I am an Associate Professor and the chair of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies in the School of Human Ecology at the UW-Madison. I earned my BA in Psychology in 1995 from Hampton University, a Historically Black University in Hampton, Virginia. I obtained my doctorate in Psychology with a Clinical emphasis in 2001 at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey.
My scholarship revolves around how early developmental contexts help or hinder children’s development into competent, productive members of society. I address this broad issue of how parents and coparents, parenting behaviors, and the social and physical environments impact self-regulation development and school readiness.
Graduate Students and Staff
Bakari Wallace is a Doctoral student in the Civil Society & Community Research program at the School of Human Ecology located at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. Mr. Wallace’s research interests include Black studies, community organizing in the Black Radical tradition, urban education studies, and community-based participatory action research.
Saliha is a PhD Student in Human Development & Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin. Saliha’s main research interest is the effect of early exposure to biological and psychosocial adversity in young children. She is interested in identifying early risk factors of cognitive development and how early psychosocial and physiological pathways can influence the course of development. More specifically, her work examines the effects of early chronic stress and the role of parenting on executive function development of young children. Besides research, she likes exploring different natural areas and walking by the water.
Laura is a Masters/Doctoral student in the Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Wisconsin Madison. She is interested in Biracial/Multiracial studies and identity development in children, specifically in the family context. Laura has worked at nonprofits with children and families in several different states on a local level and enjoys learning more about the human landscape.
Amanda’s research interests include learning about the long-term impact of childhood illness on caregivers, children, and siblings. Her professional experience motivates her to continue looking at how child life specialists can work as part of the multidisciplinary team to effectively support children, caregivers and siblings in the healthcare environment. Her work would focus on examining the link between utilizing child life interventions to promote positive coping for children, caregivers, and siblings. Specifically, she would like to look at how those early experiences in healthcare impact future coping and how healthcare professionals, such as child life specialists, can work to mitigate long-term negative effects. Other areas of interest and relevant to her passion include family stress and coping, parent-child relationships, and promoting resiliency.
Isaac Trussoni is in his second year as a Master’s student in Afro-American studies. He has been a part of the CAFE lab since he was an undergraduate student at UW Madison. He is interested in research with Black families and Black fathers.
Joana Arengo is a first-year graduate student in the MS in Human Ecology program. She is a recent graduate from UW-Madison where she studied Human Development and Family Studies with a certificate in Health and the Humanities. Joana is passionate about working with families and children, primarily in a healthcare setting. Additionally, she is interested in various prevention-based interventions that would improve the quality of life for families within vulnerable communities.
Elizandra Sandoval is a Senior at the University of Wisconsin – Madison double majoring in
Human Development and Family Studies and Psychology. She is a Ronald E. McNair Post Baccalaureate Scholar researching sense of belonging among Latinx students at predominantly White institutions. Using the Psychosociocultural (PSC) Model (Gloria & Rodriguez, 2002; Castellanos & Gloria, 2007) to assess students’ educational experiences, her research discusses resilience, familismo, and ethnic identity as domains contributing to the Latinx college student experience. Elizandra intentionally highlights Mexican-American culture, generational status, and the institutional context to address current gaps in literature.
Emma Mae Mortensen
Emma is a Senior at UW-Madison majoring in Human Development and Family Studies with
certificates in Gender and Women’s Studies and Education Policy. With interest in social justice
issues and how they affect education, Emma is eager to work on research projects that help
identify varying factors that contribute to childrens’ school readiness. Emma is also a co-founder
and the Outreach Coordinator for the student organization Period. At UW Madison, that is
centered on raising money and awareness for the surrounding issues of period poverty.
Gari Beidner is a second-year undergraduate student. She is double majoring in Human Development & Family Studies and Psychology with a certificate in Digital Studies. Gari is excited to learn about the long-term effects of childhood experiences alongside the Café Team. She hopes to further her education in graduate school with hopes of earning a position of working with children.
Macayla Church is a Junior at UW-Madison majoring in psychology and Spanish with a criminal justice minor. She works as an Undergraduate Research Assistant for the Dilworth-Bart Lab and is interested in how social and emotional influences during development play a role in children’s academic success and integration into society. She is passionate about criminal justice reform as well as mental health and child development. In the future, she hopes to work toward a PhD in clinical psychology.
Milly Timm is a sophomore at UW-Madison majoring in Human Development and Family Studies with Psychology. She is excited to be working as an undergraduate intern with the CAFE Lab and assisting with their research! Milly is passionate about working with families and hopes to pursue a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy after her undergraduate studies.
Natalia Iding is a sophomore at UW-Madison, double majoring in Human Development and Family Studies, and Gender and Women’s Studies. She is interested in familial dynamics and the roles and interactions of members within the family, both modern and historic. She is also intrigued by the feminine and masculine ideal as well as intersectionality between varying social categories. Natalia is delighted to be a part of a research team focusing on the effects of family environments in schools and outside the household, including factors such as parental involvement and race.
Simran is studying Psychology as a sophomore in the College of Letters and Science. She is passionate about learning everything she can about the minds of different people. She hopes to pursue a career within Clinical or Social Psychology, so that she can use the knowledge she learns throughout her education to help others. To unwind on difficult days, she enjoys spending time with her friends and baby sister, watching Netflix, and petting dogs!