Current Fellows

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2016-2017 CCHD Postdoctoral Fellows
Follow links for individual bios
Back row: Hayley Estrem, Ph.D., Michaeline Jensen, Ph.D., Sherika Hill, Ph.D.
Front row: Helen Milojevich, Ph.D., Mairin Augustine, Ph.D.

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2016-2017 CCHD Predoctoral Fellows
Follow links for individual bios
Back row: Margaret Anton, Drew Rothenberg, Jon Schaefer, Todd Jensen
Front row: Rebeccah Sokol, Jessica Bullins, Robert Carr, Kesha Hudson

Postdoctoral Fellows

Mairin Augustine, Ph.D.

Human Development and Family Studies
Pennsylvania State University
Graduate Mentor: Cynthia Stifter, Ph.D.
CCHD Mentor: Ester Leerkes, Ph.D.

Mairin’s research focuses on the contributions of temperament and early parenting experiences on children’s socioemotional and self-regulatory development. Specifically, she is interested in how children’s temperamental predispositions alter the influence of specific parenting qualities and behaviors on these developmental outcomes, and what parenting behaviors and interactive contexts are most informative in predicting positive outcomes in children of differing temperamental characteristics and types. To date she has utilized behavioral observations and parent-report data from longitudinal studies to examine temperament-based influences of parenting behavior in varying interactive contexts on children’s moral behavior, approach to novelty, behavioral regulation, and behavior problems.
As a CCHD postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Developmental Science, Mairin plans to incorporate parental individual differences into these patterns by utilizing reported, behavioral, and physiological measures of maternal and child functioning from the Triad Child Study. She will investigate if maternal characteristics and reactive/regulatory tendencies interact with infant temperament to predict parenting relevant to self-regulatory development, as well as how maternal and child characteristics interact and/or transact in the first years of life to predict child regulation and behavior problems. She hopes to accomplish this by applying varying developmental and/or mixture modeling techniques to the longitudinal data collected in this study.


Augustine, M. E., Moding, K. J., & Stifter, C. A. (in press). Predicting toddler temperamental approach-withdrawal: Contributions of early approach tendencies, parenting behavior, and contextual novelty. Journal of Research in Personality (special issue on Child Personality).
Murphy, T. P., Laible, D., Augustine, M., & Robeson, L. (2015). Attachment’s links with social emotions: The roles of negative emotionality and emotion regulation. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 176, 312-329.
Augustine, M. E., & Stifter, C. A. (2015). Parenting, temperament, and moral development: Specificity of behavior and context. Social Development, 24, 285-303.
Laible, D., Carlo, G., Murphy, T. P., Augustine, M., & Roesch, S. (2014). Predicting children’s prosocial and co-operative behaviors from negative emotionality and self-regulation: A person-centered approach. Social Development, 23, 734-752.
Laible, D., Murphy, T., & Augustine, M. (2014). Adolescents’ aggressive and prosocial behaviors: Links with social information processing, negative emotionality, moral affect, and moral cognition. Journal of Genetic Psychology, 175, 270-286.
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Hayley Henrikson Estrem, RN, Ph.D.

UNC-Chapel Hill, 2015
Graduate Mentor: Suzanne Thoyre, RN, FAAN, Ph.D.
CCHD Mentor: Eric Hodges, RN, Ph.D.

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A registered nurse since 2002, Hayley’s primary research interests began with a desire to improve family-centered care for children with feeding problems and developmental disabilities. Her research interests include measure development, feeding treatment program evaluation, and family management of feeding disorder for children in late infancy and early childhood. Her dissertation consisted of three studies: the concept of feeding problems as available in the literature, how parents perceive the concept of feeding problems, and a description of how families manage caring for children with clinically significant feeding difficulty. She has represented families of children 0-5 years old with disabilities at state and local levels, and although her child with developmental disabilities now attends elementary school, she maintains high interest in the needs of the early intervention population. Beginning in 2009, Hayley has been a member of UNC’s Feeding Flock, an interdisciplinary research team with a mission to partner with families to nurture young children with feeding difficulties.  As a member of the Feeding Flock team, she is working to develop psychometrically sound measures of pediatric feeding difficulty; these measures are the much needed building blocks for building a foundation of evidence based, and patient and family-centered care for children with pediatric feeding disorders.
As a CCHD postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Developmental Science, Hayley will be mentored by Dr. Eric Hodges. PhD, FNP-BC. Through Dr. Hodges’ recently funded R21 Enhancing Caregiver-Infant Communication to Prevent Obesity with the Sign with Your Baby intervention, Hayley will explore how the integration observational data, physiologic data (namely respiratory sinus arrhythmia), and parent self-report could be applied to her population of interest, infants and young children with feeding disorder.  Hayley will also continue to contribute to the mission and projects of the Feeding Flock, with a specific focus on psychometric testing of the family management of feeding measure (FaMM Feed).  Additionally, she will finalize a secondary analysis of trajectory of feeding care and symptoms using data the team collected (UNC’s School of Medicine, Allied Health, Dr. Cara McComish PhD, CCC-SLP, primary study PI). This study will be a first look at how feeding problem symptoms change over time for children of varying initial feeding function and medical complexity, how care goals of parents and providers are similar or discrepant, and the amount of time an infant or child had parent identified feeding difficulty before receiving specialized feeding care.


Estrem, H., Pados, B.F., Thoyre, S., Knafl, K., McComish, C., and Park, J. (2016). Concept of pediatric feeding problems from the parents’ perspective. The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing (MCN), 41(4), 212-220.
Pados, B.F., Park, J., Estrem, H., & Awotwi, A. (2016). Assessment tools for evaluation of oral feeding in infants less than 6 months old. Advances in Neonatal Care, 16(2), 143-150. doi:10.1097/ANC.0000000000000255
Pados, B.F., Park, J., Thoyre, S., Estrem, H., & Nix, B. (2016). Milk flow rates from bottle nipples used after hospital discharge. The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, 41(4), 237-243.
Park, J., Thoyre, S., Estrem, H., Pados, B. F., Knafl, G. J., & Brandon, B. (2016). Effects of Psychological Distress on Mothers’ Feeding of Their Preterm Infants. The American Journal of Maternal/Child Nursing, 41(4), 221-229.
Pados, B.F., Thoyre, S., Estrem, H., Park, J., Knafl, G., & Nix, B. (2016). Effects of milk flow on the physiologic and behavioral responses to feeding in an infant with hypoplastic left heart syndrome. Cardiology in the Young. 1-15.
Pados, B.F., Park, J., Thoyre, S., Estrem, H., & Nix, W.B. (2015). Milk flow rates from bottle nipples used for feeding hospitalized infants. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 24(4), 671-679.
Pados, B., Park, J., Thoyre, S., Estrem, H., & Nix, B. (2015). Milk flow rates from bottle nipples used for feeding fragile infants after hospital discharge [Abstract]. Advances in Neonatal Care, 15 (3), E3-E15.
Thoyre, S., Pados, B., Park, J., Estrem, H., Hodges, E. McComish, C., Van Riper, M., & Murdock, K. (2013). Initial development and content validity of the Pediatric Eating Assessment Tool (Pedi-EAT). American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 23, 1-14.
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Sherika Hill, Ph.D.

Maternal and Child Health
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2013
Graduate Mentor: Jonathan Kotch, MD, MPH
CCHD Mentor: Jane Costello, Ph.D.

Sherika’s research broadly focuses on risk factors and outcomes of maladaptive child development. As a graduate student, her dissertation research focused on the longitudinal relationship between early child care participation and early childhood obesity among low-income African Americans. Her work investigated how the number and type of child care arrangements used in the first months after birth impacted weight outcomes at two years of age. As a postdoctoral researcher, she expanded her research interests to include outcomes related to mental health and wellbeing. Also, she began assessing outcomes across development. In this vein, she examined Positive Youth Development among adolescents with chronic illnesses and researched predictors and correlates of cannabis use trajectories from adolescence to adulthood.
As a CCHD postdoctoral fellow, Sherika seeks to better understand the interplay between social and biological risk factors by interrogating how epigenetics influence health outcomes. She aims to identify aberrant DNA methylation (DNAm) patterns that contribute to maladaptive development in childhood and subsequent poor outcomes in adulthood. She is specifically interested in the role that socioeconomic disparities play in triggering and perpetuating DNAm; thereby influencing diverging physical and mental health trajectories across the life course.


Alkon A., Crowley A., Benjamin Neelon S., Pan Y., Savage E., Hill S.N., Nguyen V., Kotch J.B. The NAP SACC Intervention in Child Care Centers in 3 States Improves Nutrition and Physical Activity Knowledge, Policies, Practices and Children’s BMI. BMC Public Health 2014;14:215.
Maslow G., Hill S.N. Chronic Illness and character development in children. World Journal of Clinical Pediatrics. In press
Maslow G., Hill S.N., et al. Character development pilot evaluation of two studies for youth with chronic illnesses. Journal of Youth Development. In press
Hill S.N., Thompson A., Kotch J., Wasser H., Bentley M. Early child care and infant obesity at three months among low-income African-Americans in North Carolina. In review
Hill S.N., Thompson A., Kotch J., Yi P., Bentley M. Early child care and infant obesity from 6-18 months of age among low-income African-Americans in North Carolina. In review
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Michaeline Jensen, Ph.D.

Clinical Psychology
Arizona State University, 2016
Graduate Mentor: Nancy Gonzales, Ph.D.
CCHD Mentor: Andrea Hussong, Ph.D.

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Michaeline’s research focuses on better understanding the development of adolescent substance use and risk taking behaviors within family, peer, neighborhood, and cultural contexts.  Michaeline is particularly interested in the interplay between individual vulnerabilities (e.g. disinhibition) and aspects of the social-cultural environment.  Her dissertation research examined how sensation seeking risk for adolescent substance use could potentially be moderated by individual executive inhibition, parental controls, and level of neighborhood organization.  Findings highlighted that both relatively advantaged and relatively disadvantaged neighborhoods can facilitate the expression of sensation seeking risk for adolescent substance use initiation.  Michaeline’s research has also included a focus on the role of social processes in preventive intervention, finding that a middle school prevention program tailored for Mexican American youth reduced levels of parent-adolescent conflict, and that these reductions in parent-adolescent conflict mediated program effects on late high school levels of internalizing symptoms, externalizing symptoms, and substance use.
As a CCHD fellow, Michaeline plans to extend her interest in social contexts to include a focus on leveraging novel communication technologies to better assess adolescent and young adult substance use and its correlates.  She looks forward to collaborating with Dr. Andrea Hussong to investigate how young adult SMS communications with parents and peers impact substance use behaviors.  This line of research will extend a large body of research emphasizing the importance of parent-child relationships and peer influence, and inform the field’s understanding of how the increasingly prevalent method of text message communication plays a part in these relationships.  Michaeline also plans to work with Dr. Candice Odgers using Ecological Momentary Assessment (EMA) data to investigate the interplay between early adolescent social relationships and features of the physical environment.


Jensen, M., & Dishion, T.J. (2015). Mechanisms and Processes of Peer Contagion. In D.S. Dunn (Ed.), Oxford Bibliographies in Psychology.  New York: Oxford University Press.
Jensen, M., Wong, J., Gonzales, N. A., Dumka, L. E., Millsap, R., & Coxe, S. (2014). Long-term effects of a universal family intervention: Mediation through parent-child conflict. Journal of Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychology, 43(3):415-27.
Gonzales, N.A., Jensen, M., Montano, Z., & Wynne, H. (2014). The Cultural Adaptation and Mental health of Mexican American Adolescents.  In Y.M. Caldera & E. Lindsey (Eds.), Mexican American Children and Families: Multidisciplinary Perspectives.  Routledge.
Rohrbaugh, M.J., Shoham, V., Skoyen, J.A., Jensen, M., & Mehl, M.R. (2012). We-talk, communal coping, and cessation success in a couple-focused intervention for health compromised smokers. Family Process, 5(1), 107-121.
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Helen Milojevich, Ph.D.

Developmental Psychology
University of California, Irvine, 2016
Graduate Mentors: Jodi Quas, Ph.D.; Angela Lukowski, Ph.D.
CCHD Mentors:  Mary Haskett, Ph.D.; Amy Halberstadt, Ph.D.

Helen Milojevich-postdoc 1617

Helen’s research examines emotional and cognitive development across the lifespan, particularly in high-risk populations, such as maltreated youth and children with developmental delays. For her dissertation, Helen investigated the role of maltreatment in the development of emotion regulation. In the study, two samples of children, ages 6-17, one with a substantiated history of maltreatment and one with no reported history of maltreatment, completed a battery of measures, including those tapping emotion regulation and behavioral functioning. Overall, maltreated children reported using more disengagement (e.g., avoidance) and antisocial regulation strategies relative to comparison children who reported more primary control (e.g., problem-solving) strategies. Moreover, differences between the two groups in emotion regulation increased with age. Finally, the use of disengagement strategies predicted poorer behavioral functioning (e.g., more aggression and conduct problems), particularly during adolescence. Findings have the potential to inform the treatment and intervention of maltreated children by determining the precise ways in which they differ from nonmaltreated children in their ability to regulate emotions, and how these emotion processes influence their functioning across age.
As a postdoctoral fellow at the Center for Developmental Science, Helen plans to extend her program of research by investigating the extent to which parents’ emotional competence (e.g., the ability to understand, express, and regulate one’s emotions) influences children’s emotional competence across development, particularly in a maltreatment context. Importantly, despite indications that parents play a crucial role in children’s development of emotional competence (EC) and evidence that harsh, abusive parenting may severely alter emotional functioning in children, there has yet to be a comprehensive investigation into the extent to which parents’ EC influences maltreated children’s emotional functioning. Moreover, to date research on maltreated children’s EC has been largely cross sectional and lacking in a strong developmental foundation. Helen will address these gaps in the extant literature through the utilization of data from Dr. Haskett’s Kindergarten Transition Study (KiTS). Helen plans to examine the development of maltreated children’s EC across age, as well as, test the correspondence between parents’ and children’s EC, and how this association changes over time. Helen also plans to investigate whether sociological and familial-contextual factors moderate the development of maltreated children’s EC over time and the correspondence between parents’ and children’s EC.


Lukowski, A. F., & Milojevich, H. M. (2016). Examining recall memory in infancy and early childhood using the elicited imitation paradigm. Journal of Visualized Experiments, 110, e53347.
Milojevich, H. M., & Lukowski, A. F. (2015). Recall memory in children with Down syndrome and typically developing peers matched on developmental age. Journal of Intellectual Disability Research, 60, 89-100.
Lukowski, A. F., & Milojevich, H. M. (2015). Relations between nighttime sleep quality and temperament in young adults: Differential contributions of nighttime sleep duration and sleep disruptions. Behavioral Sleep Medicine, 13, 217-230.
Lukowski, A. F., Phung, J. N., & Milojevich, H. M. (2015). Language facilitates event memory in early childhood: Child comprehension, adult-provided linguistic support, and delayed recall at 16 months. Memory, 23, 848-863.
Phung, J. N., Milojevich, H. M., & Lukowski, A. F. (2014). Adult language use and child comprehension abilities: Examining effects of encoding and generalization across cues at 20 months. Infant Behavior and Development, 37, 465-479.
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Predoctoral Fellows

Margaret Anton

Ph.D. candidate in Clinical Psychology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduate Mentor: Deborah Jones, Ph.D.
CCHD Mentor: Deborah Jones, Ph.D.


Margaret’s research interests focus broadly on the integration of technology and evidence-based practice to enhance mental health services for underserved populations, including low-income and ethnic minority children and families. Specifically, Margaret’s work applies developmental theory and methodology to understand the mediating processes of technology-enhanced interventions with the goal of informing future development of behavioral health technologies, as well as practice recommendations regarding when and for whom technology may be optimally helpful.
With this goal in mind, Margaret’s dissertation will use intensive longitudinal data analytic strategies to explore variability in therapeutic alliance (i.e., the quality and nature of the relationship between the therapist and client) between low-income families randomized to technology-enhanced behavioral parent training and those receiving standard behavioral parent training. Additionally, using a within group approach, she will examine how the interrelationship of technology use and alliance unfold overtime. Given the difficulty of engaging low-income families in treatment, these findings hold promise for elucidating the role of technology in fostering therapeutic alliance which, in turn, in may boost treatment response.
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Jessica Bullins

Ph.D. candidate in Neurobiology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduate Mentor: John Gilmore, M.D.
CCHD Mentors: Jennifer Coffman, Ph.D.; Jessica Cohen, Ph.D.

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Jessica is a fourth year doctoral student in the Neurobiology Curriculum at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her research focuses on understanding relationships between brain maturation and cognitive development in early postnatal life by integrating the fields of neuroscience and developmental psychology. Jessica’s interests lie broadly in understanding the neurobiological mechanisms that contribute to adaptive cognitive development and learning, with a specific focus on identifying sensitive periods of development during which deviations from typical trajectories may have the most severe long-term consequences. Jessica’s dissertation work will analyze brain-cognition relationships over time using a longitudinal dataset of neuroimaging, cognitive, and behavioral measures collected from birth to early childhood.The goal of her project is to contribute to our understanding of both the timing and impact of neurodevelopmental mechanisms on cognitive development.
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Robert Carr

Ph.D. Candidate in Applied Developmental Sciences
and Special Education
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduate Mentor: Lynne Vernon-Feagans, Ph.D
CCHD Mentor: Lynne Vernon-Feagans, Ph.D

Robert is a fourth-year doctoral student in the School of Education at UNC-Chapel Hill with an emphasis in Applied Developmental Science. His research interests broadly concern the study of early childhood education programs and children’s school readiness (e.g., language, emergent literacy, classroom behavior, etc.). In particular, he studies how the quality of pre-kindergarten classroom environments is related to the development of children’s school readiness skills across the transition from pre-k to kindergarten. Through these research efforts, Robert aims to inform basic scientific understanding as well as the design of classroom quality rating and improvement systems.
Robert’s graduate coursework has emphasized relevant training in education research, human development, and quantitative methodology. In addition to his doctoral studies, Robert has worked as a Graduate Research Assistant at UNC’s Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute as well as a Teaching Assistant in the School of Education’s Human Development and Family Studies program. As a CCHD pre-doctoral fellow, Robert plans to enhance his understanding of the longitudinal research, measurement, and statistical methodologies needed to advance the study of classrooms as a unique developmental context.
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Kesha Hudson

Ph.D. Candidate in Developmental Psychology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduate Mentor: Peter Ornstein, Ph.D
CCHD Mentor: Peter Ornstein, Ph.D


Kesha’s research lies at the intersection of psychology and education and is directed towards understanding children’s cognitive development in the context of early school experiences. Specifically, she is interested in both individual and contextual mechanisms underlying the emergence and subsequent sophistication of children’s higher order reasoning and problem-solving skills. In an effort to think about developmental change holistically, Kesha’s research focuses on educational aspects of the both the home and school environments. Her current work examines children’s strategy use and metacognitive awareness as indicators of conceptual understanding of the principles and procedures underlying addition. Kesha’s developing program of research is strongly influenced by the desire to bridge basic cognitive research and applied developmental science with the goal of integrating empirical research into educational policy and practice to enhance children’s academic outcomes.
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Todd Jensen

Ph.D. candidate in Social Work
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduate Mentor: Gary L. Bowen, Ph.D
CCHD Mentor: Melissa A. Lippold, Ph.D

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Todd is a fourth-year doctoral student in the School of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and a Licensed Clinical Social Worker Associate (LCSWA) in the state of North Carolina. His research interests center on the developmental impact of family transitions, relationships, and processes across the life course, as well as the antecedents and correlates that promote individual and family resilience and well-being. As a social work researcher, Todd continually seeks to conduct and apply research in ways that help inform family education programs and intervention strategies, particularly those pertaining to post-divorce and stepfamily life. He is especially mindful of how children experience the transition to stepfamily life, and seeks to unveil factors that optimize children’s health, functioning, and development in these contexts.
In addition to his focus on family transitions and stepfamily life, Todd is currently engaged in projects aimed at helping the Family Advocacy Program of the U.S. Air Force improve and solidify family maltreatment prevention efforts. Todd has also pursued courses in advanced statistical methodology, which facilitate the examination of complex family dynamics and their developmental impact in the context of time and various bio-ecological conditions.
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Drew Rothenberg

Ph.D. candidate in Clinical Psychology
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduate Mentor: Andrea Hussong, Ph.D
CCHD Mentor: Andrea Hussong, Ph.D


Drew is a fifth year graduate student in the clinical psychology program at UNC-CH. His broad research interests include understanding how the family environment informs individual development across the life course and how such environments are transmitted across multiple generations. He is interested in utilizing a developmental psychopathology framework to understand how emotional regulatory mechanisms, parenting behaviors, and environmental contexts confer risk or protection across development. Drew’s current work examines the etiology of deleterious family contexts, including harsh parenting and hostile family environments, and considers how such contexts are passed from one generation to the next. He has also examined how marital conflict affects trajectories of adolescent development and how parent emotion socialization strategies influence child social and emotional development. More broadly, Drew is also interested in the translation and integration of empirical research into prevention and intervention programs. Drew earned his B.A. in Psychology from North Carolina State University, where he was a Park Scholar.
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Jon Schaefer

Ph.D. candidate in Clinical Psychology
Duke University
Graduate Mentor: Terrie Moffitt, Ph.D
CCHD Mentor: Terrie Moffitt, Ph.D

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Jon is a fourth-year doctoral student in the clinical psychology program at Duke University with a keen interest in developmental psychopathology. Broadly, his research interests center on understanding why some individuals develop symptoms of mental disorder following exposure to stressful life events, whereas others do not. To this end, Jon works with population-representative, longitudinal datasets to examine the antecedents of common mental disorders (and the enduring absence of such disorders) that develop across the first half of the life course. He has also examined how individual characteristics like early-life intelligence predict measures of later mental and physical frailty. Moving forward, Jon plans to incorporate dimensional and hierarchical measurements of psychopathology into his research in order to achieve a better understanding of the unique and shared pathways through which individual risk factors and exposures lead to psychiatric symptoms. He hopes that his research will enhance scientific understanding of who is most at risk for psychopathology and how that vulnerability is likely to manifest, as well as inform the development of more effective interventions targeting these high-risk individuals.
As a CCHD predoctoral fellow, Jon hopes to further integrate models from developmental science into his research and to examine how maturational factors (like age) moderate the impact of stressful life events on later mental health. He is also interested in furthering his expertise in the optimal measurement of psychiatric symptoms and exposure to stressful life events in observational studies, as well as his familiarity with the advanced statistical methods needed to test complex patterns of interaction in large, population-representative cohorts across development.
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Rebeccah Sokol

Ph.D. candidate in Health Behavior
University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Graduate Mentor: Edwin B. Fisher, Ph.D
CCHD Mentor: Susan Ennett, Ph.D

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Rebeccah’s research broadly entails understanding the ways in which early life circumstances give rise to health trajectories. Specifically, she is interested in exploring what family context factors moderate the relationship between early disadvantage and subsequent health. She has led several systematic reviews, with topics ranging from describing how the literature defines ‘hardly reached’ populations, to assessing the prospective relationship between parenting style and weight. Rebeccah is also a Teaching Assistant for foundational health behavior courses in the Gillings School of Global Public Health, and a student representative for the Child and Family Health Special Interest Group of the Society of Behavioral Medicine.
Rebeccah’s research, coursework, and extracurricular engagements are influenced by the desire to inform the development of policies and programs that may help more children attain a healthy lifestyle, even after experiencing disadvantage. As a CCHD Pre-Doctoral Fellow, she plans to enhance her understanding of latent growth modeling and related statistical techniques in order to assess whether the family context moderates the relationship between socioeconomic position during adolescence and self-rated health trajectories from adolescence to young adulthood.
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