Research & Discover

Lauren Papp

Dr. Lauren Papp, Associate Dean for Research

As the Associate Dean of Research for the School of Human Ecology at UW–Madison, I am pleased to introduce you to our robust research program. SoHE’s dedicated team of experienced research support staff help faculty and their teams identify and win millions of dollars in competitive grants every year from federal, private, university, and community sources investing in the human ecology approach to research and engagement.

Across our various labs and initiatives, and in collaboration with our five Centers of Excellence, SoHE supports researchers across their career stages to execute high-level, high-impact work that improves wellbeing and quality of life for children, families, consumers, and communities. I invite you to learn more in the sections below and to reach out to me with questions or to connect with our research program.


Lauren Papp, PhD
Associate Dean for Research; Vaughan Bascom Professor in Women, Family and Community, Human Development and Family Studies Department

Recent highlights

Thomas on COVID-19 work risk and its effects on Black American fathers

Dr. Alvin Thomas, Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, is coauthor on a new paper in the American Journal of Men’s Health titled “Black American Fathers Employed in Higher-Risk Contexts for Contracting COVID-19: Implications for Individual Wellbeing and Work-Family Spillover.” Surveying over 450 Black American fathers, the study examined how COVID-19 perceived work risk was associated with their individual well-being and its spillover into family contexts. The researchers’ findings suggest that Black fathers working in higher-risk contexts may be at risk for COVID-19 exposure and infection. Further, this study indicates that these effects extend to their own well-being, including mental and sleep health as well as increased family stress.

Poehlmann-Tynan on telemental health for incarcerated people and their families

Dr. Julie Poehlmann-Tynan, the Dorothy A. O’Brien Professor in Human Ecology, is coauthor on a new article in Contemporary Family Therapy showcasing how relational telemental health (TMH) services for incarcerated individuals and their families can increase access to services and improve relational health, as informed in part by changes to therapy delivery practiced during the COVID-19 pandemic

Hartley on dysregulation in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder; Down Syndrome links with Alzheimer’s

Dr. Sigan Hartley, the 100 Women Chair in Human Ecology, Director of SoHE Graduate Studies: Waisman Center Investigator, and Associate Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, is a coauthor on two newly published articles: first, in the Journal of Clinical & Adolescent Psychology, an examination of dysregulation trajectories in children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, including links with parents’ mental health and wellbeing, parent-child relationships, and parent couple relationships; and second, in the Journal of Neurodevelopmental Disorders, a look at the links between Down syndrome and Alzheimer’s disease with regard to the early biomarker of white matter degeneration.

Dodge Francis on COVID-19 stress and coping among American Indian and Alaska Natives

Dr. Carolee Dodge Francis, Ecology of Human Well-Being Professor in Civil Society and Community Studies, is coauthor on a new article, “Stress and Coping among American Indian and Alaska Natives in the Age of COVID-19,” in the latest issue of the American Indian Culture and Research Journal. The issue is the first of two by the journal specifically dedicated to COVID-19 topics. Dr. Dodge Francis’s article is one of several forthcoming from a national research team that has collaborated since last March and also includes Megan Murphy-Belcaster, a medical student with the UW School of Medicine and Public Health, whose 2020 Shapiro summer research fellowship was cancelled due to COVID.

Departments and centers

The School of Human Ecology hosts a broad range of innovative work in research, art and design, and community-based projects across our four departments and five centers. Learn more about the specialties of each via the links below.


Civil Society and Community Studies
Consumer Science
Design Studies
Human Development and Family Studies

Centers of Excellence

Kohl’s Center for Retailing
Center for Child and Family Well-being
Center for Financial Security
Center for Community and Nonprofit Studies (“the CommNS”)
Center for Design and Material Culture

Key SoHE Research Intersections

At SoHE, we find strength in thoughtful cross-unit collaborations. These efforts expand our capacity to seek and obtain funded research support and provide students with high-impact research and learning opportunities. Currently, we are particularly focused on two broad intersectional themes that bridge research, scholarship, teaching, and outreach across multiple SoHE departments:

Ecology of human interdependence with natural environments

Human well-being and the ecology of relationships and contexts that support it are the core of SoHE’s identity. Generally, though, when people hear the term “ecology,” they think only of relationships with the natural world. We know these two ecological frameworks are intimately linked; that is, human thriving and healthy natural environments are interdependent, and there is a pressing need for work at this intersection. SoHE researchers pursue these critical nodes of inquiry, including on topics of environmental hazards and public health, adaptive built environments, sustainable consumption and design, and food security and sovereignty.

Health and well-being across the lifespan

The School of Human Ecology supports its faculty members as they conduct impactful research on growth and development from the prenatal period into older adulthood.  The need to understand individuals, relationships, and families across the lifespan – and in social, community, and financial contexts – is recognized and distinguishes the research and scholarship conducted in the School.  Efforts to characterize at-risk populations, transition periods, and implications for policy and practice are particularly valued.  Our faculty members’ focus on health and well-being is broadly defined and can include measures of biological, physical, emotional, cognitive, environmental, and financial health, among others.  Understanding these relationships and outcomes with respect to diverse populations and in health equity terms is critically needed and appreciated.