Sean Brotherson, (Ph.D., Oregon State University)
Professor and Extension Family Science Specialist

Office Phone: 701-231-6143

Core Area: Family Science

Research Interests: Parenting and fatherhood; Healthy marriages; Family stress; Rural families; Grief and bereavement; Family life education; Family policy 

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Areas of Interest and Ongoing Research


James Deal (Ph.D., University of Georgia)

Office Phone: - 701-231-7568 

Core Area: Child Development 

Research Interests: My current research focuses on identity development in emerging adults, particularly in the areas of religion and the transition to college. I am particularly interested in first generation and/or low income students and issues related to financial support.  

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Heather Fuller (Ph.D., University of Michigan)
Associate Professor

Office Phone: 701-231-5621

Core Area: Adult Development and Aging

Research Interests: Social relationships across the lifespan (e.g. intergenerational relationships); Successful aging and health promotion; Aging in rural and cross-cultural contexts; Aging families and caregiving; Survey research and program evaluation. 

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Research Lab: Linked Lives

Joel Hektner, (Ph.D., University of Chicago)
Professor and Head
Office Phone: 701-231-8269

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Core Area: Child, Adolescent Development
Research Interests: Design and effectiveness of programs to prevent adjustment problems and promote well-being in children and adolescents; Peer affiliation patterns and peer influences on children's behaviors; Family and school conditions that facilitate optimal experiences (flow) and optimal development; The Experience Sampling Method
Developmental Science Program

Current Projects
-Statewide Evaluation of 21st Century Community Learning Centers in North Dakota

We are collecting and analyzing data on the quality of these after school programs that serve children from kindergarten to fifth grade. We use the CLASS observation tool to observe staff-child interactions, as well as surveys of parents, teachers, children and community partners.

 -Evaluation of Early Risers Skills for Success
We continue to analyze experimental evidence on the effectiveness of an adaptation of a best practices prevention program (Early Risers) that features a strategic peer affiliation and peer coping skills component designed to reduce aggression, bully problems, and victimization. The NIMH-funded study involved over 200 children from 5 elementary schools. Eleven conference presentations and one journal article have been produced from this project so far.

Melissa Lunsman O'Connor, (Ph.D. University of South Florida)
Assistant Professor

Office: EML Hall 283
Office Phone: 701-231-8688

Core Area: Adult Development and Aging

Research Interest: My research focuses on characterizing changes in cognitive and functional abilities across the adult lifespan, and my ultimate goal is to promote healthy aging.  Specifically, my research interests include: examining age-related differences and changes in cognitive and functional abilities, such as driving, among healthy adults and clinical populations; quantitative methods and psychometrics; interventions for improving cognition, health, and everyday functioning; and attitudes toward dementia.

Current Research: Healthy Aging Lab

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Wen Wang (Ph.D., Michigan State University)
Assistant Professor

Office Phone: 701-231-1875

Core Area: Child Development

Research Interests:  The development of young children’s mastery motivation and persistence; Cultural variances in parenting and early parent-infant communication; Prosocial behaviors and emotions towards racial ingroup and outgroup members.

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