Human Development and Family Studies News

Dr. Deborah J. Johnson was nominated by the Student and Early Career Council (SECC) of the Socity for Child Development to serve in the role of Leader for the "Lunch with Leaders" at the SRCD Biennial Meeting in March 2015.  "Lunch with Leaders" provides a forum for students to interact with senior scholars who have central roles in the field of child development and the Society.

The article entitled "Beyond the Pencil: Expanding the Occupational Therapists' Role in the Early Childhood Classroom" by HDFS faculty members Dr. Hope Gerde and Dr. Lori Skibbe, and HDFS doctoral candidate Trish Foster, was among the most downloaded articles for the Open Journal of Occulational Therapy.  The article identifies the critical role emergent writing plays in early childhood literacy development and how to effectively assess young children's writing ability.  Practical guidance is provided to identify specific ways that Occupational Therapists can merge their occupation-centered approach with their expertise in writing to serve as a key resource for classroom teachers and enhance the writing development of all children.


Gerde, H. K., Foster, T. D., & Skibbe, L. E. (2014). Beyond the pencil: Expanding the occupational therapists' role in early childhood classroom.  The Open Journal of Occupational Therapy, 2(1), 1-19.

Dr. Ryan Bowles, co-Principal Investigator, and Julie Libarkin, a colleague from the College of Natural Sciences, were awarded a $225,000 grant from the National Science Foundation to develop an assessment of geosciences knowledge for undergraduate students. The project will be utilizing Dr. Bowles' expertise in measurement to create an assessment that can examine geosciences knowledge at college entry and the development of the knowledge during college.

HDFS Assistant Professor, Erica Tobe, was featured in the Detroit Free Press for her contributions to Money Smart Week.  Money Smart Week is a public awareness initiative held during the week of April 18th through the 25th that focuses on educating consumers about best finacial practices.  The HDFS Department and MSU Extension will be hosting the "GeoCache for College Cash" hunt as part of a finacial resource fair for Michigan State University students on Thursday, April 23rd from 6:00-8:00PM in room 300 Human Ecology Building.

As HDFS concentrates on strategic excellence in research, teaching and outreach in Michigan and across the globe, the department welcomes two administrative innovations.  Dr. Adrian Blow has been appointed as the Associate Chair for Research and will lead the development of support systems and policies to facilitate faculty and student excellence in research.  Dr. Blow is well-qualified for this position.  He has received large federal and foundation funding for his applied research on stress in military families, state-of-the-art training for mental health workers, and research on family stress and resiliency as it relates to HIV/AIDS.  Dr. Blow has research connections across the state, nationally, and internationally, including his long-time connections in Africa.  Dr. Francisco (Chico) Villarruel has been appointed as the Associate Chair for Education and Outreach.  Dr. Villarruel will lead the development of support systems and policies to facilitate faculty and student excellence in education and outreach.  One of the initiatives Dr. Villarruel will be leading is developing a systematic mentorship program to assist students in submitting pre-doctoral and postdoctoral grant applications.  Dr. Villarruel has a long history of outreach scholarship and national leadership on federal grant and policy panels for disenfranchised minority youth.  The department looks forward to the important roles both Associate Chairs will play in efforts to support the continued success of faculty and students.