Psychology and Child Development

College of Liberal Arts

Faculty Research Interests

PSY and CD Faculty


Lucy Bencharit

Factors that promote positive outcomes for diverse groups in employment, workplace, and classroom settings. Ways that cultural factors may subtly and unconsciously shape our behaviors, judgments, and decision making.  Explorations of how culture influences our emotional values, behaviors and employment outcomes. Investigating how to leverage our cultural values to facilitate successful work and classroom outcomes in an increasingly multicultural world. Emphasizing the ways in which we can intervene on our environments to create healthy, efficient, and equitable organizations and institutions. 


Kelly Bennion

Factors that promote successful memory using a combination of behavioral, eye tracking, polysomnography, and neuroimaging approaches. Effects of real-life variables (e.g., emotion, physiological arousal, stress, motivation) on memory, and understanding how sleep affects memory. Prioritization of information during encoding to lead to optimal consolidation during sleep.


Jay Bettergarcia

Queer and transgender mental health and wellness; Latinx/Latine queer and trans resilience and resistance; radical healing with queer and trans people of color; Evidence-based approaches to teaching and training about anti-racist LGBTQ affirming care


Shawn Burn

Application of social psychology to social problems, including racism, sexism, sexual assault,

heterosexism, and environmental sustainability. Expertise in group dynamics and organizational psychology.


Laura Cacciamani

Investigating how the various senses (vision, touch, hearing, etc.) work together and separately to produce understanding. Ability to both perceive and remember the objects in our environment, as well as their spatial relationships. Object perception and memory in both sighted individuals as well as those with sensory deficits such as blindness or deafness.


Denise Daniels

Early learning environments and children’s motivation; development of social cognition; beliefs about child development and practice.


Aaron Estrada

Teaching and training psychotherapy skills and process; psychotherapy and counseling with diverse populations; the intersection of psychological assessment and culture


Laura Freberg

Learning, memory, and cognition; physiological psychology; history and systems of psychology; sensation and perception; behavior disorders in childhood. Ongoing research in the areas of the use of technological innovations in instruction and memory processes in adults with learning disabilities.


Julie Garcia

Social stigma; Self-esteem & self-concept; Stereotyping & prejudice; Multiple social identities.


Jennifer Jipson

Children’s emerging theories of scientific domains, children’s developing scientific reasoning skills, informal environments (e.g., museums, zoos, preschools) as contexts for learning, use of technology to support children’s learning, social and cultural contexts of young children’s cognitive development.


Jasna Jovanovic

Adolescent development; gender socialization. On-going research on emerging adult sexual behavior with a particular focus on women’s sexual agency in casual relationships.  


Jessica Kaczorowski

Understanding brain-behavior relationships in children with neurodevelopmental differences, from a developmental psychopathology perspective. Neuropsychological factors associated with a wide range of neurodevelopmental differences in childhood, such as autism, adhd, intellectual disability, learning differences, and genetic syndromes.


Carrie Langner

Social Norm-Based Bullying Intervention, Social Status & Hierarchy; Social identity and Political Participation; and Conflict Resolution.


Gary Laver

Memory and cognition, research methodology, and quantitative analysis of data including computer applications; basic research on semantic memory and changes in it over the course of adult aging.


Linda Lee

Peer relationships in early childhood. Peer play, preferences, and friendship selection and formation in culturally diverse preschools. Ethnic identity development in early childhood.


Susana A. López

The psychological processes of acculturation, immigration, psychological/racial trauma, protective factors, resilience, and the utilization of psychological services among marginalized populations. Specifically, cultural factors and assets that promote resilience and systems that reduce vulnerability. Mental health stigmas and mental health care disparities among BIPOC populations. The benefits of multicultural education for students and educators. Using decolonizing psychology and qualitative community-based research frameworks.


J. Kelly Moreno

Eating disorders, mood and anxiety disorders; group therapy; psychodynamic theory and practice; forensic psychology.


Jennifer Teramoto Pedrotti

Counseling psychology; tshe intersection of multiculturalism and positive psychology constructs such as hope, coping, and well-being; multiracial identity development.


Taylor Smith

Developmental origins of Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); prenatal environmental influences on neurodevelopmental outcomes; gene-environment interaction; epigenetics; meta-analysis. Ongoing research on the interplay between genetic/epigenetic factors and prenatal environment on ADHD risk.


Debra Valencia-Laver

Memory and cognition, especially the changes that occur with advanced age. Psycholinguistics and the relationship of memory to language processing in healthy young and older adults.

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