Gerontological Society of America Annual Meeting

Many HDFS students and faculty will be attending the GSA 2015 meeting in Orlando, Florida on November 18-22. Take a look at what they are presenting!

GSA Annual Meeting Presenters

Graduate Students Funded

Nicole DePasquale (HDFS graduate student). Nicole received an F31, Pre-doctoral Fellowship, titled "Family Caregiving Transitions and Sleep among Double- and Triple-Duty Caregivers," funded by the National Institutes of Health. Nicole is co-advised by Dave Almeida and Steve Zarit. Nicole is also the recipient of the Grace M. Henderson Graduate Scholarship which recognizes students who "exemplify the qualities of a scholar, show professional promise and have a dedicated interest in human service." You can learn more about Nicole on her website,

Megan Maas (HDFS graduate student). Megan received an F31, Pre-doctoral Fellowship, titled "HIV and Substance Use Prevention Among Maltreated and Non-Maltreated Female Adolescents," funded by the National Institutes of Health. Megan is supervised by Jennie Noll. Megan is also the recipient of the Ruth W. Ayres-Givens Scholarship, which recognizes students who "demonstrate the desire and insight to make a contribution to society and engage in work that fosters interdisciplinary connections and use their skills for the benefit of the public and in developing innovative ideas." You can learn more about Megan on her website,

Congratulations to Nicole and Megan!

Kligman Fellowship Award

Rachel Abenavoli (HDFS graduate student) is the recipient of the Kligman Graduate Fellowship for 2015/2016. Rachel has had an impressive career already, with 8 publications and more than 20 presentations at the time of her application. Rachel's dissertation will examine the influence of school readiness and school context on behavioral and academic skills in the early elementary school years. Mark Greenberg serves as Rachel's adviser. Congratulations, Rachel!!

Peterson Prevention Research Fellowship

Congratulations to Kristine Bova and Deirdra Hon, HDFS graduate students, who have recieved a Peterson Prevention Research Fellowship through the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center for the 2015-16 academic year. Congratulations Kristine and Dierdra!!

PAMT Pre-Doctoral Fellowship

Congratulations to Emily Waterman, HDFS graduate student, who was selected as a PAMT pre-doctoral fellow. This oppportunity is a a two year fellowship in Prevention and Methodology. Congratulations Emily!!

Graduate School Research Exhibition

Congratulations to Jon Reader​, HDFS graduate student, who won second place at the Penn State Graduate School Research Exhibition in the Social & Behavioral Sciences Division. Doug Teti is Jon's adviser. Jon's presentation was titled, Negative Life Events and Associations with Marital Quality Across the First Two Years of Parenthood. Great work Jon!

SRCD 2015

Penn State HDFS faculty and graduate students are presenting 68 posters and papers at the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD) Biennial meeting in Philadelphia in March 2015. See the list of SRCD presentations at the select presentations by graduate students page.

Susan McHale is Named Distinguished Professor

Susan McHale, Director of the Social Science Research Institute, was named a Penn State distinguished professor by the Office of the Vice Provost for Academic Affairs. The honor is awarded to active full-time faculty members who are acknowledged leaders in their field of research.

Dr. McHale, in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies, has been a leader in the social and behavioral sciences at Penn State for more than 30 years. She has directed the SSRI since 2007, overseeing a significant expansion of the Institute during this time. Her research focuses on family relationships, specifically sibling dynamics and the roles of children and adolescents. She received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

Congratulations Dr. McHale!

Graduate Students Awarded

Stephanie Wilson was selected as a recipient of the Alumni Association Dissertation Award for 2014-15. Stephanie's accomplishments are impressive -- at the time of the application, Stephanie had 8 published or accepted manuscripts and book chapters, and 19 presentations. In her dissertation, she is examining couple's interactions and health in the context of chronic pain. Congratulations Stephanie!

Congratulations to Lauren Philbrook, recipient of the Harold F. Martin Graduate Assistant Outstanding Teaching Award for 2014-15. Lauren has been an outstanding teaching assistant within the department, as well as serving as an instructor for 229 and 312W in several summers. What a great accomplishment!

Health and Human Development recognizes teaching excellence in HDFS

The College of Health and Human Development (HHD) values excellence in teaching. Through a review of Student Rating of Teaching Effectiveness scores, student comments and input from others in HHD, the Teaching Excellence Award recognizes some of our best faculty for their hard work and dedication to undergraduate teaching and learning. Read more.

25 Year Awards

Sherry Corneal and Donna Bitner both were honored recently for their 25 years of service to Penn State. Sherry has been teaching in HDFS for all 25 years and is currently an Associate Professor. Donna has been with HDFS for 26 years and is currently the Assistant to the Department Head. Congratulations Donna and Sherry!

Adult daycare helps caregivers’ emotional stability

Caregivers who employ adult daycare services to help care for individuals with dementia have fewer emotional ups and downs, and that may protect the caregivers’ health, according to Penn State researchers.

A study that investigated emotional fluctuations in caregivers of individuals with dementia by researchers in the College of Health and Human Development has been published in the journal Health Psychology. Yin Liu, a doctoral candidate, is the first author. Additional authors include Steven H. Zarit, distinguished professor of human development and family studies (HDFS); David M. Almeida, professor of human development and family studies; and Kyungmin Kim, postdoctoral scholar.

The study examined associations between fluctuation in daily negative affect (i.e., depression and anger) and use of adult daycare, daily experiences, and other caregiving characteristics. Read more about the paper, "Daily Fluctuation in Negative Affect for Family Caregivers of Individuals with Dementia."

GSA 2014

Wow, take a look at the HDFS faculty and graduate students (current and past) presenting at GSA this year!!

Fellowship Recipient

Stephanie Wilson is the recipient of the Britton Fellowship for 2014-15. This award is given to an outstanding graduate student in the study and research of adult development and aging. Congratulations, Stephanie!!

Graduate Students Awarded

Brandon McDaniel is the recipient of a CHHD Graduate Research Endowment and the Wholwill Endowment Dissertation Research Award. Brandon has also recieved a travel grant and top poster award from the Society for Prevention Research.

Allison Doub received the National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship.

David Lydon received a NIDA-sponsored Early Career Investigator Poster Session/Travel Award in conjunction with APA Division 28 and 50. He will present some of his findings on using network analysis to examine the perceived causal structures of nicotine addiction at the conference in August.

Nicole Roberts was awarded a SEED Grant to be the PI on a new study examining reward sensitivity, impulsivity, and habituation in healthy weight and overweight adolescents. The SEED Grant award was through the COPT program.

Courtney Polenick received the Joseph and Jean Britton Distinguished Graduate Fellowship in the College of HHD during the 2013-2014 year.

Grace Henderson Scholarship Awarded

Congratulations to Jacqui Miller, the recipient of the 2014-2015 Grace Henderson scholarship, recognizing a student who shows professional promise and has a dedicated interest in human service. Jacqui continues to exemplify these characteristics in her graduate program work. Her dissertation will examine issues of sexual coercion toward boys in South Africa. In particular, she is examining the context and consequences of this sexual coercion and how enhancing the school environment can impact school sexual climate and coercion, Finally, Jacqui has demonstrated professional promise through incredible productivity during graduate school. Congratulations Jacqui!

Fellowship Awarded

Kathrine Bamberger, HDFS graduate students, has been awarded an F31 NIH Fellowship. The title of her research is, "Family Engagement and Change Process During Substance Abuse Prevention for Youth." Congratulations Katie!!

Publication News

One of the top 10 downloaded articles from Child Development Perspectives in 2013-- 2,015 downloads! Alexis Harris is a graduate student in HDFS.

Greenberg, M. T., & Harris, A. R. (2012). Nurturing mindfulness in children and youth: Current state of research. Child Development Perspectives, 6, 161-166.
Link to article:

Award for Excellence in Research

HDFS undergraduate student, Kenya Crawford, has won the Peter T. Luckie Award for Excellence in Research. Kenya works with Susan McHale on "Longitudinal Links between Family Experiences and Perceived Romantic Competence in Adolescence and Young Adulthood." Congratulations Kenya, on her outstanding accomplishments!

Graduate Research Exhibition Award Winner

Kameron Moding, graduate student in HDFS, won second place in the Social & Behavioral Sciences category at the Graduate Exhibition. Her poster wast titled, "Infants’ acceptance of green vegetables and fruits show differential effects on weight change." Kameron's adviser is Cynthia Stifter. Congratulations Kameron!!

Allison Doub-- NSF award

Allison Doub has been selected to receive a 2014 National Science Foundation (NSF) Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) Fellowship. The selection was based on outstanding abilities and accomplishments, as well as potential to contribute to strengthening the vitality of the US science and engineering enterprise. Congratulations to Alli on your selection as an NSF Graduate Fellow. We wish you success in your graduate studies and continued success in achieving your career aspirations!!