Human Development and Family Studies

School of Health and Human Sciences

Dr. Esther Leerkes: My graduate students and I are interested in: 1) how childhood experiences with ones own parents influence marital adaptation during the transition to parenthood and 2) understanding how the marital and coparenting systems are related and whether they have unique versus overlapping effects on child outcomes.

Dr. Heather Helms: Broadly conceived, the substantive focus of my research is the study of marital relationships in context. Conceptually grounded in ecological, developmental, and feminist frameworks, my training and specific research interests emphasize between and within-family variability in the experiences, perceptions, contexts and personal qualities of spouses, as well as their implications for individual, marital, and family well-being. My graduate work focused primarily on the intersection of work and family as it relates to parenting and work concerns of dual-earner couples and the gender-role socialization of their pre-adolescent and adolescent children. Over time my research interests became more closely focused on marital relationships with specific attention given to the social context of marriage and marital quality. Three themes characterize the body of my research to date: marital and family process, work and family relationships, and the social context of marriage.