Research Student Affiliates

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Alex Molaver

Ph.D. candidate, HDFS, University of Connecticut, Storrs.

His research focuses on interpersonal rejection and mental health consequences in adulthood, including loneliness, fear of intimacy, and rejection sensitivity.


Yuan Zhang

Ph.D. candidate, HDFS, University of Connecticut, Storrs.

Her research focuses on the parent-child relationship, and on the development of interpersonal relationships and social skills within different cultures. Her research interests include the way in which parent-child relationships influence individuals’ social-skill development, and the way in which the improvement in relationship quality and positive parent-child interaction skills are relevant to individuals’ social well-being. Yuan is also interested in the long-term effects of parent-child relationships on individuals’ lifespan and intimate relationships with significant others when they merge into adulthood.

Laila Almotwaly

Undergraduate Student, Cognitive Science Major, University of Connecticut, Storrs

Laila Almotwaly is an undergraduate student pursuing a Bachelor of Science in Cognitive Science with minors in Neuroscience and Computer Science at the University of Connecticut. She is also an Undergraduate Research Assistant at the Rohner Research Center.

Recent Alumni

sumbleen ali

Dr. Sumbleen Ali

Postdoctoral Associate, Einstein Ageing Study (EAS)

Her research focuses on investigating psychological adjustment and personality as correlates of interpersonal acceptance-rejection. 


Dr. Ryan Allred

Assistant Professor, University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh

Dr. Allred earned his PhD in Communication Sciences, UConn in 2020. His research focuses on communication inhibitors and pro-social emotions as they relate to creating and maintaining relationships. Specifically, he explores the intersection between interpersonal communication and technology by examining the influence of cell phone usage on face-to-face communication (i.e., phubbing). He is interested in understanding how cell phones may inhibit or change communicative processes and in helping individuals navigate the complexities of an ever-expanding digital era. Additionally, he studies the effects of pro-social emotions (e.g., gratitude, empathy, and forgiveness, etc.) in relation to overcoming such inhibitions. His work considers the expressive writing paradigm as a tool for enhancing positive emotion and fostering healthy relationships.;


Dr. Maggie Bennett

Online Instructor, Texas Tech University, Lubbock, Texas

Dr. Bennett graduated from Communication Sciences at UConn in 2019. She has also worked as a visiting Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences, University of the Pacific, Stockton. Maggie’s research focuses on romantic relationships as well as media portrayals and its effects on romantic relationships. Her primary focus is on disclosure and communication in intimate partner settings.

Alex Reid

Dr. Alex Reid

Assistant Professor, Department of Child, Adolescent, and Family Studies, California State University, Bakersfield

Dr. Reid specialized in Parenthood. Alex received his Master’s degree in Experimental Psychology at California State University, Northridge (CSUN) and a PhD in parenting and parenthood from HDFS, UConn in 2018.  His research interests focus on family dynamics and parental behaviors related to mental health outcomes (e.g., depression and self-esteem) in adolescents and emerging adults.;


Dr. Kaitlin Flannery

Assistant Professor, Psychology, State University of New York College, Cortland

Dr. Flannery specialized in Developmental Psychology. She received her Master’s and PhD degree in Psychology from the University of Connecticut, Storrs in 2017. Her research interest focus on friendship dissolution among adolescents, social cognition in peer relationships, and gender development. website


Dr. Selenga Gürmen

Assistant professor of Psychology at the Ozyegin University, Turkey

Dr. Gurmen research in the marriage and family therapy field focuses on issues of co-parenting, divorce, and high-conflict therapy. Currently, she aims to understand extended family relationships after divorce, and extended family’s supportive role on co-parenting among divorced families. In light of the findings from her research, Dr. Gürmen also develops various therapy modalities and parent education programs that target decreased conflict and increased cooperation among high-conflict co-parents. She also conducts research studies that explore the impact of technology, smartphones, and social media on romantic relationships. Additionally, Dr. Gürmen has been engaged in several studies that examine tenets of interpersonal acceptance-rejection theory (IPARTheory) and she is actively involved in translating and adapting IPARTheory measures. ;


Dr. Ppudah Ki

Assistant Professor, Korea National Open University: Jongno-gu, Seoul, South Korea

Dr. Ki research interests are in the study of (1) individual and family risk and resilience, (2) interpersonal acceptance-rejection dynamics, and coping, (3) diversity issues and multicultural counseling, and (4) marriage and family therapy. Dr. Ki graduated from UConn’s MFT program in HDFS. After graduation she completed her Post-Doctoral training at the Yonsei University, Seoul, South Korea