Research

Faculty interests and student opportunities

Human Development and Family Science faculty and students are actively engaged in ongoing research projects that span the globe. Our research teams are always looking for students interested in gaining hands-on experience. Current opportunities are searchable below by interest areas and the faculty leading them, as well as through a keyword search of project titles and descriptions. By clicking on a faculty member’s name, you can learn more about their work on their profile page. Or stop by the Human Development and Family Science suite in the Falk Complex (Falk 144) with questions about specific faculty-student research opportunities.

Worldwide research in human development and family studies

The graphic above highlights the worldwide reach of on-going research within Human Development and Family Science. Projects in the U.S. and Canada include topics such as intimate partner violence, family dynamics, child and youth development, aging, mindfulness and self-regulation, and immigrants and cross-cultural issues. In the Caribbean faculty are researching child development, early childhood education and mental health. Research in Ukraine includes dating violence, economic hardship, physical and mental health, child development, and intimate partner violence. In South Korea research encompasses child development, and early childhood education. Research in other countries include socialization behaviors and adolescent adjustment in Ghana, work and family and child play and development in India, aging and the family in Thailand, and father involvement in Saudi Arabia.

Exciting world-wide research opportunities exist for students. Browse through the listing of on-going research to find a good fit for you, or for more information contact the Department of Human Development and Family Science at kbrainon@syr.edu or kmnasto@syr.edu.

Our Research Projects


Browse Projects:

Caribbean Young Adults Study: Risk and Protective Factors as Determinants of Health Behaviors of Caribbean Youth: Identifying Points of Intervention

Category: Behavioral Health, Physical Health

This study uses of both quantitative and qualitative approaches to understand the association between risk and protective factors associated with health outcomes of young adults in Trinidad and Tobago, Guyana, and Surname. The participants are 2,000 university students (18-25 years) enrolled at the University of the West Indies, St. Augustine Campus, Trinidad and Tobago, University of Guyana, Turkeyen Campus, Guyana, and Anton de Kom University of Suriname, Suriname. Project Investigators include Lutchmie Narine, Ambika Krishnakumar, and Jaipaul Roopnarine (Syracuse University). Collaborators include Dereck Chadee (The University of the West Indies), Michelle Semple-McBean (University of Guyana Turkeyen Campus), and Tobi L.G. Graafsma (Anton de Kom University of Suriname).

Project Status: Data collection in progress; doctoral students at Syracuse University are involved in this project. Students interested in learning more should contact Lutchmie Narine, lnarine@syr.edu.

Depressive Symptoms in Fathers and Interpersonal Violence and Children’s Internalizing and Externalizing Behaviors

Category: Interpersonal Conflict

Depressive symptoms and interpersonal violence perpetrated by men have negative effects on children’s social and cognitive functioning. With funding from the Administration for Children and Families, Department of Health and Human Services, Dr. Elif Dede Yildirim (former doctoral student in HDFS and now Assistant Professor at Auburn University) and I assessed (a) the impact of relationships skills education on depressive symptoms in fathers and (b) the associations between depressive symptoms in fathers and interpersonal violence and childhood outcomes via paternal warmth and avoidance of destructive conflict behaviors. Utilizing data from the eight site Building Strong Families (BSF) intervention program, we were able to demonstrate that relationship skills education led to decreases in depressive symptoms in fathers over time and that avoidance of destructive conflict behavior mediated the association between interpersonal violence and children’s externalizing behavior for those who received relationship skills education. The links between interpersonal violence and children’s behavioral difficulties were more direct for noncompliers of the intervention and control group fathers.

Project Status: Project is ongoing. Students interested in learning more should contact Jaipaul Lalla Roopnarine, jroopnar@syr.edu.

Depressive Symptoms in Fathers and Interpersonal Violence and Early Literacy Skills and Children’s Internalizing and Externalizing Behaviors in Caribbean Countries

Category: Behavioral Health, Childhood Outcomes

This study examines the mediating role of social support, ethnic and religious socialization, and the quality of couple relationship on the associations between depressive symptoms and interpersonal violence perpetrated by men and preschool children’s social and cognitive skills in Guyana, Jamaica, and Suriname. Children are assessed as they begin preschool and followed through kindergarten and first-grade. Participants are from diverse family constellations (e.g., married, common-law, visiting unions) and ethnic groups (African Caribbean, Indo Caribbean, Mixed-ethnic).

Project investigators include Jaipaul L. Roopnarine, Elif Dede Yildirim (Auburn University), Suzette Kelly, Shortwood Teachers College, Kingston, Jamaica, Manon Sanches and Anton de Kom University of Suriname. Doctoral student HDFS: Corinne Blake, Syracuse University.

Project Status: Proposal submitted for funding. Students interested in learning more should contact Jaipaul Lalla Roopnarine, jroopnar@syr.edu.

Home/School Environment and Child Achievement/Wellbeing

Category: Parental Engagement, School Environment

Dr. Eunjoo studies how interactions among the home and school environments influence child achievement and wellbeing outcomes from diverse backgrounds. Her investigations are aimed to address the crucial gaps in the field by examining the potential short- and long-term direct and indirect influences of home and school environment, and academic and behavioral outcomes while integrating associations across domains in the model. She has been working with her graduate students on many papers out of this project, and the papers were published in Child and Youth Care Forum and Journal of Child and Family Studies.

Project Status: Project is ongoing. Students interested in learning more should contact Eunjoo Jung, ejung03@syr.edu.

Selected Publications:

Jung, E., & Jin, B. (2019). Associations between sleep problems, cognitive, and socioemotional functioning from preschool to adolescence. Child & Youth Care Forum.

Jung, E. Zhang, Y., Hwang, W., & Zhang, Y. (2018). Parental health and children’s functioning in immigrant families: Family roles and perceived treatment at school. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 27(6), 1899-1913.

Jung, E. (2014). Examining differences in kindergartners’ mathematics learning: A closer look at instruction, socioeconomic status, and race. The Journal of Educational Research, 107(6), 429-439.

Indo-U. S. Families Project

Category: Work and Family

Work and family issues are central to every individual engaged in the paid workforce and the work-family interface in a global economy presents unique opportunities and challenges to working families. The Indo-U. S. Families Project focuses on the impact of the work-family interface on family relationships, health and well-being as many companies in the U.S. outsource to Indian organizations resulting in high rates of migration from India. People migrating to the U.S. may leave their families — spouse, children, aging parents, and extended family — in their home country, leading to the creation of transnational families. Kamala Ramadoss is the principal investigator of the Indo-U. S. Families Project.

Project Status: Project is ongoing. Students interested in learning more should contact Kamala Ramadoss, kramados@syr.edu .

Interparental Conflict/Intimate Partner Violence and Child/Adolescent Adjustment

Category: Interpersonal Conflict

The association between interparental conflict/intimate partner violence and youth maladjustment has been a focal point of much of Dr. Ambika Krishnakumar’s research over the last 25 years. She has authored several papers on the conceptualization and operationalization of interparental conflict as well as examined the role of mediating and moderating constructs such as parents’ socialization behaviors in the association between interparental conflict and child/adolescent adjustment. Beginning in 2013, she extended her work in the area of interparental conflict to also examine issues in the area of intimate partner violence in young adult dating relationships. She has worked with her graduate students on two papers on this topic, one in which they examined the role of conceptualization of sexual compliance from a feminist theoretical perspective (published in the Journal of Interpersonal Violence) and another one situated in the Ukrainian context in which they examined the ecological predictors of intimate partner violence directed by women against men (published in Aggressive Behavior). In the coming years, she plans to examine the role of coercive control and disagreements in dating relationships in international settings using secondary data sets as well as with primary data collection.

Project Status: Project is ongoing. Students interested in learning more should contact Ambika Krishnakumar, akrishna@syr.edu.

Selected Publications:

Krishnakumar, A., Conroy, N., & Narine, L. (2018). Correlates of sex-specific young adult college student dating violence typologies: A latent class analysis approach. Psychology of Violence, 8, 151-162. doi: 10.1037/vio0000116

Conroy, N. E., Krishnakumar, A., & Leone, J. M. (2015). Reexamining Issues of conceptualization and willing consent: The role of coercion in experiences of sexual acquiescence. Journal of Interpersonal Violence, 30, 1828-1846. doi: 10.1177/0886260514549050

Balabukha, I., Krishnakumar, A., & Narine, L. (2015). Intimate partner violence perpetrated by young adult women against men in Ukraine: Examining individual, familial, and cultural factors. Aggressive Behavior. doi: 10.1002/ab.21633

Mindfulness-Based Programs in Schools

Category: Behavioral Health, Mindfulness

Dr. Rachel Razza (Human Development and Family Science) and Dr. Dessa Bergen-Cico (Public Health) have been conducting research on the benefits of integrating mindfulness and yoga into public schools in Syracuse, Boston and Philadelphia. To date, their research has found that mindfulness-based interventions promote facets of self-regulation and self-awareness including inhibitory control, attention, response to stress, and self-compassion across students from preschoolers through adolescents. Self-regulation and self-awareness are important factors in psychological and physical well-being; they also reflect key mechanisms of contemplative education and are associated with school engagement and success. The majority of their work focuses on at-risk urban children and youth from communities experiencing high levels of trauma. Their research findings support the integration of mindfulness-based practices and programs as public health and educational strategies to promote school success and well-being across the lifespan. Their research team includes both graduate and undergraduate students from Falk as well as colleagues and students from Psychology.

Project Status: Project is ongoing. Students interested in learning more should contact Rachel Razza, rrazza@syr.edu, or Dessa Bergen-Cico, dkbergen@syr.edu .

Parenting Practices and Child Academic/Socio-Emotional Competences

Category: Parental Engagement

Dr. Eunjoo Jung research project is focused on investigating the role of parental factors including educational expectations, parenting practices, and parental involvement on children’s academic and socio-emotional competences. She has been collaborating with researchers from South Korea, China, and various states across US and has been closely working with her graduate students on many papers out of this project. The papers were published in Journal of Family Issues, Family Relations, and The Journal of Educational Research. As part of this project, she is currently examining the relations between autonomy supportive parenting, helicopter parenting, and the wellbeing of children across different countries from Eastern and Western cultures. She continues to examine the critical yet under-examined parenting practices across diverse contexts.

Project Status: Project is ongoing. Students interested in learning more should contact Eunjoo Jung, ejung03@syr.edu.

Selected Publications:

Jung, E., Hwang, W., Kim, S., Sin, H., Zhang, Y., & Zhao, Z. (2019). Relationships among helicopter parenting, self-efficacy, and academic outcome in American and South Korean college students. Journal of Family Issues.

Jung, E., Hwang, W., Zhang, Y., & Zhang, Y. (2018). Do parents’ educational expectations in adolescence predict adult life satisfaction? Family Relations, 67(4), 552-566.

Jung, E., & Zhang, Y. (2016). Parental involvement, children’s aspirations, and achievement in new immigrant families. The Journal of Educational Research, 109 (4), 333-350.

Paternal and Maternal Cognitive and Social Engagement in 25 African Countries: Links to Preschoolers Literacy and Social Skills

Category: Parent-Child Cognitive Engagement

This project utilized the UNICEF Micro-Indicator Cluster Surveys to explore within and across country patterns of associations between maternal and paternal cognitive engagement and preschoolers’ early literacy skills in 25 low- and middle-income African countries. The results should assist in unpacking the importance of early parent-child cognitive engagement and access to early education and literacy materials in the home for early childhood development in developing countries. Countries included in the research are Algeria, Benin, Cameroon, Chad, Central African Republic, Congo, Cote d’Ivoire, Democratic Republic of Congo, Gambia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea Bissau, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Swaziland, Togo, Tunisia, and Zimbabwe. Investigators include Jaipaul L. Roopnarine and Elif Dede Yildirim (Auburn University).

Project Status: Project is nearing completion. Students interested in learning more should contact Jaipaul Lalla Roopnarine, jroopnar@syr.edu.

Paternal and Maternal Cognitive and Social Engagement in Caribbean and African Countries: Links to Preschoolers Literacy and Social Skills

Category: Parent-Child Cognitive Engagement

There has been increasing attempts to discern culture-specific from pan-cultural processes and outcomes in human development. In an attempt to further examine cultural developmental pathways to childhood development, we tapped into the UNICEF Micro-Indicator Cluster Surveys (MICS) to determine links between fathers’ and mothers’ engagement in social and cognitive activities and preschoolers’ early literacy and social skills in 6 Caribbean and 25 African countries. In the first set of analyses, we found inconsistent patterns of associations between mothers’ and fathers’ cognitive and social engagement and preschoolers’ cognitive and social skills across Barbados, Belize, the Dominican Republic, Guyana, Jamaica, and Suriname. Preschool enrollment, literacy materials in the home, and material wealth were the most consistent predictors of children’s early literacy skills across Caribbean countries. A meta-analysis revealed that across the African countries, maternal and paternal cognitive engagement and preschool education were more consistently associated with children’s early literacy skills. These results underline the importance of early parent-child cognitive engagement and access to early education and literacy materials in the home for early childhood development in developing countries.

Project Status: We are currently analyzing data on the African families and children. Students interested in learning more should contact Jaipaul Lalla Roopnarine, jroopnar@syr.edu.

Socialization Behaviors and Child/Adolescent Adjustment

Category: Socialization Behaviors

In addition to the study of interparental conflict/violence, Dr. Ambika Krishnakumar has also worked on several research projects where the primary focus is on the conceptualization and operationalization of parental socialization behaviors as well as the association between socialization behaviors and child/youth development across cultural contexts. She has conducted research studies on this subject in the Caribbean particularly in Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago; and also in Eastern Europe, China, India, and the United States. She has further broadened her study of socialization behaviors and young children’s adjustment to investigating these topics in Trinidadian, Indian, and Caribbean immigrant families.

Project Status: Project is ongoing. Students interested in learning more should contact Ambika Krishnakumar, akrishna@syr.edu.

Selected Publications:

Roopnarine, J. L., Wang, Y., & Krishnakumar, A. (2017). Moderating role of social support on the associations between individual level factors and depressive symptoms in young adults in Guyana and Trinidad and Tobago. West Indian Medical Journal, 66, 294-298. doi: 10.7727/wimj.2015.355

Krishnakumar, A., Narine, L., & Roopnarine, J. L., & Logie, C. (2014). Multilevel and cross-level effects of neighborhood and family influences on children’s behavioral outcomes in Trinidad and Tobago: The intervening role of parental control. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 42, 1057–1068. doi: 10.1007/s10802-014-9852-2

Wang, Y., Krishnakumar, A., & Narine, L. (2014). Parenting practices and adolescent smoking behaviors in Chinese society: the mediating role of smoking-related cognitions. Journal of Adolescence, 37, 915-925. doi:10.1016/j.adolescence.2014.06.010

Study of Child/Adult Health and Development Using Interdisciplinary Approaches

Category: Public Health

Along with collaborators in different countries, Dr. Ambika Krishnakumar has studied major public health issues such as adolescent smoking behaviors (China), women’s depressive symptoms (Trinidad and Tobago), and older adults’ physical health (Thailand). Cultural norms and practices play a role in how families react to health-related situations (e.g., how they define and interpret their symptoms) and how they respond to medical treatment. She and her colleagues have also examined children/youth health concerns in other cultural communities (e.g., Caribbean: Journal of Pediatric Psychology; China: Journal of Adolescence; Eastern Europe: Journal of Child and Family Studies) and have written papers on the need to address various methodological challenges as well as the necessity to incorporate contextual and cultural sensitivity in the investigation of child health issues (e.g., Handbook of Pediatric Psychology, Journal of Pediatric Psychology). She has in recent years examined some major public health issues such as adolescent smoking behaviors (China), women’s depressive symptoms (Trinidad and Tobago), and older adults’ physical health (Thailand). In each of these continuing areas of study, she has examined the role of the individual factors, family stressors, and coping strategies on health across the lifespan.

Project Status: Project is ongoing. Students interested in learning more should contact Ambika Krishnakumar, akrishna@syr.edu.

Selected Publications:

Krishnakumar, A., Narine, L., Roopnarine, J. L., & Logie, C. (2018). Sociodemographic, psychosocial and physical health correlates of common mental disorder symptoms among mothers in Trinidad and Tobago: Examining ethnic variations. International Journal of Psychology, 53, 304-312.

Krishnakumar, A., Narine, L., Soonthorndhada, A., & Thianlai, K. (2014). Family stressors, home demands and responsibilities, coping resources, social connectedness, and Thai older adult health problems: Examining gender variations. Journal of Aging and Health, 27, 257-283. doi: 10.1177/0898264314549658

Narine, L. Krishnakumar, A., Roopnarine, J. L., & Logie, C. (2013). A multilevel analysis of the health challenges of growing up poor in Trinidad and Tobago neighborhoods: Understanding the role of parental health and health beliefs. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 38, 1144-1154. doi:10.1093/jpepsy/jst059