Director of the Family Involvement Laboratory

Natasha Cabrera
Dr. Natasha Cabrera is a professor in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology, University of Maryland, College of Education.  Previously, Dr. Cabrera held an expert appointment in the Demographic and Behavioral Sciences Branch of the National Institute of Child Development (NICHD). At NICHD, she was also an Executive Branch Fellow sponsored by the Society for Research in Child Development. Dr. Cabrera was intimately involved in the planning and implementation of several projects including the Science and Ecology of Early Development (SEED), the Early Head Start Research and Evaluation Project's father study, and the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study-Birth Cohort. Dr. Cabrera currently teaches graduate and undergraduate courses on social development, parenting, and child development and poverty.  Her research interests include parent-child relationships, children's social and emotional development in different types of families and cultural/ethnic groups, school readiness, fatherhood, predictors of adaptive and maladaptive parenting, and translation of research into practice and policy.
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Graduate Students

Kelsey Garcia

Kelsey McKee is a fourth-year doctoral student in Human Development. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology from Arizona State University. Her past experience includes conducting in-home intervention programs with the Arizona child welfare system. Her interests lie in how parenting interventions can promote positive parent-child relationships and help parents to support children’s  early social and emotional development, particularly low-income communities.

Avery Hennigar

Avery Hennigar is a fourth-year doctoral student in Human Development. She received her Bachelor of Science in Public Health, Bachelor of Arts in Psychology, and Master of Public Health from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Avery's research interests focus on how structural and social factors influence parent-child relationships and how interventions can be most effective for low income families. Specifically, she is interested in examining the challenges related to juggling low wage work and family life and the impact of parents' mental health on child outcomes.

Tina Chen

Yu (Tina) Chen is a second-year doctoral student in Human Development. She received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology and Economics from Grinnell College. Before coming to UMD, Tina worked as a lab manager with Dr. Kathy Hirsh-Pasek at Temple University. Her research focuses on how parent-child interactions and home environment shape child outcomes. She is particularly interested in mothers and fathers from at-risk families and their input to and ways of interacting with their children.

Rachel Ghosh

Rachel Ghosh is a first-year doctoral student in the HDQM program. She received a B.A. in Psychology from the University of Michigan, with a minor in Community Action and Social Change. Her research interests include father-daughter relationships, father absence, and the impacts of father involvement on females’ emotional, intellectual, and social development throughout the lifespan. She is also interested in interventions to promote healthy development and resilience among fatherless females, and Public Policy work pertaining to the improved support of low-income, single-mother families.

Angelica Alonso
Angelica Alonso is a first-year doctoral student in the Human Development program at the University of Maryland. She received her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from New York University and her Master of Arts in Human Development from Teachers College, Columbia University. Through her previous work as a research assistant at NYU's Center for Research on Culture, Development, and Education and as a research coordinator at NYU Langone Health, she became interested in the role that culture plays in shaping children’s early experiences. Her research interests include how Latino immigrant parents promote their young children’s development through everyday activities, as well as how parents’ documentation status affects parent-child interactions.


Jerry West

Dr. Jerry West is an affiliate at the University of Maryland, College of Education. His research interests include school readiness, child care and early education, mothers’ and fathers’ involvement in their children’s education, and kindergarten in the U.S. He received a Ph.D. in sociology from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill in 1979 with a concentration in social psychology. Over his 30+ year career, he has designed and directed national cross-sectional studies of preschool, school-age children, and adults, and national longitudinal surveys of children’s development and learning from birth through middle childhood. He has trained hundreds of graduate students, junior and senior faculty from different disciplines on how to accurately use data from the national child development, early childhood and elementary school studies to answer key questions in child development and education. As a Senior Fellow at Mathematica Policy Research for more than 10 years, Dr. West directed the Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (FACES) and other large-scale studies. Prior to joining Mathematica, he was the Director of the Early Childhood and Household Studies Program at the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES).

Duncan Fisher

Duncan Fisher is an affiliate at the University of Maryland, College of Education. He has spent the last 23 years promoting change in policy, practice and culture to be more supportive of fatherhood. Throughout this time, evidence from research has been his key tool. In 2014 he set up the Child & Family Blog with Michael Lamb to report on family and child development research. Fatherhood is a strong theme on the Blog. He also reports on research on fathers and maternal & newborn health: 300 research reports on since 2015. In UK he co-founded the Fatherhood Institute and helped lead the fatherhood debate in UK. He received an OBE from the Queen in 2008 “for services to children”. Now he is working internationally to challenge the lack of attention to fatherhood in health, child, gender and economic programmes.

Postdoctoral Fellows

Minxuan He

Dr. Minxuan He is a President’s Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology at the University of Maryland. She received her Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of California, Berkeley with a speciality in infant development. Broadly, her research investigates the role of motor activity in psychological processes including a broad range of psychological development from perception to attention, from cognition/speech to socioemotional changes in diverse populations and cultural settings. A main objective of her research, in collaboration with Dr. Natasha Cabrera and the lab, is to understand how experiential factors, such as adverse family and socioeconomic situations, ethnic minorities, would mediate children's developmental outcomes. She hopes to contribute to knowledge for possible translation of these findings to improve the well-being of young children and families.

Project Managers

Marina Kerlow Headshot

Marina Kerlow earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from the University of Maryland, College Park. Marina is interested in how father involvement can help with children’s cognitive, social and emotional development particularly in Latino communities. Broadly, her research interests include investigating risk and resilience among ethnic minorities, barriers to mental health care utilization in Latino populations, and eliminating mental health care inequalities by improving accessibility and integrating cultural values into treatment. Specifically, she is interested in developing culturally sensitive treatments for Latino teens and children who are struggling with eating disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder. She plans to pursue a master’s degree to become a licensed mental health counselor to provide bilingual family therapy to help Latino infants, children and adolescents struggling with anxiety, depression, developmental delays, family conflict and trauma. 

Valerie Mejia

Valerie Mejia earned her Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Religious Studies from Colby College. During her time at Colby, Valerie had the opportunity to lead research initiatives focused on lifespan development in Latin American communities. She was particularly interested in studying the benefits of religious accompaniment in end-of-life care in Manizales, Colombia, as well as the role of positive mother-child interactions on infant development in Lima, Peru. Through these experiences, she realized that her true passion is working with children and families. 

Research Assistants

Bio Headshot of Martha

Martha Yumiseva-Lackenbacher is originally from Quito (Ecuador). She is currently a PhD student in Family Science at the University of Maryland’s School of Public Health. She earned her M.S.Ed. in Human Development at the University of Pennsylvania. She is a passionate researcher, investigating families and parenting practices in the context of health as the baseline of children’s optimal cognitive, social and emotional development among immigrant Latinx populations in the US. 

Bio Headshot of Jone

Jone Renteria is a part-time research assistant for the Baby Books 2 project. She received her Bachelor degree of Biomedical Engineering in the University of Mondragon, in Spain. Despite her biomedical background, her major duties in the lab include data collection from home visits and data manipulation. Currently, Jone is in the process of finishing her Master studies in Biostatistics and Bioinformatics.

Heidi Fuentes

Heidi Fuentes is a full-time research assistant for the Everyday Learning Project. She received a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a minor in Education from Trinity Washington University.  Her interest in educational research started after writing multiple research papers in undergrad focusing on Bilingual Education and Language Production.  Heidi is in the process of applying for graduate school to pursue a Master's in School Psychology.  She hopes to work with students from various backgrounds and, particularly, with students who have learning differences.


Daniela Aldoney

Daniela Aldoney is an alumnus of the Family Involvement Lab. She earned her undergraduate degree in psychology from the Universidad de Chile and received her Master of Arts degree and PhD in Human Development from the University of Maryland. Currently, she is a research faculty at the Centro de Apego y Regulación Emocional (CARE) at the Universidad del Desarrollo in Santiago, Chile. Her research interests include the study of parent-child relationships in disadvantaged populations during the preschool years. She has focused in understanding the development of emotional competences, executive functions, and language in children at risk and how mothers and father can promote an optimal development in their children. She teaches courses for psychlogy undergraduate and doctoral students and directs the Familia, Adolescencia e Infancia lab.

Liz Karberg

Liz Karberg is an alumnus of the Family Involvement Lab. She received her Bachelor of Science in Psychology from The College of William and Mary, her Master of Arts in Comparitive Human Development from the University of Chicago, and her PhD in Human Development from the University of Maryland. Dr. Karberg is a Research Scientist at Child Trends. She studies parent-child relationships in fragile families (families in which the parents are not married), and how parent involvement affects early development in these families.

Catherine Kuhns
Catherine Kuhns is an alumnus of the Department of Human Development and Quantitative Methodology at the University of Maryland, where she also completed a Certificate in Population Studies from the Maryland Population Research Center. She received her Bachelor of Science degree in Human Development and Family Studies from Pennsylvania State University and her Masters of Science in Teaching English to Speakers of Other Languages from Fordham University. Dr. Kuhns is a research associate in the Center on Labor, Human Services, and Population at the Urban Institute. Her research focuses on child welfare and public programs that support the well-being of low-income children and families. She is also interested in using research to inform policy at the local, state, and federal level to enhance child well-being. Catherine is currently a Doris Duke Fellow.
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Jenessa Malin is an alumnus of the Family Involvement Lab. She is a Social Science Research Analyst in the Administration for Children and Families’ Office of Planning, Research, and Evaluation (OPRE). Her portfolio includes research and evaluation projects related to child welfare and early care and education programs (Head Start and CCDF). Dr. Malin began her work at OPRE as a Society for Research in Child Development Executive Branch Policy Fellow. She holds a B.A. in Psychology from Duke University. She also holds an M.A. in Measurement, Statistics, and Evaluation and a Ph.D. in Human Development, both from the University of Maryland, College Park.