Category Archives: Influences

Dr. Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan and Ohio State University

In 2006 I met Dr Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan rather fortuitously. I was primed to attend Ohio State University (OSU) to work with a professor studying cohabitation policy.

Screen Shot 2013-02-16 at 9.57.17 AMHowever, the summer before I was going to start my master’s program in Human Development and Family Science, that professor made the choice to leave OSU, and so I had to find a new advisor.

And it couldn’t have turned out better!

Dr Sarah Schoppe-Sullivan is a Developmental Psychologist (earning her PhD from the University of Illinois Champaign-Urbana) who is an Associate Professor in Human Development and Family Science within the College of Education and Human Ecology (read a short biography here).

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She is primarily interested in the transition to parenthood, focusing on social-emotional issues and co-parenting. However, she also researchers attachment theory, fathers,preschoolers, and cohabiting relationships. To read more about her current research projects click here and to see her CV click sschoppe-sullivan.

In 2012 she received the highest honor a teacher can receive at OSU: The Alumni Award for Distinguished Teaching.

Her main project is called the New Parents Project and her work is highlighted in newspapers articles and through the NSF Science Now (half-way through the video clip), where she finds that while both mothers and fathers are highly involved in their young children’s lives, mothers still do way more child care tasks while fathers typically involve themselves in play and academic pursuits.

To see the list of her on-going projects click here.

Dr. Disa Bergnehr: An Influence on My Swedish Family Policy Research

While working for Dr Anna Sarkadi, my PhD supervisor at Uppsala University, I was introduced to Dr Disa Bergnehr because Anna thought that she could add some real insight into a book chapter that I was starting to write on Family Policies in Sweden, to be published in the Handbook of Family Policies Around the Globe.

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I started emailing Disa, and we hit it off right away. She was very enthusiastic about publishing, especially on a topic related to her field–Swedish family policy.

Disa works three hours south of Uppsala University at Linköping University, which is also where she earned her PhD in 2008 in the Department of Child Studies (called in Swedish Tema Barn) (see Disa’s LinkedIn page for more information). Therefore our relationship was primarily based through email, while some Skype. This isn’t the easiest feat, especially for two researchers, which two thoughts on how a book chapter should be written, who never met each other.

Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 10.56.29 PMBut the book chapter flowed seamlessly  And during the summer of 2012, the book chapter was written and accepted by the editor, Dr Mihaela Robila to be published by Springer in mid-June 2013; encompassing 500 pages of family policy from dozens of countries all over the world! We were now part of what will become the quintessential book for scholars, researchers, and graduate students wanting to know more about family policy issues from a world perspective!

Our relationship flourished and right before the final draft, I was able to make a trip down to Linköping to meet Disa and go over the last revisions to the chapter; and of course a celebratory dinner for a job well done!

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Disa mainly studies the transition to parenthood: that tumultuous time when couples go from the care-free life, disposable income, and mainly work-responsibilities to being parents! And all of the stresses, burdens, and barriers that can greatly affect relationships. Besides the various academic publications on this (and other) topic(s), she also published a book entitled Timing Parenthood: Independence, Family, and Ideals of Life and has a book chapter in The Social Meaning of Children and Fertility Change in Europe.

Developing our working relationship further, Disa and I will continue researching and writing together. Our next project: Head Start preschool teachers: What motivates them to stay or leave working for a preschool organization?

Dr. Mihaela Robila: An Influence on My Swedish Family Policy Research

Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 11.03.57 PMI met Dr Mihaela Robila at the 39th Annual Society for Cross-Cultural Research Conference (2010) in Albuquerque, NM where I presented a discussion called Swedish Child Health Centers and its Influence with Parental Leave, while Dr Robila’s talk was entitled Family Policy in International Perspectives.

It was during this initial meeting by chance (or perhaps because those running the conference realized we had similar topics), that I was introduced to Mihaela. She was not only presenting, but also was the coordinator running the presentations for this particular session on family policy.

After the presentations she suggested that we expand our presentations and turn them into comprehensive book chapters about family policies in our respective country (i.e. Sweden for me). This idea was not only enthusiastically picked up by us presenters (and later, other researchers from all over the world), but also by a publishing company, Springer. Now, due in mid-June of 2013, a 500 page book intended for scholars, researchers, and graduate students interested in family policies from all over the world can read the book entitled Handbook of Family Policies Around the Globe.

A simple 15 minute conference talk has led to years of communicating, relationship building, and now a book (a thick book!). Networking can be as easy as asking a question: would you like to publish? And what researcher wouldn’t love to jump on that opportunity? And as such, Mihaela has encouraged and helped develop my research by forcing me to dig deeper into Swedish family policy, allowing me to learn a lot more about the country I now live in.

Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 11.07.43 PMDr Mihaela Robila is a professor in Family Science at the City University of New York – Queens College · Department of Family, Nutrition, and Exercise Sciences (see her short biography on LinkedIn here). Her publications can be found on her Research Gate site located here. She is highly involved with the American Psychology Association and was deemed a fellow by them for her expertise in immigrant families, and wrote a book entitled Eastern European Immigrant Families (which has received some nice ratings). She is also an expert on family policy in Eastern Europe. Feel free to read more about her biography on her university webpage.

Dr A. James Fuller: Graduating from Undergrad

I attended the University of Indianapolis (U of I) for my undergraduate degree where I earned a B.A. in HistoryScreen Shot 2013-02-25 at 11.12.35 PM. I went to U of I because they had the ‘badge and bachelor’s’ program where you earn your police badge at the police academy, while earning your degree. However, after my first year, I fell in love with History, because of Dr A. James Fuller who is absolutely the best story teller I have ever listened to (and apparently is well liked according So, I decided I would double major in History and Criminal Justice. I took extra courses during the summer at Florida Atlantic University to help me stay on task with graduating in four years. I flew to England to study history at the University of Hull, which in the early 2000s was a high ranking school for history. However, while there I fell in love with psychology.

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After coming back from England with my new found love, I dropped Criminal Justice, since I realized that I was way too passive to be a US police officer, picked up as many courses in psychology and sociology as I could, and finished with a degree in History.

Dr Fuller specializes in Early American History and the Civil War. He has authored Chaplain to the Confederacy: Basil Manly and Baptist Life in the Old South.

Dr. Anna Sarkadi: My Primary PhD Supervisor

Screen Shot 2013-02-25 at 11.21.51 PMDr Anna Sarkadi is my PhD advisor (while having another 8 PhD students–making for a great research collaboration team!). She works for Uppsala University in the Department of Women’s and Children’s Health in Social Pediatrics/Parenting Support, which is part of the Faculty of Medicine (her contact information is located here). She also has a blog (about her sabbatical time in Australia) that’s found here.

She was born and raised in Budapest, Hungary, and immigrated to Sweden in adulthood. She’s both a pediatrician and a researcher, focusing on parents and young children, namely around mental health issues (but certainly has focused on other aspects of parenting and other health issues as well). For a list of her publications, click here to be taken to ResearchGate: a website researchers use to show their publications.

Dr Anna Sarkadi and colleagues wrote a systematic review article on the longitudinal effects of father involvement and children’s developmental outcomes in 2008 (see a review of that article by the Father Involvement Research Alliance here [and there are loads of other articles written about Anna’s work with father involvement]). Although the aforementioned systematic literature review does not pertain to Sweden specifically, it was written by researchers residing in Sweden. And while I wrote my master’s thesis on father involvement issues, I came across this article.

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After reading it, I was so enamored with the structure of the paper, as well as the content, that I had to read what other articles Sarkadi had published on father involvement. Sadly, I found nothing, except for some articles on diabetes. I emailed her to see if I was missing something in my searches. She informed me that this was her first article on father involvement, but that she had just received a large grant that focused on parenting from infants through adolescents, and that I should fly over to Sweden as a fathering expert and help them run some research studies.

And then my life changed forever.