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!!

Harriet Darling Honored

Dr. Harriet Darling, HDFS senior instructor at York Campus, was named as one of the "Top 25 Extraordinary Women in York County" by the YWCA of York. The criteria used in the selection of those honored included, "proactive work to promote the YWCA's mission and principles of eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all." Dr. Darling and other recipients will be honored at a luncheon on March 21, 2014. Congratuations!

Peter Molenaar Wins Award

Peter Molenaar received the Sells Award for Distinguished Mulitvariate Research from the Society of Multivariate Experimental Psychology (SMEP). From the SMEP website: "The Sells Award is given annually to recognize an individual who has made distinguished lifetime achievement in multivariate experimental psychology. This award represents the highest honor bestowed by the Society in recognition of contributions to the field." Congratulations to Peter!

Penn State Student Athletes Honored as Big Ten Distinguished Scholars

Megan Boyer, is one of eight of Penn State's Distinguished Scholar Award recipients who earned a 4.0 grade point average during the 2012-13 academic year: -- Megan, women’s track & field, is a junior in human development & family studies, and is from Millersburg, Pa. Congratulations Megan!

HDFS Alumni Award Winners

Alumni Recognition Award: Patty Hillkirk (HDFS)

Emerging Professional, Undergraduate Degree: Matthew Arch (HDFS)

Emerging Professional, Graduate Degree: Megan Patrick (HDFS)

Undergraduate Student Award Winners

Kristen Boggan has been chosen by the HHD Careers Committee to receive the Student Service Award and will be presented to her on Friday, April 12 at 6:30 p.m. in the Boardroom of the Nittany Lion Inn during the Alumni Society Board's Spring Awards dinner.

The College of Health and Human Development Alumni Society has selected Dayanna Reeves as the recipient of the 2013 Edith Pitt Chace Award. The Alumni Board will recognize Dayanna at their awards dinner on Friday, April 12 at 6:30 in the Boardroom at the Nittany Lion Inn.

National Science Foundation (NSF) Award

Lisa Gatzke-Kopp received a Faculty Early Career Development Award from the National Science Foundation, recognizing exceptional achievement in integrating research and education. Congratulations Lisa!

Dissertation Award Winner (NADSA)

Amanda Leggett (HDFS graduate student) has been awarded the 2012 Beth Meyer-Arnold Dissertation Fellowship from the National Adult Day Services Association (NADSA). Amanda will receive her award at the conference on September 22 in Pittsburgh. Congratulations to Amanda!

College of Health and Human Development Award Winners

Susan McHale-- Russell Dintinguished Research Career Award

Jennifer Maggs-- Pattishall Outstanding Research Award

Jennifer Crissman Ishler-- CHHD Excellence in Teaching Award

Depression may lead mothers to wake babies

Depressed mothers are more likely to needlessly wake up their infants at night than mothers who are not depressed, according to Penn State researchers. "We found that mothers with high depressive symptom levels are more likely to excessively worry about their infants at night than mothers with low symptom levels, and that such mothers were more likely to seek out their babies at night and spend more time with their infants than mothers with low symptom levels," said Douglas M. Teti, associate director of the Social Science Research Institute and professor of human development, psychology and pediatrics. more >>

College of Health and Human Development Alumni Awards

Sarah Kollat, Senior Instructor in HDFS, has won the Faculty Appreciation Award. Alvin Hall, Budget Manager in HDFS, has won the Staff Appreciation Award. The CHHD Alumni Society honors a faculty and staff member who actively promotes relationships among students, faculty, staff, and alumni, above and beyond the demands of his/her job. Congratulations to both Sarah and Alvin!

Generational Changes in Dating

Sara Vasilenko, a postdoctoral fellow in the Prevention Research Center and the Methodology Center, and former HDFS graduate student, has been researching the question, "Is dating fundamentally any different for yourng adults today than in our parents' and grandparents' days?" Read more about her research here....

Undergraduate Student Awards

Lauren Pritchard, HDFS senior, was selected for the Mark A. and Kathryn Snyder Klins Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to an outstanding undergraduate student who has a professional desire to work in the early childhood area upon graduation. Congratulations Lauren!

Beth Carey, HDFS undergraduate student, was selected for the College of Health and Human Development's Alumni Board Life Promise Award. This award is given yearly to a student who has demonstrated progressive and positive growth and whose performance at Penn State manifests continued promise. In addition to academic performance, the winner of this award shows evidence of social maturity, leadership qualities, and a commitment to continued improvement. Congratulations Beth, on this outstanding achievement!

Interventions to reduce risky behavior is the focus of a $2.5 million dollar grant

A $2.5 million grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse will fund the continuation of Penn State's Prevention and Methodology Training (PAMT) program, which focuses on developing interventions to reduce smoking, poor eating habits and risky sexual behavior, among other unhealthy choices.

Beginning in the fall semester this year, the PAMT program will train seven graduate and two post-graduate researchers to develop interventions that promote healthy lifestyles and to apply cutting-edge, statistical research methods to such interventions. The program is a joint effort between two research centers at Penn State, the Prevention Research Center and the Methodology Center, both of which research the prevention of smoking, HIV, substance abuse, and other vital health risks.The program is directed by Mark Greenberg, director of the Prevention Research Center; Linda Collins, director of the Methodology Center; and Edward Smith, associate director of the Prevention Research Center. Read more about it.....

Caregivers and their relatives disagree about care given and received

Caregivers and their relatives who suffer from mild to moderate dementia often have different perceptions regarding the amount and quality of care given and received. A study by researchers at Penn State and the Benjamin Rose Institute on Aging examined a major source of those differences -- caregivers do not understand the things that are important to their relatives with dementia. The study leader is Steven Zarit, professor and head of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. Read more about it......

Adult day care services provide much-neede break to family caregivers

Adult day care services significantly reduce the stress levels of family caregivers of older adults with dementia. The evaluation of stress levels of caregivers using adult day care services found that the use of these services significantly reduce the stress levels of family caregivers of older adults with dementia, "Family members who care for dementia patients are susceptible to experiencing high levels of stress," said Steven Zarit. More about this research can be found here.....

For infant sleep, receptiveness more important than routine

Many parents understand the challenge of getting infants to sleep through the night. New Penn State research shows that being emotionally receptive with infants and toddlers can reduce sleep disruptions and help them sleep better.

"Bed time can be a very emotional time. It heralds the longest separation of the day for most infants," says Dr. Douglas Teti, professor of human development and family studies and lead investigator on the study. "It struck me that going to sleep, and sleeping well, is much easier for some young children than others, and I wanted to assess what factored into this, and what parents and children contribute to sleep patterns." Read more about Teti's study.

A legacy of compassion and leadership continues after retirement

Dr. Fred Vondracek retired on June 30, 2010, after a forty-one-year tenure at Penn State. Now a professor emeritus of human development, Vondracek had a profound impact on the people he worked with and on the University as a whole. He held a multitude of academic leadership roles, helped shape and build a department and a college, broadened Penn State's international reach, and paved the way to improve work-life balance for Penn State employees. Read more about Vondracek and his contributions to Penn State over the years.

Ignoring stress leads recovering addicts to more cravings

Recovering addicts who avoid coping with stress succumb easily to substance use cravings, making them more likely to relapse during recovery, according to behavioral researchers. "Cravings are a strong predictor of relapse," said H. Harrington Cleveland, associate professor of human development, Penn State. Read more about Cleveland's study.

New book explores benefits of collegiate alcohol and drug use recovery communities

Breaking an alcohol addiction is always a challenge, but the dependency may be even more difficult to escape for a young adult at college. A new book edited and co-authored by Dr. H. Harrington "Bo" Cleveland, associate professor of human development and family studies, explores one successful method for facilitating recovery in college students: alcohol recovery campuses. Read more about Cleveland's new book.

Everyone has different risks in a family caregiving relationship

Providing care to a family member with dementia-without having formal training-frequently causes overwhelming stress and sometimes leads to breakdowns or depression. Yet the interventions designed to alleviate this stress are inconsistently effective, which can leave caregivers in isolation to deal with their stresses. Researchers led by Dr. Steven Zarit, head of the department, recently concluded a study that explains why interventions aren't always effective-which has implications for what can be done to improve the health and well-being of individuals in this situation. Read more about Zarit's study.

Many factors contribute to adolescents' decision-making autonomy

Decision making within families is an important way for young people to gain independence and responsibility, and adolescence is a time of increasing autonomy. A longitudinal study by Penn State researchers in the College of Health and Human Development — Laura Wray-Lake, a predoctoral fellow in human development and family studies, Ann Crouter, Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean of the College of Health and Human Development, and Susan McHale, professor of human development -- concludes that teens have more say in certain areas than in others, and that some teens have more autonomy than others. Read more about it.

Soothing infants with food is focus of new childhood obesity study

A new Penn State study, led by Dr. Cynthia Stifter, professor of human development and family studies, will look at whether parents who soothe their infants with food may be putting them at risk for obesity or overweight. The study will also be looking at genetics as a factor for obesity. It is funded by a $1 million grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases as part of the National Institutes of Health's American Recovery and Reinvestment Act funding.

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