A Message from the Department Head (2018-2019)

Welcome to the Department of Human Development and Family Studies!

Eva S. Lefkowitz
Eva S. Lefkowitz


Our faculty and students engage in the teaching and study of the development and wellbeing of individuals and families across the lifespan. This focus includes understanding wellbeing of individuals and families; interactions and processes within families; and individuals and families in societal and cultural context. Alumni of our undergraduate program go on to a range of careers in counseling, education, advocacy, non-profit work, health, business, and research, with a range of populations including infants and young children, adolescents, older adults, couples, and families. Alumni of our graduate program often end up as faculty in human development and family studies, psychology, or other disciplines. Other graduate alumni work in applied research, policy, or government settings. Our faculty includes the directors of four research centers (Center for Applied Research in Human Development, Center for the Study of Culture, Health, and Human Development, Center for the Study of Interpersonal Acceptance and Rejection and UConn Rudd Center for Food Policy & Obesity) and strong ties with the Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention, and Policy and the Human Rights Institute.

Given our faculty and students’ productivity and accomplishments, it’s impossible to briefly summarize all the recent news in HDFS. However, here are some highlights:

  • Rebecca Puhl and Marlene Schwartz received tenure this year, and Alaina Brenick and Linda Halgunseth were both promoted to associate professor with tenure.
  • Laura Donorfio received the University Teaching Fellows Award from CETL, and the 2018 CLAS Excellence in Teaching Award for Behavioral and Life Sciences.
  • Keith Bellizzi serves as Special Advisor to the National Cancer Institute; in this role, he provides guidance on a national initiative to address gaps in research and care for older adults with multiple chronic illnesses.
  • Ron Rohner received the American Psychological Association’s Henry David International Mentoring Award.
  • Lisa Eaton serves as principal investigator on almost $8 million in grants, and co-investigator on another $5 million. All grants address HIV prevention in high risk populations.
  • Doctoral student Joy Heafner received the Jessie Bernard Outstanding Research Proposal from a Feminist Perspective from the National Council on Family Relations (NCFR).
  • Doctoral student Kevin Hynes received an AAMFT/SAMHSA Minority Fellowship.
  • Doctoral student Hyeseong Kang was selected as UConn’s Graduate Student Intern of the Year by the Center for Career Development.
  • The UConn Child Development Laboratories achieved a new, five-year term of NAEYC accreditation, scoring in the top 25% of the already small group of programs that actually receive NAEYC accreditation.

HDFS faculty’s research, and the training that HDFS graduate and undergraduate students engage in, are critical for addressing some of the critical concerns of our society. I look forward to my third year at UConn working with the people who make up the HDFS department.