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PhD Students

Amanda Capannola

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Amanda is from Nashville, TN.  She received her B.A. in American Studies from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville.  Her major professor is Dr. Elizabeth Johnson.  Amanda’s primary research interests include racial and economic justice in practice as a means to address and understand the well-being of adolescents with marginalized identities.


Kayley Davis

Kayley Davis

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Kayley is from Knoxville, TN. She received her B.A. in Psychology and M.S. in Child and Family Studies from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her major professor is Dr. Spencer Olmstead. Kayley’s research focuses on young/emerging adult sexual health and well-being, including motivations, various types of sexual relationships, and the effect of sexually transmitted infections on well-being.


Macy HalladayMacy Halladay

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Macy is from Brea, California. She received her B.S. in Family Studies from Brigham Young University and her M.S. in Marriage and Family Therapy for the University of Southern California.  Her major professor is Dr. Elizabeth Johnson.  Macy’s research focuses on studying the effects of information technology and innovation on youth development in diverse or marginalized populations, through an interdisciplinary perspective.


Tanner Kilpatrick

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Tanner is from Abilene, Texas. He received his B.S. in Animal Science and a MEd. in Agricultural Education from Texas A&M University. He also received his M.S. in Child and Family Studies from the University of Tennessee. His major professor is Dr. Elizabeth Johnson. Tanner uses quantitative methods and focuses broadly on accumulated stressors, particularly among those who have ever been incarcerated. His current work focuses on romantic relationships among individuals who have ever been incarcerated.


Geoff MabeGeoff Mabe

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Geoff Mabe is from Knoxville, TN. He received his B.A. in Bible and Psychology (double major) from Freed-Hardeman University, his M.A in General Psychology from East Tennessee State University, and his M.A. in Marriage and Family Therapy/Professional Counseling from Johnson University. His major professor is Dr. Delores Smith. Geoff’s research is focused on religion as a coping mechanism for adult children who have witnessed interparental conflict.


Wendy McLean Cooke

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Wendy is from Redlight District, St. Andrew, Jamaica. She holds an MSW, a B.A. in Literatures in English, a postgraduate diploma in English Education and a diploma in Social Work from the University of the West Indies, Mona, Jamaica. Her advisor is Dr. Delores Smith. Wendy’s research focuses on fathering in different family contexts, particularly on how fathers in Caribbean families and step-families are situated in terms of their roles and responsibilities as well as the meaning they ascribe to their fathering experiences.


Lucia Miranda

Lucia Miranda

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Lucia Miranda is from Montevideo, Uruguay. She received her B.S. in Psychology and M.S. in Clinical Mental Health Counseling from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Lucia’s main research interests focus on risks and resilience in early socioemotional development and attachment formation, and how these affect relationship functioning throughout the lifespan.


LaGraff, Melissa

Melissa Rector LaGraff

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Melissa is from Chattanooga, TN.  She received her B.S. in Human Ecology and M.S. in Child and Family Studies from the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her major professor is Dr. Heidi Stolz. Melissa’s research examines how to improve family functioning through family policies and parenting education that encourages effective parenting practices.


Ashlyn Schwartz

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Ashlyn Schwartz is from Atlanta, Georgia. She received her B.S. in Exercise Science from Kennesaw State University and her M.S. in Exercise Physiology from The University of Tennessee, Knoxville. Her major professor is Dr. Julia Jaekel. Using a life course perspective, Ashlyn’s research focuses on understanding developmental processes of infants and children with biological and social risk.


Siera Schwanz

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Siera is from Gothenburg, Nebraska. She received her B.S. from the University of Nebraska- Kearney in Family Studies with a minor in Early Childhood Education. Siera currently has assistantships with Dr. Amy Rauer and Dr. Spencer Olmstead. Her primary, and very broad, research focus is on romantic relationships, relationship satisfaction, and commitment.


Melissa Swartzentruber

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Melissa is from Lexington, Kentucky. She received her B.A. in Mathematics and M.A.T. with K-6 teacher licensure from Belmont University in Nashville. She has spent the last 7 years teaching children in kindergarten and first grade. Melissa’s research interests include examining the social and emotional development of young children and how various cultural contexts affect that development. 


Jennifer Cornwell, PhDJennifer Ward

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Jennifer is from Knoxville, TN.  She received her B.A. in Psychology and Women’s and Gender Studies from Furman University and her master’s in Public Health, Health Planning and Administration from the University of Tennessee.  She is currently working with Dr. Hillary Fouts and Dr. Julia Jaekel.  Her research is focused on infant care patterns among displaced people, especially refugee mothers from Sub-Saharan Africa.


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