five recipients on the entire Texas Tech campus of the 2015 Mortar Board and Omicron Delta Kappa Faculty Recognition Award. According to the award notification, “This is a student nominated award based on the outstanding qualities of the faculty in and out of the classroom.” Dr. Niehuis received the award at a reception on November 12 in the McKenzie-Merket Alumni Center. In the following photo, Maria Maza (left) presents the award to Dr. Niehuis. (Maria and Jessica Corder oversaw the award-nomination process.)

sylvia award

Categories: Faculty, Teaching

Fall 2015 Mid-Semester Notes

  • Several people from our department participated in the recent Society for the Study of Human Development conference in Austin, Texas. SSHD is a relatively small association that, in contrast to the many organizations in our field that concentrate on specific age groups (e.g., infancy, childhood, adolescence, old age), features studies on any part of the lifespan. The following photo shows two of our graduate students who attended, Paulina Velez and John Purcell (right), visiting with Tufts University professor, Richard Lerner, a prominent scholar in areas such as applied developmental science and child and adolescent temperament. Presentations from Texas Tech faculty and students are listed in the conference program.

SSHD 2015

  • It was announced that Dr. Elizabeth Sharp will receive the Alexis J. Walker Award for Mid-Career Achievement in Feminist Family Studies at next month’s annual meeting of the National Council on Family Relations, in Vancouver. As always, we’ll have extensive coverage of the NCFR conference, including Dr. Sharp’s award.
  • Each October, we have three opportunities to reach out to current and prospective Texas Tech undergraduates about majoring or minoring in HDFS. These opportunities come at the South Plains Career Expo for area high school students; the Texas Tech Preview for prospective students and their families; and the Majors and Minors (M & M) Fair for students already attending Texas Tech, who are either undecided on a field of study or are considering a switch. These events are now complete. For the first time, we had an Outreach Committee of faculty and instructors who staffed our table at these events: Mitzi Ziegner (committee chair), Dr. Alan Reifman (associate department chair), Dr. Stephanie Shine (Early Childhood program director), and Drs. Zhen Cong, Miriam Mulsow, and Dana Weiser. In the first photo below, Drs. Reifman and Cong stand in front of our new HDFS banner at yesterday’s M & M Fair. The second photo shows a little game we created for the 2014 Career Expo, in which statistics from the New York Times (“How Many Households Are Like Yours?“) were used to make cards showing different family structures and students were invited to guess how common each family form was in the U.S.

mm fair ttu

career expo blurred

Categories: Faculty, Graduate Students, Research, Undergraduate Students

Early Fall (2015) Briefs

Here are a few brief items as we settle into another academic year:

  • Dr. Jacki Fitzpatrick was among three recipients of the Lawrence Schovanec Teaching Development Scholarship, out of 17 candidates. The award, honoring the current TTU provost (chief academic officer), provides funding for faculty members to attend a teaching-oriented conference.
  • Dr. Elizabeth Sharp will be giving a webinar on September 30, as part of the National Council on Family Relations’ (NCFR) series on qualitative analysis. Her presentation is entitled “Foregrounding Space and Affect in Qualitative Data Collection — Walking Interviews and Emotion Mapping.”  Further information is available at this link.
  • Dr. Sybil Hart has a new monograph out, entitled Jealousy in Infants: Laboratory Research on Differential Treatment (link).
Categories: Faculty, Research, Teaching

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