Samantha E. Lawrence

Ph.D., Health, Wellbeing, and Prevention &

Diversity and Culture

Human Development and Family Studies

Entered the Program: 2017

Current program: 

  • Ph.D.
  • Areas of Specialization: Diversity and Culture; Child and Adolescent Development; Health, Wellbeing, and Prevention

Previous Education:

  • M.A., Human Development and Family Sciences, UConn, 2019
  • B.A., Psychological Sciences & Human Development and Family Studies, UConn Honors College, 2017

Research Interests:

  • Experiences, consequences, and prevention of group/identity-based discrimination and victimization (e.g., discrimination and victimization based on ethnicity, race, gender identity, sexual orientation, mental health, body weight)
  • Cultural differences in nature and consequences of family weight stigma

Advising Committee:

Major Advisor: Rebecca Puhl

Associate Advisor: Marlene Schwartz

Associate Advisor: Ryan J. Watson

Assistantship Experience:

  • Fall 2020-Spring 2021: Instructor (Human Development: Infancy through Adolescence)
  • Summer 2020: Instructor (Diversity Issues in HDFS)
  • Fall 2019-Spring 2020: Instructor (Adolescent Development)
  • Spring 2019: Instructor (Research Methods in HDFS)
  • Fall 2017-Spring 2019: Research Assistantship (Developmental Aspects of Sexual Health (DASH) Lab, Advisor: Eva S. Lefkowitz)
  • Fall 2018: Teaching Assistantship (Research Methods in HDFS, Advisor: Keith Bellizzi)
  • Fall 2017-Spring 2018: Teaching Assistantship (Family Interaction Processes, Advisor: Louisa Baker)

Recent awards/scholarships/fellowships:

  • 2020               University Outstanding Instructor Award, UConn Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning
  • 2020               Graduate Student Mentorship Excellence Award, UConn Office of Undergraduate Research
  • 2020               Graduate Student Research Grant, UConn Human Rights Institute
  • 2019               Outstanding Instructor in Human Development and Family Sciences Award
  • 2018, 2019    Provost’s Acknowledgment for Teaching Excellence
  • 2019               Mattoon-Kline Endowed Scholarship Fund
  • 2019               Human Development and Family Sciences Departmental Award
  • 2019               Predoctoral Graduate School Fellowship Award in support of summer research efforts in the doctoral program, UConn Graduate School
  • 2018               Evaluations of school-based rights violations of transgender and gender non-conforming youth: A social ecological perspective, Wood/Raith Living Trust Summer Fellowship, UConn
  • 2018               Summer Fellowship for Advanced Graduate Students in support of summer research efforts, UConn Graduate School
  • 2018               L. Eugene Thomas Human Development and Family Studies Award

Peer-reviewed Publications:

Lessard, L. M., Lawrence, S. E., & Puhl, R. M. (2021). Weight-Based Victimization and School Performance in Adolescence: Can Teachers Help Reduce Academic Risks? School Psychology, 36(1), 69-74.

Brenick, A., Lawrence, S. E., Carvalheiro, D., & Berger, R. (2019). Teaching tolerance or acting tolerant? Evaluating skills- and contact-based prejudice reduction interventions among palestinian-israeli and jewish-israeli youth. Journal of School Psychology.

Berger, R., Brenick, A., Lawrence, S. E., Lila Coco, & Abu-Raiya, H. (2018). The effectiveness and durability of contact- and skills-based approaches to prejudice reduction. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 59, 46-53. doi:10.1016/j.appdev.2018.04.002

Manuscripts Submitted for Review:

Lawrence, S. E., Walters, T. L., Farina, R. E., & Lefkowitz, E. S. (2021). College students’ sexual motives, experiences, and drinking-related protective behavioral strategies. [Manuscript under review].

Lawrence, S. E., Walters, T. L., Clark, A. N., Zhang, Y., Hanna-Walker, V, Farina, R. E., & Lefkowitz, E. S. (2021). LGBTQ+ college students’ social distancing practices during  the COVID-19 pandemic. [Manuscript under review].

Zhang, Y., Farina, R. E., Lawrence, S. E., Walters, T. L., Clark, A. N., Hanna-Walker, V., & Lefkowitz, E. S. (2021). How social support and parent-child relationship quality relate to LGBTQ+ college students’ well-being during COVID-19. [Manuscript under review].

Manuscripts in Preparation

Lawrence, S. E., Puhl, R. M., Schwartz, M., & Watson, R. J. (in preparation). Links between  parents’ beliefs about obesity, weight bias internalization, and weight communication practices with children.

Lawrence, S. E., Puhl, R. M.,& Foster, G. D. (in preparation). A mixed-methods examination of the nature and psychosocial/health consequences of family weight stigma.

Lawrence, S. E., Puhl, R. M., Watson, R. J., Schwartz, M. Lessard, L. M., & Foster, G. D. (in preparation). The psychosocial and health consequences of family weight stigma across six countries.

Lessard, L. M. & Lawrence, S. E. (in preparation). Weight-Based Disparities in Youth Mental Health: Scope, Social Underpinnings, and Implications for Policy.

Lefkowitz, E. S., Waterman, E. A., Lawrence, S. E., Hanna-Walker, V., Walters, T. L., & Farina, R. E. (in preparation). Sex-related alcohol expectancies: Between- and within-person correlates and changes over time.


For more information on Samantha’s research and teaching pedagogy, see her website.