University of Georgia
December 2014
Focusing on family

The Child Development Lab at McPhaul provides programs on a full-day basis for children ages 8 weeks to 5 years to both UGA and community families.

Focusing on family

One UGA department’s mission is based around family.

The research, teaching and outreach in support of families is a key component of the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, with an entire department—human development and family science—devoted to advancing this mission.

In addition to the College of Family and Consumer Sciences, UGA research on families is also conducted in the School of Social Work, the Owens Institute for Behavioral Health and the Center for Family Research, among others.

The human development and family science department within the College of Family and Consumer Sciences houses faculty whose research focuses on infancy and childhood, family diversity, intimate relationships, parenting, adolescence and adulthood.

“Our department is at the forefront of research used to benefit children and families across the lifespan,” said Emilie Smith, department head and the Janette McGarity Barber Distinguished Professor at UGA. “We offer extraordinary learning experiences that (range from) service-learning opportunities with at-risk youth to applied and research internships with populations ranging from young children to the elderly, and our students and graduates are leaders around the state and country in marriage and family therapy, child life, policy and research.”

Within the department, several labs are devoted to various family structures.

Jay Mancini, former department head and Anne Haltiwanger Distinguished Professor, oversees the family community and resilience lab, established in 2009 with funding from the Department of the Army.

The lab’s first project focused on adolescents in military families and military families themselves.

“A lot of what we do looks at the intersection of how families do in the context of the communities in which they live,” Mancini said. “Our mission is to conduct results-oriented research and evaluations that promote sustained well-being, empowerment and resilience of individuals, families, communities and those who support them.”

Human development and family science department faculty member Denise Lewis’s LIFE lab researches the life course, intergenerational interactions, family networks and human engagement.

Assaf Oshri’s youth development lab focuses on ways that early stress is linked to health risk behaviors in youth, and Ted Futris’s CARE (Couples and Relationship Enrichment) lab focuses on healthy couple relationships across diverse populations.

In addition, professor Chalandra Bryant examines the marital relationships of newlywed African American couples, and professor K.A.S. Wickrama recently received a $2.5 million grant from the National Institutes of Health to study baby boomers’ marital relationships and health during their transition to later adulthood.

The Child Development Lab at the McPhaul Center provides programs on a full-day basis for children ages 8 weeks to 5 years to both UGA and community families. The McPhaul Center seeks to foster research that makes significant contributions to the field of early childhood education and child development.

FACS emeritus faculty member Gene Brody, Distinguished Research Professor, is the founder and director of the UGA Center for Family Research, which is dedicated to gathering high-quality information from rural African-American families in Georgia.

“We are committed to using our research to foster outreach and best practices in Georgia and around the globe,” Smith said. “Our faculty have millions of dollars in funded projects to support families, positive parenting, understand marriage and relationships, fatherhood and approaches to building community capacity.”

For more information on the department of human development and family science, see

- Cal Powell, College of Family and Consumer Sciences