Human Development and Family Studies News

Dr. Amy Nuttall, new assistant professor in HDFS, is featured today in MSU’s headlines for her recently published study on the relationship between parentification and parenting quality:  Dr. Nuttall’s most recent research concentrates on sibling and family dynamics in families with a child with autism or other neurodevelopmental condition.



Amy can be reached at:

The Department of Human Development and Family Studies (HDFS), in the College of Social Science at Michigan State University, seeks an outstanding scholar to join the faculty as Assistant Professor. The scholar will be closely affiliated with the department’s Lifespan Human Development and Family Diversity (LHDFD) area, with strong support from federally-funded faculty within other areas in the department that address gender-based violence. The position will also be strongly linked to, and collaborations expected with, Michigan State University’s Research Consortium on Gender-Based Violence (RCGV)—a university-wide initiative that includes social justice-oriented research collaborations focused on the assessment, prevention and response to gender-based violence among individuals, families, and communities, involving scholars from the College of Social Science, the College of Law, the College of Human Medicine, and the College of Nursing. The critical desired area of expertise for the current position includes applied intervention science. Within this prevention intervention framework, skills in applied interventions to prevent gender-based violence and reduce its harmful impacts in the critical transition from adolescence to young adulthood are of high priority. In particular, candidates are desired who expand upon the department’s intervention expertise in preventing gender-based violence, including sexual violence, among adolescents transitioning to young adulthood, such as on college campuses and in residential communities. To facilitate this line of intervention research and to facilitate collaborations across projects in MSU’s Research Consortium on Gender-based Violence, candidates with strong methodological skills in implementing complex research designs, such as randomized controlled trial implementation, are preferred. A successful candidate will be able to secure extramural funding for research.

• An earned doctorate in Human Development & Family Studies, Public Health, Psychology, Epidemiology, Sociology, Social Work, or related areas at the time of the position start
• A promising record of scholarly publications and granting potential
• A strong commitment to externally funded research
• A strong commitment to excellence in teaching
• A strong commitment to active participation in leading professional organizations focused on prevention science and gender-based violence

• Experience in acquiring and administering external grants
• A strong interest in relating to the programs and research at Michigan State University’s Research Consortium on Gender-based Violence
• Strong interest in working with cross-disciplinary research teams

APPOINTMENT: This is a 9-month full time tenure-stream position beginning August 16, 2016. Salary for the position is negotiable and commensurate with qualifications and experience. Inquiries can be direct to the Search Committee Chair, Dr. Francisco Villarruel, (517-432-7298). Applicants are asked to submit a curriculum vitae describing career experience along with a letter describing qualifications and interest in the position, a description of their program of research, teaching, and supervision philosophy, as well as a reflection on their fit with the department, college, and university. In addition, candidates should supply contact information for three references. Applications must be submitted online at The posting number for this position is 1284. Application review begins on 10/1/2015 and will continue until the position is filled. Michigan State University offers an excellent selection of benefits; please see for more information. MSU is an affirmative action, equal opportunity employer. MSU is committed to achieving excellence through cultural diversity. The university actively encourages applications and/or nominations of women, persons of color, Veterans, and persons with disabilities.

HDFS is a multi-disciplinary unit with diverse faculty, administratively structured in three areas: Child Development; Couple and Family Therapy; and Lifespan Human Development and Family Diversity. HDFS faculty are actively engaged in competitively-funded research, and are national leaders in research and outreach to prevent gender-based violence—including projects that addresses critical risk and resiliency factors in the transition from adolescence to adulthood across diverse populations and cultural adaptation of interventions for diverse populations. Current sources of funding include the National Institutes of Health, the US Department of Health and Human Services, the US Department of Defense, the US Department of Education, the US Department of Agriculture, and local, state, and national foundations. HDFS is also home to a number of major endowments. Recent NIH funding in the department in the area of gender-based violence is focused on prevention interventions with underserved populations and with a clear gender-based approach. Other funding and research projects on gender-based violence in the department include assessment and intervention in at-risk adolescents and young adults, and prevention training for school, healthcare, and law enforcement professionals. HDFS faculty are committed to scholarly excellence, with an appreciation for MSU’s land-grant philosophy and an emphasis on community-based applied research. The rich multi-cultural, multi-national student population provides an opulent context for HDFS faculty to practice, teach, and conduct research. For more information please visit

Dr. Lori Skibbe has been awarded a Special Education Research Grant from the Institute of Education Sciences (IES).  Funding for the project will total approximately $1.6 million over the course of four years.

Dr. Skibbe's team will develop a computerized adaptive test of phonological awareness called the Inventory of Phonological Awareness using Alternative Responses (IPAAR).  Phonological awareness, the explicit awareness of and ability to manipulate the sound structure of language, is a key predictor of later literacy development. Currently there are no standardized, validated tools of phonological awareness suited to meet the needs of children with disabilities that limit their speech production, despite the citical nature of this early literacy skill.  This project will address this gap by developing the IPAAR to assess levels of phonological awareness for a wide range of children with and without disabilities.

The development and evaluation of the IPAAR will occur over the course of three phases and will be administered to approximately 300 children in preschool or early elementary school with speech production difficultites.

Congratulations, Dr. Skibbe!

Erica Rouleau (Doctoral Student) and Dr. Andrea WIttenborn were awarded the "Cutting Edge Research" distinction from over a hundred abstracts accepted for the 2015 Annual American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy Conference. Their work on predictors of development and the course of the therapeutic alliance will be presented in Austin, Texas. Congratulations, Erica and Dr. Wittenborn!

The Child Development Laboratories, in conjunction with Central Michigan Association for the Education of Young Children (CMAEYC) and Lansing Community College, hosted the Coming Together for Children conference on February 14th.  Over 400 participants were in attendence.  Laurie Linscott (Director of the CDL), Julie Brower (Assistant Director), and Jen Davis (Head Teacher) sit on the conference planning committee.  The year, nine current and former Child Development majrs served as moderators at the conference.  Head Teachers share their expertises through conference presentations.

To view the presentations, you can go to the CDL site,