HDFS Department Research Projects

A sample of research projects in progress in the department. For a more detailed description of faculty research interests and projects, see the individual bios of HDFS Faculty.

Families and Communities in Transition (FACT)

Dr. Rukmalie Jayakody

  • Designed to examine the impact of television on population health and how technological changes impact communities, families, and individuals.
  • Uses a randomized design where 14 unelectrified villages are randomly assigned to either treatment or control status. After baseline data collection, treatment villages will receive television while control villages will not.
  • This research is highly significant as it will deliver the most rigorous assessments to date on television’s causal impacts on familial attitudes and behaviors. It is highly innovative in its reliance on an experimental design, its focus on the pathways through which effects might occur, its integration of multiple quantitative and qualitative data collection approaches (e.g., ethnography, survey research, content analysis, geographic information analysis), and its international and interdisciplinary research team. This large experiment has sufficient statistical power to detect potential effects (14 villages with approximately 4,000 respondents) and will advance our understanding on the causes of family change and the social impacts of mass media.

Read more about Families and Communities in Transition.

British Cohort Studies

Dr. Jennifer L. Maggs

  • Examines the consequences of heavy alcohol use during adolescence from adult status attainment, romantic relationship formation and dissolution, adult substance use and crime
  • Uses long-term longitudinal data from the National Child Development Study and the British Cohort Study 1970
  • Funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Read more about the British Cohort Studies

The University Life Study

Dr. Jennifer L. Maggs

  • Designed to examine links between motivations, daily activities, college experiences, and risk behaviors (including alcohol use, sexual behavior, other substance use, and gambling) among university students
  • Uses web-based data collection, which launched in fall 2007 with over 725 African American, Asian American, European American, and Hispanic/Latino American first-year students
  • Funded by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Read more about the University Life Study

The Daily Stress and Health Study (DASH)

P.I.: Dr. Steven Zarit
Seeking graduate student researchers

  • Seeks to better understand the stresses that caregivers experience and how Adult Day Service use may protect them from the harmful effects of care-related stress on their health
  • Examines daily stress, well-being, and health symptoms in family caregivers of people with dementia, and compares their functioning on days when their relatives are in ADS to when they are not
  • Funded by the National Institute on Aging

Read more about the Daily Stress and Health Study

Project SIESTA (Study of Infants’ Emergent Sleep Trajectories)

Dr. Douglas M. Teti
Seeking graduate student researchers

  • A longitudinal study looking at linkages between infant sleep quality during the first two years and infant, how parenting of infants at bedtime and night time (from video-recordings), and the the role of parenting in predicting infant developmental outcomes and infant stress reactivity
  • Funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Read more about Project SIESTA

Project Touch

Dr. Douglas M. Teti
Seeking graduate student researchers

  • Tests whether a program of cue-directed tactile stimulation (CDTS) reduces the stress reactivity (salivary cortisol) of premature infants
  • Assesses intervention effects on mothers’ perceptions of their infants’ temperaments and of themselves as mothers, on infant heart rates and vagal tone, and on infant weight, head circumference, and length.

Read more about Project Touch

Minds of Mothers Study (MOMS)

Dr. Douglas M. Teti
Seeking graduate student researchers

  • Examines patterns of electroencephalographic (EEG) and event related potential (ERP) responding in mothers and infants, which may index patterns of emotion regulation in mothers in the context of parenting.

Read more about the Minds of Mothers Study

Dopamine and ADHD

Dr. Lisa Gatzke-Kopp; Child Brain Development Lab
Seeking graduate student researchers

  • Seeks to understand more about heterogeneity in the underlying deficits of children with ADHD, and how these deficits interact with family dynamics
  • Assesses children who are currently medicated for ADHD, both on and off their medication, using EEG, ERP, cardiac, and electrodermal psychophysiological measures

Read more about Dopamine and ADHD

Violence Prevention

Dr. Lisa Gatzke-Kopp; Child Brain Development Lab
Seeking graduate student researchers

  • Assesses the effectiveness of an aggressive behavior intervention in children in kindergarten
  • Uses physiological data (EEG, ERP, cardiac and electrodermal measures)

Read more about Violence Prevention

The Workplace Practices and Daily Family Well-Being Project

Dr. David Almeida
Seeking graduate student researchers

  • Uses daily diary interviews to study how both employees and their families are affected by an employer-initiated workplace program designed to improve employee flexibility
  • Examines daily family processes and health, as well as psychological and physical health of employees' children, family setting temporal arrangements, and family resources
  • Is part of the Work, Family & Health Network (WFHN), which is comprised of eight research organizations conducting studies on how best to improve the health of workers and their families and reduce work-family conflict, while also benefiting the organizations
  • Funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the National Institute on Aging, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the William T. Grant Foundation, and the Administration for Children and Families

Read more about the Workplace Practices and Daily Family Well-Being Project

Promoting Positive Sibling Relationships in Middle Childhood Through the Siblings are Special Program

Co-P.I.'s: Dr. Mark Feinberg and Dr. Susan McHale
Seeking graduate student researchers

  • Aims to help siblings learn skills and attitudes that will lead to more support and cooperation and less conflict in sibling relationships, using measures of self-reports and videotaped observations that assess family relationships and youth’s psychosocial adjustment
  • Uses Siblings Are Special, a twelve-session after-school program for siblings in second through fifth grade
  • Funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse

Read more about Promoting Positive Sibling Relationships in Middle Childhood Through the Siblings are Special Program

Training Interdisciplinary Education Scientists (TIES) program

Program co-directors: Dr. Tom Farmer and Dr. Karen Bierman
Seeking graduate student researchers

  • An interdisciplinary doctoral training program in school-based educational research, designed to prepare fellows with expertise in the development and evaluation of interventions aimed at promoting literacy and social/emotional competence
  • Funded by the Institute of Education Sciences

Read more about the Training Interdisciplinary Education Scientists (TIES) program

The Infant and Child Temperament Lab

Dr. Cynthia Stifter; Infant and Child Temperament Lab

  • Investigates the development and outcomes of infant emotion regulation

Read more about the studies going on in the Infant and Child Temperament Lab

Multilevel ARMA and Dynamic Models for the Longitudinal Study of Human Interactions

P.I.: Dr. Michael J. Rovine

  • Adapts, extends, and, develops new time series methods for use in developmental research and the study of human interactions
  • Currently analyzing data from the Infant and Child Temperament Study related to infant’s self regulation of emotion and parent-infant interaction related to the parents ability to soothe a distressed child

Read more about Multilevel ARMA and Dynamic Models for the Longitudinal Study of Human Interactions

Family Relationships Project

Dr. Susan McHale and Dr. Nan Crouter

  • A set of studies that seeks to understand the family context of socialization in middle childhood and adolescence
  • Funded by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Read more about the Family Relationships Project

Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development

Dr. Mark Greenberg (Director), Dr. Ed Smith (Associate Director), and Dr. Celene Domitrovich (Assistant Director)

  • An interdisciplinary research center in the College of Health and Human Development that focuses on longitudinal, developmental research on risk

Read more about current projects in the Prevention Research Center

Capital Area Early Childhood Training Institute

Dr. Richard Fiene (Director)

  • Improves quality care for young children by developing, providing, and coordinating a wide variety of professional development opportunities in south-central Pennsylvania

Read more about the Capital Area Early Childhood Training Institute