Behavioral Sciences Building

Human Development and Family Studies Newsletter | Spring 2021

The Human Development and Family Studies newsletter publishes twice per year, in January and June.

From the Department Head

From Department Head Julie Braungart-Rieker

Greetings from sunny Fort Collins and Colorado State University’s beautiful campus – I hope this newsletter finds you well!

This spring has offered us even more hope as we slowly start re-emerging from the pandemic. Vaccinations are more widely available and show promising effects in combating the spread of COVID-19. We have also been informed that our Fall 2021 courses will almost all return to a face-to-face, in-person format, which students, parents, and faculty are welcoming with open arms!

Looking forward to the rest of the year is important, and so is looking back. I have come to appreciate the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and CSU even more than when I first started here last July.

We have accomplished so many great things this year, with the spirit of supporting each other and our students. We welcomed a new communications coordinator, Lauren Brigandi, who has jumped right in with great ideas for sharing our impressive work with others. We started a Grants Incubation Support Team in which faculty who are experienced in obtaining grants help those who are newer to the process of planning large projects and writing competitive grant applications to help fund their research. We also started a Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Action Team, which includes faculty, staff, graduate students, and an undergraduate student. They worked hard this year, reviewing current practices and materials and offered excellent suggestions for providing an open, welcoming, and inclusive environment for everyone in our department.

This year, our students and faculty won prestigious awards; research continued to flourish; our clinics found success in offering their services through telehealth, which can now be an option for families moving forward; and the Early Childhood Center stayed a step ahead of global issues, including the pandemic and how best to talk to children about racism and violence. I am proud of our department’s many accomplishments and commitment to doing great work.

I look forward to the upcoming year and, to someday soon, seeing many of you in person again.

Department Highlights

Lauren Shomaker headshot

Professor Lauren Shomaker receives top honor at Celebrate! Colorado State awards

Lauren Shomaker, associate professor in HDFS, receives recognition as a Monfort Professor. Monfort Professorship is among CSU’s highest honors and is awarded to faculty who are considered to be rising stars in their fields.

CTRAC Virtual Meeting

CSU therapy center sees long-lasting benefits of moving to telehealth during pandemic

While COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on many sectors of society, the leaders of a therapy center at Colorado State University say the move to serving clients remotely last year has had some benefits that will be long-lasting.

Hannah Saunders Wurster headshot

Alumna creates network of private practitioners who support maternal, infant, and early childhood mental health services

Hannah Saunders Wurster (M.S., ’16; Ph.D. ’18) co-founded The Willow Collective, a network of private practitioners who support maternal, infant, and early childhood mental health services in Northern Colorado.

Student Success

R'ron Fisher Graduation Photo

Outstanding grad overcomes hardships and looks toward a brighter future in education

R’ron Fisher graduates with a pre-health professions concentration and plans to become a public health educator or a teacher.

Leah Young headshot

Outstanding grad makes strides for diversity, equity, and inclusion in the Fort Collins community

Leah Young finds success throughout her undergraduate experience from a desire and passion to support others.

Karen Sandoval headshot

Outstanding grad gives back through mentorship and work with Latinx organizations

Giving her time and talents, Karen Sandoval finds passion in helping others.

Reagan Miller Headshot

Reagan Miller receives the Outstanding Graduate Student award

HDFS graduate student named a College of Health and Human Sciences’ 2021 All-College Award recipient.

Melanie Adams headshot

Melanie Adams receives Distinction in Graduate Research award

HDFS graduate student receives recognition during the second annual Research Day, which took place virtually to celebrate the outstanding research and creative scholarship in the College.


Allison Bielak headshot

CSU researcher explores a novel way to accurately measure changes in cognition within aging populations

Many studies have been done on how to improve or maintain cognitive ability in aging adults, and now a Colorado State University researcher is exploring a novel way to accurately measure changes in cognition within that population.

Hands piling in middle

CSU researchers develop tool to measure community capacity for resilience and successful disaster response

Why do some communities have better outcomes for citizens when faced with disasters and challenges such as the COVID-19 pandemic? CSU researchers have developed a way to measure and quantify a community’s democratic resources to respond called the Civic Capacity Index.

Middle aged woman exercising and bein monitored by man

Clinical trial finds momentum despite delay and needed adjustments due to the pandemic

Last March, a campus normally humming with students shoulder-to-shoulder in labs, studios, classrooms and dining halls, went into sleep mode when nearly all campus operations moved to virtual settings where possible.

Connecting With the Community

Prevention Extension Cast overlay with image of older hands holding

Prevention Extension Cast

Watch the latest installment of the Prevention Research Center’s series of interviews with nationally recognized experts: Aging and Engaging in the Time of COVID-19: The importance of engaging older adults during the pandemic.

Low-cost therapy in uncertain times

As we are all impacted by the outbreak of COVID-19, the Center for Family and Couple Therapy wants to remind you that we are providing low-cost individual, couple, and family online video therapy sessions during daytime and evening hours to fit your schedule.

Woman on phone
Early Childhood Center playing in snow

View the Early Childhood Center annual reports, a snapshot of how we are weathering the pandemic

In 2020, everything from work, to school, to important life events was disrupted by COVID-19, and the ECC was no exception. See how the ECC weathered the shutdown and continues to respond to the pandemic.

Group of older individuals

Study seeks research participants interested in becoming more physically active as they age

Enrollment is now open for participants interested in becoming more physically active as they age.

Hands grouped together holding marijuana

Text-based counseling study for young adults with marijuana use issues seeks participants

Colorado State University researchers are recruiting additional participants for a study on text-based counseling for young adults with marijuana use problems.


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