One of the best aspects of being a professor at Northern Illinois University is the association we have with the members of my research team! Our research team is comprised of both undergraduate and graduate students in the Human Development and Family Sciences Programs at Northern Illinois University. Each of the students on our research team were carefully selected based on their performance in the classroom, as well as their personal passion for helping individuals, couples, and families. We invite you to get know these wonderful researchers by reading their biographies below!
Hi! My name is Aleisha Johnson. I am a Junior at Northern Illinois University (NIU). I am majoring in Psychology with a minor in Counseling. After graduation I plan to continue my education to earn my master’s degree. I am aiming to become a Marriage and Family Therapist as a future career. I joined the Research Team to have hands-on experience with a topic I am passionate about, and to get out of my comfort zone. I truly value healthy relationships across all categories (platonic, romantic, familial, etc.) and I believe there is never enough knowledge to gain on the subject. I look forward to meeting many new people with similar passions and growing personally and professionally. Besides this, I enjoy photography and digital art.
Hello everyone! Being included as a member of the research team is what I consider to be a great honor, so it's a pleasure to introduce myself. My name is Brian Podkulski, and I am a senior year student at NIU. Since stepping foot on campus in 2020 during the year of Zoom courses, surveillance testing, and lockdown conditions, I've found myself immersed in every aspect of the college life ranging from my job at the University Libraries to student organizations and even the much-dreaded chemistry coursework, and it's all been up from there. Despite limited social opportunities during lockdown, I discovered in myself an affinity for student life and a deeper appreciation for the simple act of connecting with others on a personal level. Once destined for the Pre-Med path, on account of this realization, I have since dropped my dual major in biological sciences to pursue a pure psychology degree. Now, I maintain a renewed enthusiasm for what will be my future line of work as a counselor. In taking Dr. Sibley's HDFS 284 class, I read several of the blog posts on this very site, so I hope to provide meaningful contributions to it and our field in the near future.
Hello! My name is Breanna Terry. I just recently graduated from Northern Illinois University with a bachelor's in Human Development and Family Sciences with an Emphasis in Family Social Services and a minor in Counseling. I joined the research team back in January 2021 after I took Dr. Sibley’s HDFS 284 Class: Intro to Family Relationships. In the Fall 2023 Semester I will be attending Graduate School at NIU to study Marriage and Family Therapy. I one day hope to work in a healthcare or hospital setting to provide care to children, couples, and families. Some fun facts about me are that I am the youngest of 3, and in my spare time, I love working out and spending time with my family and friends!
Hi! My name is Elizabeth Hurdle. I am a Senior at Northern Illinois University. I am majoring in Human Development and Family Sciences with an emphasis in Family Social Services and a sub-emphasis in Prevention and Intervention with Families. My goal is to work with DCFS or another child protection agency to work with families and keep them together. I joined the research team because I have relationships that are less than healthy, and I wanted to understand how those relationships affect not only myself but also my children. I also joined the research team because I am an older student, so I don’t get to have the typical college experience that younger students have. I wanted to really involve myself and do something that would help me feel more involved in my college experience. I have been married to my husband for 12 years this year. We have 3 beautiful children who keep us busy. They are 12, 6, and 4.
Hello all! My name is Jessica Lopez, and I recently graduated from Northern Illinois University with a bachelor’s degree in Human Development and Family Science. I will begin the Marriage and Family Therapy graduate program at Northern Illinois University in the fall. I look forward to learning more about how I can help couples and family relationships while continuing my education and my specific interest in the intergenerational transmission of trauma. I joined this research team to learn how individual life experiences and adversity may impact romantic relationships and commitment. In the future, I hope to help couples and families learn how to commit to maintaining healthy relationships. Outside of school, I volunteer at a community family-friendly space for artists and musicians. Most importantly, my partner and I are the parents of a soon to be 5-year-old boy.
Hi! My name is Jordyn Saddler and I am a sophomore attending Northern Illinois University. I am currently majoring in Human Development and Family Sciences with an emphasis in Family Social Services. I not only am a part of Dr. Sibley’s research team but the NIU Women’s Soccer Team as well! I plan on graduating in May of 2025 with goals of becoming a social worker!
Hello! My name is Lizbeth Lopez. I am a first-generation junior at Northern Illinois University. I am majoring in psychology with minors in counseling and family and child studies. I hope to pursue a doctorate degree in clinical psychology with an emphasis on child psychology. Joining this research team will allow me to gain insight into aspects of relationships that I may not be familiar with and improving my knowledge. I hope to work with populations that are stigmatized by seeking mental health, I hope to help improve coping among children and their families. I wish to seek development and evaluation on culturally sensitive interventions and treatments tailored to ethnic minority populations. On my free time I enjoy volunteering with different organizations, from helping out at animal shelters to working with organizations who educate on overdose prevention while handing out free naloxone at music festivals.
Hi! My name is Katherine Smail and I’m beginning my senior year at NIU majoring in human development and family sciences with an emphasis in family social services. My goal after graduation is to pursue a master’s degree in social work and continue to work in elementary school settings. This will also be my third semester apart of Dr. Sibley’s research team. I was inspired to join after taking Dr. Sibley’s HDFS 284 class, Introduction to Family Relationships. What I learned in class about different family dynamics and situations and how they can affect an individual greatly influenced how I approach my school-work and my job. I currently work with elementary students, and having knowledge about the effects of family relationships and parental relationships has given me a better understanding of the different behaviors and situations that children experience.
Hello, my name is Kiara Edmonson. I am a Sophomore at Northern Illinois University. I am a Human Development and Family Sciences major with an emphasis in Family Social Services and a minor in Counseling. After Graduating with my undergraduate degree, I plan to enroll in Northern Illinois Universities' master's program in Counseling. My goal is to become a licensed counselor working with individuals, preferably in Substance Abuse or Mental Health Counseling. I joined the research team to gather knowledge of the research that goes into Human Development. With the information I can obtain I will use it in the field when helping others. I believe that understanding the research aspect of therapy can help me to guide others during my career as a counselor. A fun fact about me is that I am a music lover. I love to listen to music while studying, in my car, and when working out. Overall, I love studying people and understanding who and where we come from to gauge who we will become.
Hello! My name is Pelin Keceli. I am a junior at Northern Illinois University. I am majoring in Psychology and Human Development and Family Services. My goal is to become a licensed therapist of some sort and really help those in need. I joined the research team because I was intrigued from Dr. Sibley’s lectures and got very interested in how relationships work or how they don’t. I also just really want to connect with others and gain some experience with doing research and learning new information. Apart from school I work part- time at Menards, hang with my friends, and love to try new foods.
Hello, my name is Stephanie Hawes, and I am a fourth-year undergraduate student at Northern Illinois University. I am majoring in Human Development and Family Sciences, emphasizing Family Social Services. I have been called to serve families in my community by supporting them through their trials and helping them navigate life-determining decisions. I joined the research team to learn more about relationships, marriage, and the effects of divorce. In addition, using my time and talents to research scientific evidence will benefit others in making evidence-based, informed decisions. I am married to my husband of ten years, and we have a blended family with seven children.