University of Massachusetts Amherst

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Postdoctoral Scholars (present and past)

Annie Wright

Ph.D., Clinical Psychology, Virginia Commonwealth University

Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 2020-2021

Dr. Anna Wright (Annie) served as post-doctoral research scholar for the Rudd Adoption Program from 2020 - 2021. Her research interests broadly focus on the risk and resilience among children who have been separated from their parents. More specifically, Annie is interested in fostering positive development among children who have experienced institutional care, domestically and abroad. She received her BA in Psychology from the University of Vermont, where she began her interest in studying parenting dynamics and the effects on child outcomes. While completing her Clinical Psychology MS and PhD at Virginia Commonwealth University, she conducted clinical and research work with youth in foster care, youth in institutional care, and incarcerated parents who are actively involved in parenting, though separated from their children. Her dissertation illuminated the patterns of adjustment among children in institutional care in Ghana and compared patterns to youth in two-parent-homes in the same region. Additionally, the project included qualitative data collected from caregivers and teachers to help explain findings within the cultural context of Ghana. Looking forward, Annie hopes to apply her research to policy and intervention work in order to ensure the best care and outcomes for youth who experience parental separation. Following her postdoc, Annie accepted a position as Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Jessica Matthews

Postdoctoral Scholar, University of Massachusetts Amherst

Jessica A.K. Matthews served as post-doctoral research scholar for the Rudd Adoption Program from 2017 - 2020. In addition to her own research on adoptive families, she was responsible for managing the undergraduate research laboratory, as well as working on the dissemination and translation of adoption related research for general audiences. She began projects concerning adoptive sibling relationships, and birthfather relationships within the Minnesota Texas Adoption Research Project sample. Jessica received her PhD from Tufts University in Child Study and Human Development in 2017 working with Professor Ellen Pinderhughes. While attending the University of California, Berkeley as an undergraduate, Jessica majored in psychology and political science where she became interested in adoption. Jessica has been studying adoption, international adoption in particular, for the past ten years. Jessica's dissertation research concerned the maltreatment experiences of previously adopted children in the U.S. foster care system, though most of her graduate work focused on early emotion regulation, identity formation, and the ethnic-racial socialization of international and transracial adoptees. Additional research interests include the complexities of transracial adoption, special needs adoption, and the development of children who do not regularly experience parental care worldwide. Jessica is a transplant from California, and she and her husband, Jonathan, now live in the greater Boston area with their daughter and their three dogs.

Rachel Farr

Rachel Farr joined the Rudd program in February 2011 as a postdoctoral research scholar and was promoted to research assistant professor in 2012, remaining in that role until 2015. With her colleagues in the program, Rachel is working with the MTARP data set on several research projects related to openness arrangements among birth and adoptive families, particularly as adoptees enter adulthood and as related to their personal relationships (i.e., with their adoptive parents and siblings). A central question in this work regards how adoptees conceptualize “family” in adulthood and how primary tasks of adulthood (e.g., entering long-term romantic relationships, marriage, establishing a career, having children) are influenced by adoptees’ ongoing relationships with adoptive and birth family members.

Prior to her postdoc, Rachel’s graduate work at the University of Virginia (UVA) included a large study of over 100 adoptive families from across the United States, headed by lesbian, gay, and heterosexual parenting couples, all of whom had completed domestic infant adoptions. The study examined the ways in which parental sexual orientation impacts child outcomes, parenting, and family dynamics in adoptive families with young children. With funding from the American Psychological Foundation’s Placek Award, a second wave of this study has been underway since the spring of 2013 now that children are school age. Rachel traveled across the country to visit participating families, and she has worked with a team of graduate and undergraduate students at UMass Amherst and UVA to collect, manage, and analyze the data. She is helping advise the master’s thesis research of Marykate Oakley, who is seeking to explore how lesbian and gay parents socialize their children about having same-sex parents and how this socialization is relevant to children’s well-being. Rachel also advises approximately 10–12 undergraduate research assistants each semester in the Rudd Adoption Research Program, which typically includes at least 1–2 honors thesis research projects. For example, under Rachel’s leadership, undergraduate senior Emily Crain presented her honors thesis at two national conferences in 2014 about experiences of microaggressions, feelings of difference, and resiliency among children with same-sex parents. 

Lynn Von Korff

B.F.A., Boston University; M.B.A., University of Minnesota; Ph.D., Family Social Science, University of Minnesota

Lynn Von Korff, MBA, Ph.D. is a Research Fellow and Lecturer in the Department of Family Social Science, University of Minnesota and former postdoctoral scholar with the Rudd Adoption Research Program at UMass Amherst (2009 - 2010). She received a BFA from Boston University School of Fine Arts, an MBA from the Carlson School of Management at the University of Minnesota, and her Ph.D. in Family Social Science from the University of Minnesota. In her postdoctoral role, Lynn provided data consultation for the Minnesota Texas Adoption Research Project (MTARP). She is especially interested in identity development among adolescent and young adult adoptees and is also examining the relationships between children's mothers by birth and adoption. She teaches Introduction to Quantitative Family Research Methods and oversees a blog about family research methodology.