Current Awardees

Samantha Bernecker
CRF Dissertation Fellowships in Family Research
Research:

Samantha L. Bernecker is a third-year PhD student in the Clinical Psychology Program at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, where she joined The Psychotherapy Research Lab in 2011.

Through her current project "Training Peers to Improve Each Other's Mental Well-Being with an Online Course," Bernecker hopes to leverage existing peer support systems to improve the public's mental health, developing an easily accessible online training that will teach dyads basic counseling skills which they can then apply to improve each other's well-being. 

Her research is guided by the goal of understanding how human change processes operate and using this information to develop more powerful and efficient treatments for mental illness and other psychosocial problems. Her interests include interpersonal processes and their effects on well-being, development of interventions for adults, emotion regulation, self-regulation, information technology-based interventions, and psychotherapy process and outcome research.

 

 

Rosanna Breaux
CRF Family Research Travel Award (Spring)
Research:

 

Rosanna Breaux is a second-year clinical psychology graduate student, working with Dr. Elizabeth Harvey. She received her B.S. in Psychology from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA in 2011.  She recently completed her Master’s Thesis on the role of parent psychopathology in the developmental trajectories of preschool children with behavior problems.  Her primary research interests include examining parent-child interactions and parental and environmental factors that influence functioning in children over time. Additionally, she is interested in early interventions in at-risk populations, and what factors lead to better outcomes in such interventions.

Maggie Cunningham
CRF Family Research Assistantship
Research:

Maggie is a junior at UMass Amherst who is pursuing a BA in Psychology with a minor in education. She has been working in the Rudd Adoption Lab since September 2012. She also works at the Arbour Hospital psychiatric facility. After graduating from UMass in May 2014, she hopes to pursue a Masters in Social Work.

Holly Grant-Marsney
CRF Family Research Travel Award (Spring)
Research:

 

Holly A. Grant-Marsney received her B.A. in Neuroscience and Behavior from Mount Holyoke College, and her M.S. in Clinical Psychology from the University of Massachusetts Amherst in 2011.  She is now pursuing her doctorate in Clinical Psychology. She works with Dr. Harold Grotevant and has continued to use data from the Minnesota Texas Adoption Research Project (MTARP).  Ms. Grant’s research interests involve adoptive families, close relationships, and adoptive identity development.

Hillary Hadley
CRF Family Research Travel Award (Spring)
Research:

 

Hillary Hadley is a 3rd year graduate student in the developmental psychology program. She works with Dr. Lisa Scott and studies face and object perception in infancy. 

Her research interests include the roles of experience and early learning in category expertise. Hillary received her B.A. in Psychology from the University of Louisville and her M.S. in Psychology from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. She will be traveling to Seattle, Washington to present her work at the Society for Research in Child Development biennial meeting. 

Liliana Herakova
CRF Family Research Travel Award (Fall)
Research:

Liliana Herakova presented her paper “When the Baby Comes: Variations on Family Becoming(s)” at The National Communication Association Conference in Washington DC this November. 

Lily Herakova recently completed her PhD in Communication at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Her dissertation focuses on interpersonal communication in the context of prenatal and pregnancy care, including the perspectives and experiences of pregnant women, their partners, families, and prenatal care providers. Titled "Flying with the Storks: Communication, Culture, and Dialoguing Knowledge(s) in Prenatal Care" the dissertation is a dialogic performance of the different streams of knowledge that intersect and are created in the context of interpersonal interactions during pregnancy. Lily is a scholar, teacher, mother, and baker. Together with Leda Cooks, she co-founded one of the first U.S. Breadhouses, part of a U.N. recognized international nonprofit designed to build community around b(re)aking bread. Lily has presented at numerous interdisciplinary conferences and has published in various journals, including Journal of Applied Communication, Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, and Communication Studies.

Michelle Hien
CRF Family Research Honors Thesis/Capstone Project Award
Research:

Michelle Hien is a senior majoring in Public Health and also has minors in Psychology and Economics. 

Her thesis is entitled, "A Little Goes a Long Way: The Effects of Workplace Policies on the Mental Health of Low-Income, Working Mothers During the Transition to Parenthood" and her research interests include maternal and child health, health care, and public policy. Although she admits it is an ambitious goal, her ultimate career goal is to improve the American health care system and to reduce, or even eliminate, health inequities in the United States. 

Lauri Kurdzeil
CRF Family Research Travel Award (Fall)
Research:

Laura Kurdziel, M.S., is a Doctoral Candidate in Neuroscience and Behavior Cognition and Action Lab. She recently presented her paper “Emotional Memory Consolidation and Napping in Preschool Children” at the Pediatric Sleep Medicine Conference in Amelia Island, FLA. Kurdziel is a member of the Congnition and Action lab under the advisement of Dr. Rebecca Spencer, and primarily studies the role of sleep in learning and memory among preschool-aged children. She is particularly interested in the function of napping within the preschool classroom, and how naps may enhance learning outcomes of early education. Lauri recieved a B.S. in Zoology from the University of Maryland, and an M.S. in Amimal Behavior from Bucknell University.

Claudia Lugo-Candelas
CRF Dissertation Fellowships in Family Research
Research:

Claudia Lugo-Candelas is third year graduate student in the clinical psychology program. She is originally from Puerto Rico, where she obtained a B.A. from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus.  

She obtained her M.S. in Clinical Psychology from UMass Amherst, and her work explored the influence of culture in parents’ emotion socialization practices. She is currently studying the neural correlates of emotion processing in preschoolers with hyperactivity under the mentorship of Professor Elizabeth Harvey. Her main research interests include emotion regulation processes and deficits in young children with disruptive behavior disorders, particularly ADHD. 

Milena Marchesi
CRF Family Research Travel Award (Spring)
Research:

 

Milena Marchesi is a PhD candidate in the Anthropology Department. Her research interests lie at the intersections of the anthropology of reproduction, biopolitics, migration, and neoliberalism. She is writing her dissertation, titled Reproducing Italians, Remaking the Social: Biopolitics and Social Cohesion in Neoliberal Times, which is based on multi-sited ethnographic research conducted in Milan in 2006-2007with funding from a Wenner-Gren Foundation Dissertation Fieldwork Grant. Her most recent publication (2012), titled “Reproducing Italians: Contested Biopolitics in the Age of ‘Replacement Anxiety,’” was published as part of a special issue she co-edited for the journal Anthropology & Medicine

Nozipho Maziya
CRF Family Research Travel Award (Fall)
Research:

Nozipho Maziya, Doctoral Candidate in the Department of Public Health Nutrition, presented her paper “Adolescent Nutritional Status and its Association with Village-Level Factors in Tanzania” at The American Public Health Associations 141st Annual Meeting and Exposition in Boston. She will also be presenting at Experimental Biology in April 2014 in San Diego, Calif.

 

Maziya obtained her bachelor’s degree in Food Science and Nutrition from the University of Swaziland. She came into the department as a Fulbright Scholar in 2011, and has recently completed her Master’s thesis, which examined associations between contextual environments and nutritional status of adolescents within villages of Kilosa District, Tanzania. Her research interests include child and adolescent malnutrition, food insecurity, chronic disease prevention (obesity and HIV/AIDS), determinants of health, and health promotion. In her home country, Maziya facilitated the establishment and implementation of projects aimed at preventing HIV/AIDS, promoting maternal and child health, reducing poverty and food insecurity, and improving clean water access and sanitation. 

Chantal Newkirk
CRF Family Research Assistantship
Research:

 

Chantal Newkirk is a Sociology major and a Women, Gender, and Sexualities Studies minor. She is working on a project with Michelle Budig to explore how women’s family responsibilities shape and are shaped by their paid work and how motherhood influences women’s entrepreneurship. She will graduate in May 2014 and plans to attend a graduate program in sociological research. 

Alix Olson
CRF Dissertation Fellowships in Family Research
Research:

Alix Olson is a PhD candidate in Political Theory and holds a Graduate Certificate in Advanced Feminist Studies.  Her research interests include modern and contemporary social and political theory and feminist and queer politics. 

Alix also is a writer, performer and internationally touring spoken word artist-activist.  She is the author of numerous publications including articles in New Political Science (June, 2013) and  Wagadu (Summer 2013), a chapter in Agitation with a Smile: The Legacies of Howard Zinn (Paradigm Press, forthcoming 2013) and a Ms. Magazine cover story “Road Poet on a Mission.” Alix has published several volumes of poetry and is the editor of Word Warriors: 35 Women Leaders in the Spoken Word Revolution (Seal Press, 2007). She has received a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship, Barbara Deming Grant and Out Music’s Out-Activist of the Year Award. 

Jinni Su
CRF Family Research Methodological Studies Award
Research:

Jinni Su is a doctoral student in Human Development and Family Studies at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. Her research interests center on genetic and environmental influences on adolescent development, with a particular focus on adolescent substance use.  

Specifically, she is interested in (a) examining ethnic variations in direct, indirect, and interactive influences of family, peer, school, and neighborhood risk/protective factors on adolescent substance use, (b) understanding independent, cumulative, and interactive genetic effects and gene-environment interactions related to substance use typologies and trajectories, as well as comorbidity among substance use, antisocial behaviors, and mental health problems. She holds a BS in Economics from Beijing Normal University, China, and a MS in Human Development and Family Studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.