Research and Grants

Research is a very important part of my career. I enjoy all aspects of research, from dreaming up the idea, determining what questions to ask, selecting the best method to find the answers, and disseminating the information.

Research Awards

Greenspun College of Urban Affairs Outstanding Research Award (2010)

This award is given to the top producer of research within the college, among 7 departments.

Greenspun College of Urban Affairs Outstanding Teaching Award (2008)

This award is given to the top teacher (as evidenced by classroom observation by a committee, teaching philosophy, established learning outcomes, rigor of assignments, syllabi review, and evaluations) within the college, among 7 departments.


The AAMFT Graduate Student Research Award (2002) is certainly the biggest highlight of my career. This award is important because of the national recognition and prestige associated with the award. In this award, both the topic area and the potential of a research career are highlighted. This award also gave me more encouragement in regard to my proposal writing and dissertation style and gave me renewed confidence that I might have the skills needed for the research career.

Purdue Calumet Research Award

Another related career highlight is the Purdue Calumet Graduate Student Research Award (2000). Since my research project at that time was examining differentiation in couples in regard to infidelity, the recognition I received from the Graduate School at Purdue Calumet that MFT concepts such as differentiation were important topics for investigation. This award led to one article in press and one manuscript in the works, both exploring how a transgenerational concept does or does not manifest in infidelity.

James D. Moran Dissertation Award

The James D. Moran Memorial Thesis/Dissertation Award is for graduate students whose thesis or dissertation research addresses issues faced by individuals and families within various environments throughout the life span. This includes such areas as family systems, human development, nutrition, work/family relationships, health and well-being, and family/consumer resource management. The Award was announced at the College of Human Sciences and Education Award Banquet on April 10, 2003.

Research Agenda

There are several lines of research which I am currently developing.

High Risk Sexual Behavior

One line of research that I am currently pursuing, along with Dr. Adrian Blow from Michigan State University, is examining the decision making-process for people around engaging in high-risk sexual behavior. In this study, we are proposing to conduct phone interviews with individuals who choose to


Another major research area of mine is that of infidelity. I have done a great deal of reading, writing, and research in this area. I first began this work in my master's program, and have been continuing this line since that time.

Study 1: To understand the relationship between differentiation and infidelity, I surveyed people who were in a couple relationship and gave them a differentiation scale, a fusion scale, and an infidelity scale.

Study 2: Taking this same sample set, we ran a structural equation model to determine the relationship of differentiation on infidelity.

Study 3: This study is my dissertation. Interested in the phenomenon of Internet infidelity, I am currently exploring how therapists make treatment decisions in cases of Internet infidelity. This is the project that won the 2002 AAMFT Graduate Student Research Award. Results indicated that therapists' treatment decisions in cases of Internet infidelity were, to some degree, determined by social background characteristics of the therapist and the client.

Study 4: This study is in collaboration with Dr. Adrian Blow, Dr. Alexis Kennedy, and Dr. Tara Emmers-Sommers. We are interested in investigatind decision-making processes in high-risk sexual behavior. We are in the process of securing final IRB approval to our modifications and will be beginning data collection in the coming weeks.

Other projects

I am also working on several other projects. One specific project is exploring clinician's journal reading behavior. This project will hopefully develop into a line of research exploring the clinician-researcher gap. Another project I am working on with Steve Fife, Ph.D., and Colleen Peterson, Ph.D., involves exploring the impact of providing the therapist client feedback on the outcome of therapy. Please see my vita for a complete list or research in which I have been involved.

Funded Grants

I have been very lucky to have several grants awarded over my research career. Dr. Stephen Fife and Dr. Colleen Peterson and I were awarded the Planning Initiative Award here at UNLV for our proposal to measure change in couples therapy, and relate that to outcome. The grant was funded for approximately $29,000.

In 2007, I won a New Investigator Award at UNLV, funded for about $15,000. In this study, I will be interviewing people about the decision-making processes related to high-risk sexual behavior.