Research in Family Studies and Human Development is conducted in 5 core areas. These targeted areas constitute our core domains for development of focused excellence in basic and applied research on families and human development.
Research in this area examines the influence of socio-cultural contexts, participation in youth programs, and family relationships on adolescent health and development.
Lynne Borden: Dr. Borden's research focuses on youth development. Specifically, she investigates the influence of families on the participation of young people in youth development programs, and how this participation in turn affects important life outcomes. She has studied, in particular, the influence of program participation on educational attainment, civic participation, and successful transition to adulthood.
Noel Card: Dr. Card studies the antecedents and consequences of adolescent aggression and peer relations. His research incorporates multiple contextual levels of influence, including individual characteristics, parenting and family features, interconnections among various aspects of peer relations, and broader contextual factors (e.g., school transitions). His current research focuses on the role of dyadic interactions and relationships; specifically, on interrelations among friendships, enemies, and aggressor-victim relationships. Methods of measuring and modeling the multiple features, both concurrently and over time, are also a focus of Dr. Card's research.
Bruce Ellis: Dr. Ellis conducts longitudinal studies examing the effects of paternal investment and quality of family relationships on timing of puberty, adolescent sexual behavior, and risk of teenage pregnancy. He is particularly interested in applications of life history theory to adolescent development.
Susan Silverberg Koerner: Although Dr. Koerner’s research is not currently focused on the period of adolescence, she has a long history of research on adolescents and their parents (e.g., the development of autonomy, post-divorce mother-adolescent relationships). Most recently she completed a longitudinal, mixed-method study based on structural family systems concepts, that examined mother-adolescent relationships in the first two years after divorce. Of special interest was the extent, meaning, and mental-behavioral health implications of mother-to-adolescent disclosure about sensitive topic areas (e.g., financial concerns, anger felt toward the adolescent's father/the ex-husband) in the wake of divorce.
Michael Rohrbaugh: Dr. Rohrbaugh coordinates a multi-site observational study examining links between adolescent drug abuse and family interaction, including how these links may vary with culture and change over time.
Andrea Romero: Dr. Romero studies the effect of bicultural contexts on the stress and coping of adolescents and the implications for mental well-being. She has particularly focused on how ethnic identity development is a protective factor against the negative effect of discrimination on mental health of ethnic minority adolescents. She also investigates the impact of family and neighborhood contexts on the health and well-being of adolescents. Her current research focuses on the development of resilience among ethnic minority adolescents as it relates to preventing risky health behavior. She is currently conducting and evaluating substance use and HIV prevention programs among adolescents.
Stephen T. Russell: Dr. Russell studies contexts of development and their influence on adolescent sexuality and health, with specific focus on the role of ethnic and sexual identity in adolescent health and well-being. A large portion of his work focuses on adolescent sexual orientation, with the objective of better understanding risk and resilience among sexual minority youth. He also is involved in a multi-year study of ethnic group differences in parenting practices and the implications for adolescent health.
Research in this area focuses on the emotional well-being and physical health of family members across the lifecycle. Emphasis is on relationship processes and family context as important factors contributing to overall health and well-being.
Melissa A. Barnett: Dr. Barnett studies links between family relationships and the mental health and well-being of multiple family members, including young children, parents and grandparents. Her research considers parent-child, parent-parent and grandparent-child relationships.
Emily Butler: Dr. Butler's research focuses on emotional processes and self-regulation in the context of close relationships. Using a multi-method approach, she investigates the physiological, psychological, and social aspects of emotional interactions in couples and families. A current focus of her research is to study emotions, self-regulation, and eating in couples and families coping with obesity.
Melissa Curran: Dr. Curran studies how early representations within the family of origin impact current and later marital, child, and familial outcomes. She uses multiple methods (interview, observation, self-report) and multiple informants (husband, wife, child) in her research.
Susan Silverberg Koerner: Dr. Koerner focuses on the emotional and physical well-being of adults who are caregivers for elder dependent family members. Based on daily diary data and open-ended survey questions, Dr. Koerner is investigating how the day-to-day variations in care-related stressors (e.g., daily tasks, care recipient problem behaviors, family disagreements regarding care) are linked to fluctuations in the emotional and physical well-being of caregivers. Her current samples include both Hispanic/Latino and non-Hispanic White family caregivers. She is interested in how daily reactivity to care-related stressors may differ as a function of cultural, contextual, and personal qualities of the caregiver (e.g., familism, extrinsic stressors, personality, gender).
Andrea Romero: Dr. Romero studies the cultural value of familism among adolescents and parents and also among elders and caregivers. She has investigated the impact of familism and parental monitoring on adolescent risk behaviors over time. She is currently co-investigator on a randomized clinical trial of Mexican American elders and their caregivers.
Michael Rohrbaugh: In studies of couples coping with heart disease, Dr. Rohrbaugh is examining how relationship processes contribute to the partners' distress and the course of the patient's illness. A related treatment-development study focuses on high-risk couples in which at least one partner continues to smoke despite having heart or lung disease.
Stephen T. Russell: Dr. Russell studies the family as a crucial context for understanding adolescent development and health, with specific focus on the role of ethnic and sexual identity in adolescent health and well-being. A portion of this work focuses on the family lives of sexual minority youth. He also is involved in a multi-year study of ethnic group differences in parenting practices and the implications for adolescent health.
Research in this area focuses on psychobiologic and socio-emotional development in young children and examines the roles of early familial and extra-familial experiences and socio-cultural influences in that development.
Melissa A. Barnett: Dr. Barnett’s research considers how family processes (e.g., parenting and coparenting) interact with child characteristics (e.g., temperament), sociocultural factors (e.g., ethnicity), and economic disadvantage to influence the development of positive and negative dimensions of social and emotional adjustment. Her research focuses on the toddler and preschool periods, including the implications of development during these periods for the acquisition of social and emotional school readiness skills.
Noel Card: Dr. Card studies the peer relations and aggressive behaviors, including their antecedents and consequences. His research has considers friendships and antipathetic relationships, and how these relationships with peers connect with relationships within the family (e.g., parent-child attachment). He has also examined the various forms and functions of aggressive behavior, considering the risk factors and consequences for both the aggressors and victims; his current research considers the dyadic contexts in which these various types of aggression occur (i.e., aggressor-victim relationships). Methods of quantitatively modeling these phenomena across time are of central concern in Dr. Card's research.
Melissa Curran: Dr. Curran is interested in how early parental and triadic experiences predict children ' s current and later socioemotional functioning (e.g., ADHD, anxiety, depression).
Bruce Ellis: Dr. Ellis studies the role of early experience in the development of psychobiologic reactivity to stress in young children. His work conceptualizes psychobiologic reactivity as a marker of suseptibility to environmental influence that often moderates the influence of early experience on subsequent developmental outcomes.
Angela Taylor: Dr. Taylor's research examines the influence of children's interpersonal relationships (parents, teachers, peers) on socio-emotional development and school adjustment, including the role of these relationships as risk and protective factors. She has particular interest in the socio-cultural determinants of early school adjustment in low-income and ethnic minority children.
This research area addresses the dynamics of romantic and sexual relationships and assumes that these relationships are best understood from multiple perspectives, i.e., individual development, relational development, gender, and others. Faculty research has focused on relationships from adolescence to adulthood, the interplay of romantic and sexual aspects of relationships, gender dynamics, relationship dysfunctions, and the role of personality in relationships.
Emily Butler: Dr. Butler studies the roles of emotion regulation and social support in the relationships of romantic and married couples. This research includes both laboratory based investigations of couples' supportive interactions and arguments, during which self-report, physiological, and behavioral measures are collected, and daily diary methods in which partners report on their everyday intimate interactions. A recent focus of Dr. Butler's research is to investigate emotion regulation and social support in couples coping with obesity.
Melissa Curran: Dr. Curran studies how early representations within the family of origin impact current and later marital quality and health. Her proposed research includes studying couples in which the wife has breast cancer. She wants to explore the process by which representations of the parents ' marriage predict how supportive spouses are to one another during discussion tasks, and how such support predicts health and well-being in both partners over time.
Stephen T. Russell: A significant focus of Dr. Russell's work has been on adolescent sexuality and romance. His work in these areas focuses on: Applied research projects on teenage pregnancy prevention, studies of same-sex romance and sexuality in adolescence, and implications of romance and sexuality for well-being, and theoretical and empirical bases for conceptualizing positive sexuality development among adolescents.
This research area bridges research and theory development with practice. It is designed to solve practical problems and offer research-based solutions to critical questions. A primary goal of the applied researcher is to improve the human condition.
Lynne Borden: Dr. Borden's research focuses on youth development, specifically on community programs that promote the positive development of young people. She has a particular interest in the factors (e.g., gender, culture, family, peers, program quality, program availability and focus) that influence young people's choices to participate or not to participate in youth programs.
Andrea Romero: Dr. Romero conducts participatory action research in collaboration with many local community members and agencies around the topics of preventing underage drinking and preventing HIV/AIDS. She works closely with the South Tucson Prevention Coalition on related projects. She is currently conducting substance use and HIV prevention programs with adolescents. Her research links theory and research on ethnic identity development and discrimination with local community projects.
Michael Rohrbaugh: Dr. Rohrbaugh is conducting a federally-funded clinical trial that compares Brief Strategic Family Therapy (BSFT) to "treatment as usual" in 8 community treatment programs around the country. His main aim in the study is to understand how and for whom BSFT works best. Secondary aims are to examine variations in how counselors and therapists view adolescent drug abuse, and to track changes in BSFT therapists' conceptual and behavioral skills during the course of their training and the clinical trial. In another study funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, Dr. Rohrbaugh is developing and evaluating a "family consultation" approach to help health-compromised smokers.
Stephen T. Russell: Dr Russell is committed to linking research and practical application in each of his programs of research. Examples of applications that have resulted from his applied research on adolescent sexuality include: Curricula on "Adolescent Health and Development" and "Understanding and supporting LGBT Youth," both of which have been used to train hundreds of youth professionals in the US, multiple publications that translate best practices in teen pregnancy prevention for use by pregnancy prevention program practitioners, and a CDC-funded website for youth program professionals on effectives strategies to help young people develop the skills and motivations to make healthy sexual choices.