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405-7 Cooper Street
Camden, NJ 08102
(856) 225-6741

Department Chair
Dr. Daniel T. Cook

Director of Graduate Studies
Dr. Sarada Balagopalan

Undergraduate Program Coordinator
Dr. Susan Miller

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Spring 2016 Newsletters

Home » Graduate Program » Graduate Students

Graduate Students

Ryan Bunch

Ryan Bunch’s interests are in music, theater, film, and other media related to childhood and youth. His recent work has engaged with the meanings of narrative, affect, music, animation, nostalgia, and vocal/embodied performance in the representation and participation of young people in musicals and popular culture. His research on stage and screen musicals adapted from The Wizard of Oz appears in the journal Studies in Musical Theatre, and his forthcoming publications include chapters on Disney films, Schoolhouse Rock, NBC’s live musical broadcasts, The Sound of Music, and Sesame Street. Ryan’s work further draws upon his past experiences as a puppeteer, music director, writer, composer, and vocal coach for community and youth theater. With a degree in historical musicology from the University of Maryland, Ryan has taught courses in music at Temple University, the Community College of Philadelphia, and Holy Family University. He currently teaches vocal performance in the Fine Arts Department at Rutgers-Camden.


Clovis Bergère

Clovis Bergère’s research interests are in emergent urban forms, youth cultures and inventive methods for urban research. His work explores the spontaneous uses of urban space and spans across London, UK and Guinea, West Africa.

His interest in youth and urban life and research also draws on his experience working as a local government manager, and community actor, most notably in children’s play and sports development in London.




Julian Burton

Julian is a former teacher who has traveled extensively and worked with children in eight countries since completing his undergraduate studies in teaching and anthropology. During his time abroad he also completed his master’s in educational psychology with a focus on talent development. His research interest include children’s rights, children’s media cultures, children’s participation in the arts, and student-centered educational reform. His dissertation work is a cyberethnographic study of social commentary discourse and political engagement within youth spaces online, particularly those primarily devoted to media fandom.



Patrick Cox

Patrick Cox is Vice-President of H-Net Humanities and Social Sciences Online where he builds and edits open-access digital-first academic publications. He sits on the Editorial Board of the journal Global Studies of Childhood. Patrick is also a Museum Researcher at the Science Museum of Minnesota where he studies the efficacy of using YA literature to engage youth in STEM.

He lives in bucolic Minnesota with his wife, Dr. Vania Brightman Cox, and their two extraordinary children Finn and Leo.

His research interests include children’s literature, informal education, and children’s digital culture within the context of 20th and 21st century American culture. His dissertation is on representations of American childhood in the influential children’s magazine Highlights for Children, especially on the subversiveness and deviance within the mainstream publication’s seemingly normative representation of childhood.More about Patrick’s work can be found at


Vibiana B. Cvetkovic

Vibiana Bowman Cvetkovic is is library faculty at the Rutgers-Camden Paul Robeson Library, Rutgers University.

Her books include The Plagiarism Plague: A Resource Guide and CD-ROM Tutorial for Educators and Librarians (Neal-Schuman, 2004), Scholarly Resources for Children and Childhood Studies: A Research Guide and Annotated Bibliography (Scarecrow Press, 2007), and Teaching Generation M (Neal-Schuman, 2009), and Stop Plagiarism: A Guide to Understanding and Prevention (Neal-Schuman, 2010).  Vibiana’s dissertation research deals with the figure of the host in local children’s television shows.



Dianne Fabii

Dianne Fabii is a nationally certified mental health and career counselor, and licensed professional counselor in New Jersey. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Special Education from LaSalle University, and a Master’s degree in Health Education from St. Joseph’s University. Her broad career includes teaching in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and England; school counseling, career development, and a private therapy practice. Recently relocated to southwest Florida, she now works in student services at Fort Myers Technical College.

Her research interests in Childhood Studies stem from her travel and charitable work in southern India, where she has been involved for many years. In 2007, Dianne established the Rose Foundation for Children to help support childhood health, education and welfare programs for the neediest children in south India. Dianne’s doctoral dissertation is focused upon the transformation of arranged marriage traditions and practices within Indian-American families in the United States.




Katie Fredricks

Katie Fredricks received her BA and MA in Sociology from the University of Wisconsin Milwaukee as well as an interdisciplinary certificate in Childhood and Adolescence Studies. Her master’s thesis was a content analysis comparing racial representations between two television programs popular among pre-school aged audiences.

Her areas of interest include qualitative research methods and the influence of media in the lives of children and adolescents in the United States, specifically television’s role in the development of racial and ethnic identity, children’s understandings about race, and the dissemination of colorblind ideology.


Diana Garcia

Diana Carolina García has a BA in Political Science with a Minor in Political Participation and Communication from the Pontificia Universidad Javeriana – Bogotá, Colombia. She also has a MA in Cognition and Communication from the University of Copenhagen.

She is interested in the different process in which Global South governments are trying to close the social and the technological gap and understanding the purposes of such initiatives. Her interests lie in Digital Communication, Children and Media, Children’s Media Usage and Culture, among other.



Amy Henry

Amy Henry holds a Bachelors of Arts in English from Dartmouth College and a Masters of Education in Human Development and Psychology from Harvard’s Graduate School of Education. She has worked in the applied research and consulting field for almost 15 years and has a passion for helping organizations translate an authentic understanding of youth and parents into ideas that can improve their lives. She has conducted research and consulted for media and non-profit organizations including Nickelodeon, Disney, PBS Kids Sprout, Scholastic, National Geographic Society, The American Museum of Natural History, Boy Scouts of America, Common Sense Media and The Joan Ganz Cooney Center. In this program, Amy intends to study the role of youth in social movements and youth as social activists.


Smruthi Bala Kannan

Smruthi has an integrated MA in English Studies with a minor in Economics from the Indian Institute of Technology Madras’s Department of Humanities and Social Sciences. She is a Young India Fellow 2014. She has worked with schools in South India in different capacities including on monitoring education policy implementation, storytelling, remedial teacher support, and teacher workshops on classroom strategy.

She is interested in observing the experience of being a child in post-colonial situations. Studying language, culture, and ability in these contexts, she is curious about the gap between schools and the communities they serve in terms of their aspirations for the child.



Eva Lupold

Eva Lupold holds her M.A. in Literary and Textual Studies from Bowling Green State University and a B.A. in English Literature from the University of Pittsburgh, with certificates in Children’s Literature and the study of Women, Gender, and Sexuality.

Her research interests include health and disability studies, children’s and young adult literature, Nineteenth-Century or Victorian literature, girlhood and gender studies, life writing, and new media/digital studies. She is interested in the construction of health narratives, particularly the illness narratives of youth or young women, and as a result her work is often interdisciplinary. More about Eva’s work can be found at:


Ellen Malven

Ellen Malven holds a Masters in English from San Diego State University, and a Masters of Fine Arts in Children’s Literature from Hollins University. Before beginning the Childhood Studies program at Rutgers, Ellen spent three years teaching English composition, and several more years working with school-aged children.

Her research interests (thus far) include youth education and socialization, visual-textual dissonance in children’s literature, children’s media, and body image.


Mary Mitsdarffer

Mary Louise Mitsdarffer holds a masters degree in Public Health from the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia and a bachelors in Kinesiology from Temple University. While completing her masters Mitsdarffer began working in Camden, NJ to help increase food access, nutrition education, and youth leadership development through community health initiatives. Mitsdarffer’s past research has largely focused on the built environment and youth interventions, specifically around urban gardening and active transport programs. Her research interests are place-based health disparities and ethnic minority youth, social capital, and active transport and the built environment.



Theresa Murzyn

Theresa Murzyn’s research interests include interpersonal rejection (particularly among peers), self-esteem, personality development, and personality change.  Her dissertation research will explore the effect that past experiences of rejection have on how youth perceive and behave in social situations.

Theresa graduated summa cum laude from Boston University with a BS in film production and pursued graduate work in anthropology at the University of Maryland.  She is a member of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology (SPSP), Association for Research in Personality (ARP), and International Society for Interpersonal Acceptance and Rejection (ISIPAR).


Rosemarie Peña

Rosemarie Peña holds an MA in Childhood Studies and BAs in Psychology and German from Rutgers University-Camden. She is also the founding president of the Black German Heritage and Research Association (BGHRA).

Rosemarie’s research explores the historical and contemporary intersections of international adoption and migration. She is also interested in visual, filmic, and literary portrayals of international adoption.

Rosemarie has delivered keynotes and conference presentations internationally on the postwar adoptions of Afro-German children, and is an active member of a number of academic organizations. Among these are the Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture, and International Association for the Study of German Politics.

Rosemarie is published in Adoption & Culture: The Interdisciplinary Journal of the Alliance for the Study of Adoption and Culture, and most recently, her chapter essay in German translation, in Kinder Der Befreiung: Transatlantische Erfahrungen Und Perspektiven Schwarzer Deutscher Der Nachkriegsgeneration.

Rosemarie Pena - Rutgers Childhood Studies Graduate Student


2015-09-11 13.13.22

Matthew B. Prickett

Matt holds a BA, along with a MA, in English from Longwood University and an MA in Children’s Literature from Hollins University. Since beginning his PhD studies in Childhood Studies at Rutgers-Camden, Matthew B. Prickett has presented his research at several conferences, chaired the Visions and Voices of Childhood Graduate Student Conference, and served on the Article Award Committee of the Children’s Literature Association.  

He has published articles and book chapters on L. M. Montgomery, C. S. Lewis, and Mary Downing Hahn. His research interests include children’s literature, history of childhood and children, and children’s spaces. Matthew’s dissertation focuses on the place of children in two religious groups of the 19th Century, the Oneida Community and the Mormons. 


Ana Puchau de Lecea

Ana Puchau de Lecea holds a BA in Hispanic Philology from the Autonomous University of Madrid, an MA in Teaching Spanish as a Second Language from the University of Barcelona and an MA in Hispanic Studies from Villanova University. She was awarded the Villanova University Graduate Student Summer Research Fellowship in 2014 for her project “From the Girls’ Voice: A New Vision of Contemporary Spain.”

Her professional experience includes teaching Spanish at Villanova University during her time there as an MA student, a Spanish Teaching Assistantship at Oberlin College and an internship at the Linguistics Certification Department at the Instituto Cervantes in Madrid. She has worked and conducted research in the National Library of Spain and the British Library.

Ana volunteers as a tutor for young Spanish heritage speakers in Bryn Mawr and South Philadelphia. Her current research interests include: Literature, Girlhood, Psychology, Creativity, Education and Children’s rights.

Ana PdL - Profile Pic



Lisa Puga

Lisa’s experience as a Teach for America corps member and involvement with various nonprofit groups exposed her to educational inequities that motivated her passion for reform. Lisa’s interests in the fast-growing alternative education movements across the country – particularly democratic schooling, homeschooling, and unschooling – shed insight into various spaces of learning as they intersect with socioeconomic privilege and racial access.

Lisa’s research involves how the spatial processes across both traditional and alternative education settings influence [and become influenced by] youth identities.


Heather Reel

Heather Reel holds a Bachelor’s degree in African American Studies from Wesleyan University, and Master’s degrees in both Developmental Psychology and Human Rights Studies from Columbia University.  Prior to beginning graduate education, she spent several years working in pediatric clinical research at Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center and the Kidney & Urology Foundation of America. 

Her research interests include the sociocultural and historical dimensions of pregnancy, childbirth and maternal practice; cultural histories of child medicine and developmental psychology; childhood disease and health; critical trauma studies; maternal-child separation; and the figure of the Black child in American history.  In the Childhood Studies program, Heather’s central research question focuses on the sociohistorical context in which developmental theories emerge (particularly those related to attachment and trauma) and the role of race and class in the evolution of such theories. She has published articles in the Journal of Feminism & Psychology, and contributed a co-authored chapter to the 2015 publication The Mother Blame Game.



Jane E. Shattuck

Jane E. Shattuck’s writing and research interests include the history of education, the history of religion, children’s literature, and nineteenth-century America. Her dissertation considers the role of the female academy in shaping nineteenth-century New England girlhood. A freelance publishing consultant and award-winning editor, Jane holds a B.S. from the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and an M.A. in Children’s Literature from Simmons College.


Janice Stiglich - Rutgers Childhood Studies Graduate Student

Janice Stiglich

I received my bachelors and masters in anthropology from the University of Central Florida.  There I did my thesis on domestic worker’s lived experiences and will be tweeking my doctorate to include working girl’s rights in Lima, Peru.  I am interested in working children’s rights, as well as ecofeminism, and am particularly interested in the global status of girls.


Sarah Stone

Sarah is from North Carolina where she completed her Bachelor’s degree at UNCW in History. She has her Master’s degree in Childhood Studies focused on Mommyblogs and the way they perform motherhood and present childhood online. Mommyblogs are still a main focus of Sarah’s and she plans to continue that study into her PhD education.


Michelle Lyttle Storrod

Michelle gained a BA in Sociology from the University of Birmingham and a MSc in Children Youth and International Development from Birkbeck University of London. Michelle’s Masters research ‘Digital Artefact V’s Digital Fingerprint: An Ethnography of Gangs Online’ has been used to develop the Metropolitan Polices’ Cyber Policy and also training for Officers on how Young People use Social Media. Michelle has been working with victims and offenders of serious youth violence for the last 12 years. She is the Co-Author of the Growing Against Violence curriculum which is the largest evidenced based violence prevention program in Europe. Michelle has been part of several National research projects and campaigns highlighting experiences of young people who have been victims and/or offenders of Child Sexual Exploitation in the UK. This research led to a change in Policy and training for all professionals working with anyone under the age of 18. Michelle’s research interests are related to peer group offending, gangs, how young people use social media to commit crime and also the normalisation of crime that young people are exposed to online. Michelle is also interested in how children who have experienced trauma and those who commit crimes can be seen within the context of ‘Childhood’.



Deszeree E. Thomas

Deszeree E. Thomas is the Deputy Commissioner for the Division of Community Based Prevention Services of the Philadelphia Department of Human Services. She manages over 225 city-wide programs delivering services in the areas of family community supports, youth development, violence and deliqnuency prevention, truancy, child and family violence, housing support services, educational support services and out-of-school time. With a special interest in gender specific programming, Deszeree is interested in examining ways to mitigate the public health consequences associated with African American girls’ involvement in intimate relationships by exploring how societal representations of femininity, sexuality and love impact their attitudes and behaviors.


Abigail Todhunter-Reid

Abigail merges literature from the fields of education and psychology to explore the ways student motivation can be fostered in the classroom. Her current research longitudinally investigates the impact of in-school arts education on student motivation and academic growth.


Brandi J. Venable

Brandi J. Venable received her MA in Popular Culture from Bowling Green State University in 2011 and her BA in Theatre Arts, Dramatic Writing Option from Boise State University in 2006.

She is interested in the history of childhood, themes of food and consumption in children’s and YA literature and media, eating as performance and ritual, collaborative research across disciplines, and digital humanities projects.


Samantha White
Samantha White received a B.A. in French from Clark Atlanta University and a MEd in Youth Development Leadership from the University of Minnesota. She has worked with youth in a variety of settings, including K-12 schools and non-profits. Samantha also has taught English as a Foreign Language in France and Brazil, as well as interned in Thailand. Her research interests include environmental history, recreation and leisure studies, girlhood studies, critical race theory, and LGBTQ youth identities.


Elizabeth Yang Rutgers Childhood Studies Graduate Student

Elisabeth M. Yang

Elisabeth M. Yang received a B.A. in Medieval and Renaissance Studies from Barnard College, Columbia University, an M.A. in Philosophy of Religion and Ethics from Biola University and an M.A. in History and Philosophy of Science and Medicine from Durham University. She has studied at University College London and Oxford and received her CELTA degree from Cambridge University. Her current research interests concern the history and philosophy of developmental psychology, cognitive and moral development of infants, social epistemology, personhood, history of child medicine, early modern history and philosophy, Jansenism and the works of Michael Polanyi.

She is an avid tea and coffee drinker, enjoys theatre, playing the piano, discovering obscure Baroque composers, and strolling the cobble-stoned streets of Philadelphia.