Human Development and Learning Faculty

Aerika Brittian Loyd, PhD

Brittain Loyd Headshot

Aerika Brittian Loyd, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. She is an affiliate of Community Health Sciences in the School of Public Health and the Center for Dissemination and Implementation in the Department of Medicine. As a developmental scientist, she investigates how social stressors and protective factors affect mental health and development in Black and Latinx youth, and she provides recommendations for culturally responsive youth practice, prevention, and policy.


BA (Psychology): California State University, Fullerton
MA (Psychology): California State University, Fullerton
PhD (Child Study and Human Development): Tufts University

Sarai Coba-Rodriguez, PhD, CFLE

Coba-Rodriguez Headshot

Sarai Coba-Rodriguez, PhD, CFLE, is an Assistant Professor of Human Development and Learning in the Department of Educational Psychology. Her qualitative research focuses on how ecological context (community), individual, and family factors promote the resilience of low-income, ethnic-minority families and children’s transition from preschool to kindergarten. Challenging notions of dysfunction, Sarai emphasizes families’ strengths and cultural resources, and highlights the active role that low-income families play in preparing their child for school entry. Sarai also explores concrete ways to further enrich home-school collaboration.


2017 – Ph.D., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Human Development and Family Studies
2012 – M.S., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Human and Community Development
2010 – B.A., University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Sociology; Spanish (minor)

Artin Goncu

Artin Goncu is a Professor Emeritus of educational psychology and a nationally renowned scholar of human development, particularly on the role of play in children’s development.  His research focuses on the role of social and cultural contexts in human development and education.  Current research projects examine the role of community and school influences on children’s play, teacher education and professional development, and pretend play in mother-child interaction.  Artin’s books include “Children’s Engagement in the World,” “Play and Development,” “Children in play, story, and school,” and “Analyzing children’s play dialogues.”

Aisha Griffith, PhD

Aisha Griffith Headshot

Aisha Griffith, PhD is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research focuses on the development and function of supportive relationships between adolescents and non-parental adults within informal and formal learning contexts. She is particularly interested in the critical role of trust within youth-adult relationships and how these relationships support positive adolescent development.  More broadly, she is committed to connecting research and practice on out-of-school time programming.


PhD, Human and Community Development, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
MA, Human and Community Development, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
BA, History, Northwestern University

Stacey Horn, PhD

Stacey Horn Headshot

Stacey S. Horn, PhD is a Professor of Educational and Developmental Psychology in the Department of Educational Psychology, affiliate faculty member in Community Psychology and Prevention Research, and Founding Program Director for the M.Ed. program in Youth Development at University of Illinois at Chicago. Her research focuses on issues of sexual prejudice among adolescents and adolescents’ reasoning about peer harassment.


BA (English and Child Development): University of Minnesota
MAT (English):  St. Thomas University
PhD (Human Development): University of Maryland, College Park

Marisha Humphries, PhD

Marisha Humphries headshot

Marisha L. Humphries, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology and a licensed clinical psychologist. Dr. Humphries’ research seeks to develop an integrated approach to studying African American children’s normative and prosocial development, and utilizing this basic research to create culturally and developmentally appropriate school-based behavior promotion programs. Her work examines African American children’s emotional and social competence, and the ways in which educational settings can support children’s development in this area. Due to her interest and experience in applied research, Dr. Humphries’ work considers the contextual and cultural factors associated with children, families, and schools.


PhD, Clinical Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago
MS, Clinical Psychology, University of Illinois at Chicago
BS, Psychology, Howard University

Dalal Katsiaficas, PhD

Dalal Katsiaficas, PhD is an Assistant Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. Her current research focuses on exploring the social development of immigrant-origin youth in a variety of educational settings, with regards to the development of multiple identities and social and academic engagement.


PhD (Human Development and Psychology): University of California, Los Angeles
BS (Applied Psychology): New York University

Kimberly Lawless, PhD

Kimberly Lawless, PhD is the Associate Dean for Research. Her scholarly work researches the effectiveness of technology in classrooms toward improving reading comprehension skills of K-12 students. She writes and publishes widely on educational technology, instructional science, and reading. Lawless serves on the editorial review boards for several professional journals, including the International Journal of Instructional Media and the Journal of Research on Computers in Education, among others.

Kathleen M. Sheridan, PhD

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Kathleen M. Sheridan, PhD is an Associate Professor in the Educational Psychology Department at the University of Illinois in Chicago. She is also the program coordinator of the undergraduate Human Development and Learning program.  Kathy is the principal investigator on the Math at Home: Early Math Matters grant funded project.


BA: Drake University
MAED: Washington University
PhD: University of Wisconsin-Madison

Michael K. Thomas, PhD

Thomas headshot

Michael K. Thomas is an Associate Professor in the Department of Educational Psychology at the University of Illinois at Chicago. His research focuses the cultural dimensions of technology implementation in learning contexts and what this means for the design of technology-rich innovations for learning. Three key questions with respect to this are (a) What are the central concerns of teachers, trainers, and other stakeholders regarding the implementation of technology in learning contexts? (b) What do they do to continually resolve these concerns? and (c) In what ways does culture play a role in the design and implementation of technology-rich innovations? He is particularly interested in video games and gameification in learning environments. He has expertise in qualitative research in general and grounded theory in particular. Before joining, UNCC, he taught instructional technology and research methodology at the University of Oklahoma, the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and the University of North Carolina, Charlotte. He has also been an ESL/EFL teacher in New York City Public Schools and has taught overseas.


PhD, Instructional Systems Technology, Indiana University
PhD, Language Education, Indiana University

Theresa A. Thorkildsen, PhD

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Theresa (Terri) Thorkildsen is a Professor of Education and Psychology. Focusing on human development, Thorkildsen’s current research highlights how individuals incorporate their understanding of the fairness of institutional practices into their motivation to achieve academic goals. Findings from these studies illustrate how individuals formulate and enact intentions. Thorkildsen seeks to understand how youth come to understand the structure of civil engagement, and how this type of engagement differs from personal and civic engagement. This programmatic attempt to understand why some individuals become highly committed to school while others avoid such commitments is disseminated in a wide range of outlets. Thorkildsen has authored or edited five books as well as a range of journal articles, book chapters, and book reviews. As a fellow of the American Psychological Association and of the American Educational Research Association, Thorkildsen is also an active citizen in a number of professional organizations as well as in the UIC community.


1988 – PhD, Purdue University, Humanities, Social Science, & Education
(Specialization: social development, educational psychology, & research methods)

1985 – Master’s of Science, Purdue University, Humanities, Social Science, & Education
(Specialization: educational psychology)

1982 – Bachelor of Science, University of Washington, Department of Psychology