HDFS Welcomes Our New Faculty


Marketa Burnett, Ph.D.

Marketa Burnett joins the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences and the Africana Studies Institute as an assistant professor. She received her doctoral degree in developmental psychology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prior to joining UConn, she was a postdoctoral research fellow in the Department of Psychology at the University of South Carolina. Her research explores the existing familial supports that shape Black girls’ identity development, well-being and academic persistence. With a focus on cultural assets and strategies, she strives to disrupt deficit-based narratives of Black girls and Black families in her work.

photo of Marketa Burnett, Ph.D.

Kevin Ferreira van Leer, Ph.D.

Kevin Ferreira van Leer joins the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences as an assistant professor. He examines the educational and cultural contexts that promote positive development and liberation for Latine immigrant families. His current research includes examining the culturally bound decision-making process of choosing early childhood education settings for Latine migrant families as well as investigating how structural factors, such as state variation in social policy exclusions, and community assets are associated with immigrant family wellbeing. An action researcher, he has been sought out to support educational institutions in addressing the ways that policy and practice create and perpetuate inequity for people of color.

Kevin Ferriera Van Leer

Malina Her, Ph.D.

Malina Her joins the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences as a Teaching and Research Scholar.

Malina Her

Hilal Kuscul, Ph.D.

Hilal Kuscul joins the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences as a Visiting Assistant Professor teaching on the Waterbury campus. She earned her doctorate in Human Development and Family Sciences from the University of Connecticut and a master’s degree from Bogazici University in Istanbul, Turkey. With a focus on under-resourced families, she has conducted extensive research and collaborated with non-profit organizations in Turkey. She worked as a Visiting Assistant Professor at the State University of New York at Oswego. Dr. Kuscul taught courses such as Child Development, Family Interactions, Introduction to Gerontology, Family Policies, Men and Masculinities. Dr. Kuscul’s research primarily revolves around parenting, specifically fathering in the context of poverty and gender ideology. She strongly advocates for evidence-based interventions that promote resilience and well-being in parents and children.

Hilal Kuscul

Raymond Moody, Ph.D.

Raymond L. Moody joins the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences as an assistant professor. His research examines the impact of social and psychological stress on substance use and sexual behavior among sexual and gender minorities. His current projects examine the impacts of substance use on sexual behavior and adherence to HIV prevention strategies in the context of intersecting stressors. He earned his doctoral degree in clinical psychology from The Graduate Center of the City University of New York. His dissertation was funded by an R36 grant from the National Institute on Drug Abuse and focused on executive attention and emotion regulation as mediating mechanisms linking syndemic conditions and HIV transmission risk behavior among sexual minority men. He completed his postdoctoral fellowship at Columbia University.

photo of Raymond Moody, Ph.D.

Candi Nwakasi, Ph.D., MSPH

Candi Nwakasi joins the Department of Human Development and Family Sciences as an assistant professor. His background includes undergraduate training in biochemistry and graduate training in public health and social gerontology. His previous work experience before joining academia spanned medical, pharmaceutical, and non-profit sectors. He is a co-founder of Black in Gerontology and Geriatrics (BIGG), an organization that works to amplify the voices and efforts of Black people in the field of aging. He serves on the board of PACE-RI, and the editorial board of Journal of Aging Studies. With a focus on aging disadvantaged populations, Nwakasi’s research includes cancer survivorship, cognitive decline and caregiving, and sociocultural factors influencing health care access.

Candi Nwakasi