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Principal Investigators

Nan Crouter, Ph.D.
Nan CrouterNan is a professor in Penn State's Department of Human Development and Family Studies and also the Raymond E. and Erin Stuart Schultz Dean of the College of Health and Human Development. Nan is interested in the implications of parents' work situations for ongoing family processes, such as housework, parental monitoring, and parent-child involvement, and in turn child and adolescent development.

Susan McHale, Ph.D.
Susan McHaleSusan is a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies also the Director of Social Science Research Institute and the Children, Youth, and Families Consortium. She has focused on issues pertaining to siblings in families including the non-shared family experiences of siblings and their implications for children's and adolescents' development, sibling relationships, and siblings as influences on development.

Kimberly Updegraff, Ph.D.
Kimberly Updegraff is currently an associate professor in the School of Social and Family Dynamics at the Arizona State University. Her research interests focus on the role of family and peer relationships in youth development from early adolescence to young adulthood. Central to her work is understanding the role of gender in adolescents' lives. A second important theme if the role of culture (particular Mexican culture) in the lives of adolescents and their families.

Alan Booth, Ph.D.
Alan BoothAlan is a Distinguished Professor of Sociology, Human Development, and Demography. His research interests center on family processes, such as divorce, changes in marital quality, and alterations in parent-child relationships, and biosocial interactions, such as the joint influence of testosterone and family experiences on social behaviors.

Peter Molenaar, Ph.D.
Peter MolenaarPeter is a professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. His interests lie broadly in research methodology, including structural equational modeling, single-subject time series analysis, and dynamic factor analysis, that helps capture and understand various developmental and disease processes.

Wayne Osgood, Ph.D.
Wayne OsgoodWayne is a professor in Penn State's Department of Sociology Crime, Law, and Justice. Wayne does research on a broad range of topics concerning delinquency and other problem behaviors during adolescence and early adulthood. He is also this project's resident methodologist.

Adriana Umana-Taylor
Adriana Umana-Taylor uses an ecological approach to inform her research, taking into account how individuals and families influence and are influenced by their surrounding ecologies. Her research focuses on ethnic identity formation during adolescence and parent-adolescent relationships.

Postdoctoral Researchers

Bora Lee, Ph.D.
Bora is a post-doctoral researcher in the Human Development and Family Studies program at Penn State University. She is interested in lifespan career development. Her current research focuses on how childhood and adolescence experience predicts occupational choice in young adulthood. Further, she examines the role of parents in the development of work-related goals among children and adolescents.

Graduate Student Researchers

Susan Doughty, M.S.
Susan DoughtySusan is interested in family dynamics, particularly the ways in which they change over time and impact sibling relationships. Her current research focuses on parents’ differential treatment of siblings across time and exploring the ways in which sibling relationships can be improved through intervention.
Jenny Padilla, M.S.
Jenny is interested in family dynamics within larger sociocultural contexts that affect youth well-being. Within the family, she is interested specifically in the role of sibling experiences and relationships in youth development and academic outcomes from early adolescence to young adulthood. Currently, her research examines the potential sociocultural predictors of parents’ differential treatment.

Undergraduate Student Researchers

Kenya Crawford
Kenya Crawford is an undergraduate student majoring in Human Development and Family Studies with minors in Psychology, Sexuality & Gender Studies. Currently her undergraduate thesis focuses on the implications of early family experiences for perceived romantic competence. Kenya is a Ronald E. McNair Scholar who is also interested in the intersectionality between gender, sexuality, and race and social justice for LGBT populations, and LGBT romantic competence.

Recent Project Alumni

Anna Solmeyer, Ph.D.
Anna Solmeyer Anna's interests are in family dynamics, sibling relationships, and family-based prevention/intervention programming. Her research focuses on family relationships and how they function as risk and protective factors in shaping youths' individual development and the practical application of this research.

Christine Stanik, Ph.D.
Christine Stanik
Christine is a post-doctoral researcher in the Human Development and Family Studies program at Penn State University. Her interests lie broadly in the area of romantic relationships and include: sexual satisfaction and relationship stability, gender role dynamics in married and dating couples, within sex variation in romantic partner preferences, cues people use when assessing potential romantic partners, and dynamics in the formation of long-term committed partnerships.

Ian Lam, Ph.D.
Ian LamIan is currently Assistant Professor at the Department of Early Childhood Education, Hong Kong Institute of Education, China. His research orientation lies broadly in gender- and sexuality-related issues. Specifically, he is interested in gendered dynamics within the family (e.g., marital, parent-child, and sibling relationships) and the larger contextual influences on these dynamics.

Beth Riina, Ph.D.
Beth RiinaBeth is an Assistant Professor of Family Studies at Queens College in New York City. She is interested in family processes including the interdependence among family roles, relationships, and activities, the contribution of family processes to positive adolescent development, and the sociocultural context of family dynamics.

Kristen Granger, B.S.
Kristen GrangerKristen is a graduate of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies. Her research interests within the Family Relationship Project include family functioning, parent-child relationships and parent influence on youth social behavior. Her concurrent research involvement focuses on peer relationships and classroom social ecologies.

Catherine Kuhns, B.S.
Catherine KuhnsCatherine is a graduate HDFS major. Her broad interests lie in sibling relationships, birth order, and the family structure as a context for development.

Megan Baril, Ph.D.
Megan BarilMegan currently works in the Human Development and Family Studies program at Penn State University as a postdoctoral researcher and instructor. Her research orientation lies broadly in the family ecology of parent adolescent relationships and adolescent well-being. Her dissertation research focused on the family ecology of parental knowledge, with the goal of better understanding the processes that give rise to parental knowledge in diverse families and contexts.

Kelly Davis, Ph.D.
Kelly DavisKelly is a Research Associate at Penn State, directing a project called Workplace Practices and Daily Family Well-Being. Her research focuses on the implications of work conditions for family relationships and individual and family members' well-being. She is particularly interested in the extent to which parents' work experiences cross over and influence children's well-being, and also how children's experiences cross over to mothers and fathers. She is also involved in work examining the daily covariation of stressful work experiences and cortisol, a biological marker of stress.

Aryn Dotterer, Ph.D.
Aryn DottererAryn is a postdoctoral scholar at the Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill. Aryn is interested in the transition to adolescence and parents' socialization of their children and adolescents in minority and low-income families.

Melissa Fortner, Ph.D.
Melissa FortnerMelissa graduated from Penn State with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies in 2004. Currently, she is an assistant professor at Transylvania University. Broadly, she is interested in adolescent development and parent-adolescent relationships.

Marni Kan, Ph.D.
Marni KanMarni Kan graduated from Penn State in 2007 and is currently a Research Psychologist at RTI International in Research Triangle Park, NC. Her interests focus on the family context of romantic relationships during adolescence and adulthood, including parent involvement in adolescent dating and links between parents' relationship quality and their parenting experiences. She is also interested in prevention and evaluation research related to families and romantic relationships, including adolescent sexual risk prevention and couple violence prevention.

Ji-Yeon Kim, Ph.D.
Ji-Yeon KimJi-Yeon is an assistant specialist at University of Hawaii-Manoa. She is interested in family systems, especially focusing on changes in youth well-being and adjustment during middle childhood and adolescence, including cultural effects on family processes, specifically in terms of gender socialization. Her focus is also on methodology with a focus on longitudinal designs.

Ashleigh L. May, Ph.D.
Ashleigh L. MayAshleigh graduated from Penn State with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies in 2008. The primary focus of her doctoral work was on the links between overweight and sociocultural, family and individual factors among minority adolescents. Currently, Ashleigh is an Epidemic Intelligence Service (EIS) Officer in the Division for Heart Disease and Stroke Prevention at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Her research agenda focuses on the social determinants and precursors of heart disease among youth. Ashleigh also serves as a member of the U.S. Public Health Service.

Lilly Shanahan, Ph.D.
Lilly ShanahanLilly graduated from Penn State with a doctoral degree in Human Development and Family Studies in 2004. After completing postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Developmental Science, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (, she joined the Psychology department at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro ( Lilly's research interests focus on the development of family systems and youth psychopathology. First, how are siblings' experiences within and outside of the family similar and/or different, how do such shared and nonshared experiences develop over time, and how are they associated with youth well-being? Second, how are child-, family-, and community-level risk factors and their timing related to the deveopmental course of psychopathology? Third, how does childhood depression develop, and what is its influence on the larger family system? Interests in gender differences and longitudinal, family-based research methods permeate all of her work.

Cindy Shearer, Ph.D.
Cindy ShearerCindy graduated with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies in 2007. The focus on her doctoral work was on gender socialization during adolescence and emerging adulthood and its implications for psychosocial well being. She is also interested in linkages between gender development and behavioral health outcomes, such as safer sex practices. Cindy is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Atlantic Health Promotion Research Centre at Dalhousie University in Nova Scotia, Canada.

Shawn Whiteman, Ph.D.
Shawn WhitemanShawn graduated from Penn State with a degree in Human Development and Family Studies in 2004. He is currently an assistant professor at Purdue University. His research interests focus on family socialization processes and their connection to youths' social and emotional development during middle childhood, adolescence, and early adulthood. Currently, his research examines how siblings directly and indirectly act as sources of social influence and social comparison within families and how their family experiences foster similarities and differences in their relationship qualities, attributes, and adjustment. A related, secondary research interest is the exploration of different research methodologies for studying families.