Emily Fritzson, HDFS Graduate Student Spotlight, April 2024

Emily FritzsonEmily Fritzson is an HDFS Ph.D. candidate who will defend her dissertation and graduate in Spring 2024. She earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from Skidmore College in 2017 and worked for two years as a research lab manager at the University of Delaware before entering the HDFS program in 2019.

Her research interests broadly encompass the health and well-being of individuals living with chronic illness, particularly cancer. Since the start of graduate school, Emily has worked on an NIH-funded, longitudinal study of resilience trajectories among over 550 newly diagnosed cancer survivors. Under the mentorship of the project lead and her academic advisor, Dr. Keith Bellizzi, she was fortunate to participate in almost every component of this project from participant recruitment to publication. At UConn, Emily has also worked with Dr. Bellizzi, Dr. Na Zhang, and Dr. Crystal Park on other projects related to the adaptation and well-being of individuals facing health-related adversity. In addition to research, Emily gained valuable teaching experience as a teaching assistant for Close Relationships Across the Lifespan and Infancy Through Adolescence and the instructor-of-record for Adulthood and Aging.

For her dissertation, Emily analyzed data from the 2021 Health Information National Trends Survey (HINTS)—Surveillance, Epidemiology, and End Results Program (SEER) project, referred to as HINTS-SEER. Utilizing sophisticated data analytical methods to account for the survey design of HINTS-SEER, she examined the associations between health care providers’ patient-centered communication and health outcomes (e.g., psychological distress, physical function limitations, and general health) among adults with a history of cancer. She also explored the potentially mediating role of worry about cancer recurrence and moderating roles of pessimism and social isolation among these associations. The results of the study underscore the critical role of addressing cancer-related concerns through patient-centered communication in healthcare delivery, as these efforts can enhance psychosocial well-being and overall health outcomes among survivors of cancer.

Emily recently joined NORC at the University of Chicago as a Research Director II in their Health Sciences Research Department. She is excited to continue conducting high-quality research with a talented team of researchers and sharing findings in digestible and compelling ways at NORC.

In her free time, Emily enjoys visiting coffee shops, long walks with a friend, and working on her latest paint-by-numbers project. In the summer, she especially loves returning to her home state of Maine to spend time by the ocean and lakes with her family.

HDFS major, Paige Bueckers, named Scholar-Athlete of the Year

Paige Bueckers, current HDFS major, was named the 2023-2024 BIG EAST Women’s Basketball Scholar-Athlete of the Year. She is the first Husky to do so since 2011. She also was named BIG EAST Most Outstanding Player of the Tournament for the second time. Congratulations Paige!

Sihui Lyu, HDFS Graduate Student Spotlight, February 2024

Sihui LyuSihui is a first-year PhD student working with Dr. Beth Russell. Originally from China, Sihui obtained her master’s degree in clinical psychology at the Jinan University in Guangzhou, China.  After graduation, she worked as a research assistant at the Department of Psychiatry at First Affiliated Hospital of Jinan University. During this period, she explored the association between emotion, cognitive function, and neurobiology in adolescents with depression, as well as a digital intervention based on brain plasticity in patients with mood and/or cognitive symptoms. Through research and work with clinical populations, she gained experience in structured diagnostic interviews, psychological and cognitive assessments, individual and group cognitive behavior therapy, and non-pharmaceutical intervention. Driven by her concern with the increasing number of adolescents with mood disorders at outpatient clinics, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, she began to focus on adolescent developmental psychopathology. She is quite interested in research on the mental health and well-being of children and their families.

Currently, Sihui is continuing to pursue research in adolescent development, mental health, prevention and early intervention. She hopes that in the future, her research and findings will be applied to benefit individuals, families, communities, and public health practices, thereby helping more people. Personally, mastering work-life balance is also one of her important goals!

Coming to UConn to study was Sihui’s first experience traveling abroad. It was also a brave decision she made to pursue her academic dreams and love. Sihui is very grateful for how fortunate she has been to meet supportive and warm professors and friends here! Out of work, Sihui enjoys watching comedy shows, doing yoga, and chatting with friends and family.

Amanda Sather, HDFS Graduate Student Spotlight, January 2024

Amanda SatherAmanda is currently a first-year PhD student working with Dr. Kari Adamsons. She is originally from Seattle but moved to Phoenix to attend Arizona State University (ASU) for her undergraduate degree. In May 2023 she earned a B.S. in Political Science and Psychology from ASU. During her undergraduate studies, she worked in several child development labs where she became interested in child and adolescent development. In addition, she worked in a lab examining family relationships, leading her to become fascinated by parent-child relationships and their contribution to children’s and adolescents’ developmental outcomes. For her honors thesis, she studied parent-child emotional synchrony and its association with early adolescents’ internalizing and externalizing psychopathology. Through her research labs and her honors thesis, she gained experience and knowledge about research examining parent-child relationships.

At UConn, Amanda has continued to further her understanding of parent-child relationships and child development. Specifically, she wants to conduct research examining the role of parent-child relationships in children’s and adolescents’ mental health and risk taking, with particular interest in substance use and abuse, delinquent behaviors, anxiety, and depression. In addition, she is interested in how parents’ behaviors contribute to these adolescent outcomes. In the future, she plans to continue studying predictors of adolescent substance use and other mental health outcomes. Ultimately, she aims to conduct research that can have real-world implications for families and adolescents.

Outside of school work, Amanda typically spends her time watching sports. She is a huge Seattle sports fan, so she will often spend her free time watching games on TV. In addition, she loves to read books for fun and spend time outdoors.

Waterbury HDFS students organize community outreach project

Laura Donorfio

Students in Laura Donorfio’s HDFS 4007W organized UConn Waterbury’s first “Career Closet” event on November 14th. Over 100 students attended the free event to pick out several articles of professional clothing for future interviews/careers. All clothing was donated by community partners.

Two HDFS alumni were involved and worked closely with the class: Heather Price (2016 graduate), Assistant Director of Academic Affairs at UConn Waterbury and Ali DeGirolamo (2020 graduate), Mayoral Aide for the city of Waterbury.

Tianmei Zhu, HDFS Graduate Student Spotlight, December 2023

Tianmei ZhuTianmei is a first-year PhD student working with Dr. Kari Adamsons. Originally from China, she first became a student in the US as a double major in Economics and Psychology at Smith College. At Smith, she worked with Dr. Marsha Kline Pruett and Dr. Patricia DiBartolo and dived into two research areas: coparenting and perfectionism of women of color in academia. These seemingly distant research areas both spoke to her identity and interests, which proved academic pursuits could be a thrilling rollercoaster. Before entering the world of HDFS field or even deciding to pursue a PhD, Tianmei completed several internships to try to escape from academia by meandering through various industries, from big PR firms to financial security companies, wire and phone corporations, and children’s clinics. Eventually, she gave up and admitted family is a constant theme that intrigues her. Encouraged by her undergrad mentor, she took a leap of faith into this amazing field, and she hasn’t looked back since.

Tianmei’s current research is driven by two core passions. In one role, she is now working on parenthood-related research with Dr. Adamsons and hoping to discover more about how parents perceive, negotiate, and practice their coparenting strategies. In the other role, she is working with Dr. Charles Super on the cross-cultural comparison of parental ethnotheories. She loves both topics and enjoys pushing herself to move forward like a determined snail. The small team and big lab settings bring her equally fantastic research experiences.

When she’s not buried in her class or research work, she likes hanging out with friends, playing video games, and trying out all kinds of recipes with all kinds of music played by her lovely Bose bar. Her favorite games are Zelda BOTW and Phoenix Wright Ace Attorney. She has both a PS5 and a Nintendo Switch stationed at home, most of the time serving as a final save point of her everyday life.

Audrey Boucher, HDFS Undergraduate Spotlight, November 2023

Audrey Boucher- HDFS Undergraduate SPOTLIGHT, Nov 2023Audrey Boucher is a UConn junior majoring in HDFS. She is from Newton, Massachusetts and is very passionate about the UConn HDFS program. Audrey is very driven and motivated about working with others.

Audrey currently serves as the treasurer of the Family Sciences Undergraduate Council and is excited to be a part of a very thoughtful group of students with similar career interests and goals. In Fall 2022, she was a UConn First Year Experience (FYE) Mentor. In this role, she led a weekly class with first year students and provided students with resources. Her goal was to make each student feel welcome and comfortable as a new Husky! Audrey hopes to study abroad in Italy in Spring 2024 as an opportunity to take classes and immerse herself in a new culture. After graduation, Audrey is interested in pursuing a career in marriage and family therapy. She hopes to complete her masters in Social Work at UConn or find a program in the Boston area.

Audrey is really excited to see what the future holds. In her free time, Audrey enjoys spending time with her family and friends, going to Cape Cod to spend countless hours on the beach, and speaking/learning Italian. She is also a huge Boston Bruins fan. You also can always find her with a strong cup of coffee in her hand!