Human Development and Family Studies

Jin Qu and Esther Leerkes at hooding ceremony
Dr. Leerkes and Dr. Jin Qu at 2017 hooding/graduation ceremony.

Current Postdocs

Mairin Augustine

Mairin Augustine, PhD

Mairin earned her Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies from Penn State University in 2016. She is working under the primary mentorship of Dr. Leerkes while completing a Carolina Consortium on Human Development postdoctoral fellowship through the Center for Developmental Science at UNC Chapel Hill (T32-HD07376). She is interested in how parenting interacts and transacts with infant/child temperamental qualities to predict positive self-regulatory outcomes in early development.
Elif Isbell

Elif Isbell, PhD

Elif received her Ph.D. in Psychology (Cognitive Neuroscience) from the University of Oregon in 2015. After working as a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Oregon, she joined the S.T.A.R. (School Transitions and Academic Readiness) Project in July 2016 as a postdoctoral fellow. Her research interests are centered on individual differences in the development and neuroplasticity of building blocks of cognition, with a particular focus on attention, working memory, inhibitory control, and cognitive flexibility. Three core themes constitute the framework of her research interests: a) biological and contextual factors associated with such individual differences in early childhood; b) how these individual differences interact with socioemotional development, especially in relation to school readiness and early school success; and c) how these individual differences moderate responsiveness to prevention and intervention efforts.

Current Graduate Students:

Pamela Norcross who is interested in infant development, attachment, maternal behaviors, and early parenting.

Lauren Bailes who is interested in infant emotional development (e.g., temperament, emotion regulation), parent-infant interactions, and infant physiological regulation.

Recent Graduate Students:

Jin Qu, Ph.D. (2017)
Dissertation: Identifying Adaptive Emotion Regulation Behaviors Among Infants
Current Employment: Postdoctoral Fellow, Psychology Department, Penn State University

Angel Dunbar with her dissertation committee
Angel Dunbar with her committee after her dissertation defense
From left to right: Susan Calkins, Esther Leerkes, Angel Dunbar, Stephanie Coard, and Andy Supple

Angel Dunbar, Ph.D. (2016)
Dissertation: Sociocultural Predictors of Parental Racial and Emotion Socialization and Relations to Child Social-Emotional Adjustment
Current Employment: Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of African American Studies, University of Maryland

Lindsey Gedaly, M.S. (2015)
Thesis: Environment and genetic predictors of infant attachment disorganization.
Currently Doctoral student in HDFS at UNCG

Meagan Matthews, M.S. (2013)
Thesis: Psychosocial Predictors of Breastfeeding Initiation and Duration
Current Employment: Parent Educator, United Cerebral Palsy of Greater Birmingham

Jessica Gudmundson, Ph.D. (2012)
Current Position: Project Manager, Spelman College
Dissertation: Links Between Maternal Education and Parenting During Children's First Three Years: The Moderating Role of Income and Partner Status

Stephanie Parade, Ph.D. (2010)
Current Position: Research Assistant Professor, Alpert School of Medicine, Brown University
Dissertation: Marital Satisfaction Across The Transition To Parenthood: A Vulnerability-Stress-Adaptation Perspective.

Regan Burney, Ph.D. (2010).
Dissertation: Links Between Temperament and Coparenting: The Moderating Role Of Family Characteristics.
Current employment: Project Manager, Children's Healthy Weight Research Group, UNC-Chapel Hill, Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.

Kathy Siepak, Ph.D. (2008).
Current position: Assistant Professor of Early Childhood Education, University of Texas of the Permian Basin
Dissertation: Longitudinal Influences of Maternal Sensitivity on Infant Temperamental Reactivity and Emotion Regulation

Dr. Leerkes with Dr Jessica Gudmundson at graduation Dr. Leerkes with Meagan Matthews
(Jessica Gudmundson & Esther Leerkes, May 2012) Esther Leerkes & Meagan Matthews, HDFS Graduation Recognition Ceremony, May 2013
Esther with students at graduation

Stephanie Parade, Esther Leerkes, and Regan Burney at hooding ceremony, December 2010.

Esther with students at graduation

Esther Leerkes & Lindsey Gedaly, HDFS Graduation Recognition Ceremony, 2015