ChAD faculty

In addition to being committed teachers, Child and Adolescent Development (ChAD) faculty members are active researchers whose work represents a broad range of interests across the discipline of child development. Our staff are focused on helping students achieve their goals.

Department Chair

Ravisha Mathur, Ph.D. 

Faculty Directory

Janet Bang, Ph.D.

  • Assistant Professor
  • Diverse Interactions Around Language (DIAL) lab

Sylvia Branca, Ph.D.

  • Senior Lecturer

Krissy Connell

  • Senior Lecturer
  • Community Outreach Coordinator

Mary Conroy, Ph.D.

  • Senior Lecturer

Tara Duffy

  • Lecturer

Joy Foster

Jessica Fraser

  • Lecturer
  • Child Development Lab Preschool, Toddler Lab Instructor

Maria Fusaro, Ed.D.

Dina Izenstark, Ph.D.

John Jabagchourian, Ph.D.

  • Senior Lecturer
  • Program Coordinator, B.A. Educational and Community Leadership

Janet Kitajima

  • Senior Lecturer

Robin Love, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor

Cara Maffini, Ph.D.

Jila Maleksalehi, Ed.D

Robert Marx, Ph.D.

Danielle Mead, Ph.D.

  • Associate Professor
  • Graduate Program Coordinator

Ellen Middaugh, Ph.D.

Adam Nilsen

Teresa O'Donnell-Johnson, Ph.D.

  • Senior Lecturer
  • Undergraduate Student Advisor

Paula Oakes

  • Senior Lecturer

Jennifer Pearlman

  • Senior Lecturer

Laura Pirazzi

  • Senior Lecturer
  • Undergraduate Student Advisor

Amita Shah

  • Senior Lecturer

Emily Slusser, Ph.D.

Jamie Smith

  • Lecturer

Maureen Smith, Ph.D.

  • Professor

Meghna Soni

  • Lecturer

Nadia Sorkhabi, Ph.D.

  • Professor
  • Graduate Program Coordinator

Kim Tsai, Ph.D

Meet the Faculty

Recent Faculty Highlights


Dr. Ellen Middaugh was selected by the SJSU Office of Research and Innovation to receive the Early Career Investigator Award. Dr. Middaugh and her team of Student Research Assistants – George Franco, Kristen Huey, and Kristina Smith – research how youth utilize social media platforms to empower their voices, promote community and encourage civic engagement.  Watch the recognition video above that was shown during the SJSU Celebration of Research.

Community Engagement

Dr. Maria Fusaro and Dr. Emily Slusser, as part of the SJSU Early Childhood Institute (ECI), cohosted the webinar "Centralizing Our Dual-Language Learners: The Power of the Family-School Partnership in Early Childhood Education" with Ana Marisol Sanchez and Cory Wechsler, Program Coordinators at the Sobrato Early Academic Language (SEAL).

Dr. Robert Marx co-presented "Queering the Classroom to Foster a Safe and Inclusive Environment" as part of the SJSU Lurie College of Education K-12 Teaching Academy.

Dr. Jila Maleksalehi and Dr. Robert Marx co-organized the SJSU x REP4 Learner Design Summit, which convened high school, community college, and university students to to collaborate and design creative proposals to address existing challenges in the higher education system.

Faculty in the Media

 Dina Izenstark

Dr. Dina Izenstark was quoted in the National Geographic article “Want better talks with your kids? Take them outside.”

“Nature restores people’s ability to pay attention to conversations and reduces their mental fatigue,” says Dina Izenstark, associate professor of child and adolescent development at San José State University and one of the authors of the 2021 study. “This can help family members communicate more effectively and get along better with one another.”

Dr. Kim Tsai spoke on adolescent sleep in light of new state legislation with later start times 

Dr. Robert Marx was on the news to speak about the "Don't Say Gay" bill that was passed in Florida earlier this year.

Research News

ChAD Lunchbox Series: Join us the 3rd Friday of every month to hear about ChAD faculty and student research. 

Some Recent Publications

Izenstark, D., Crossman, K. A., & Middaugh, E. (2022). Examining family-based nature activities among Latinx students: Contexts for reinforcing family relationships and cultural heritage. Annals of Leisure Research, 25(4), 451-471.

Izenstark, D., & Middaugh, E. (2022). Patterns of family-based nature activities across the early life course and their association with adulthood outdoor participation and preference. Journal of Leisure Research, 53(1), 4-26. https://doi.org/10.1080/00222216.2021.1875274

Fusaro, M., Lippard, C. N., Cook, G. A., Decker, K. B., Vallotton, C. D., & Collaborative for Understanding the Pedagogy of Infant/toddler Development (CUPID). (2021). The role of practice-based experiences in undergraduates’ infant/toddler caregiving competencies. Journal of Early Childhood Teacher Education, 1-14.

Maffini, C. S., & Dillard, K. C. (2022). Safe & sound? Perceptions of campus safety for Black college students. Race Ethnicity and Education, 25(1), 2-17. https://doi.org/10.1080/13613324.2021.1997972

Marx, R., Maffini, C. S., & Peña, F. (2022). Understanding nonbinary college students’ experiences on college campuses: An exploratory study of mental health, campus Involvement, victimization and safety. Journal of Diversity in Higher Education. https://doi.org/ 10.1037/dhe0000422

Middaugh, E., Bell, S., Kornbluh, M. (2022). Think before you share: Building a civic media literacy framework for everyday contexts. Information and Learning Science, 123(7/8), 421–444. https://doi.org/10.1108/ILS-03-2022-0030

O’Brien, M. D., Marx, R. A., Calzo, J. P., Poteat, V. P., & Ceccolini, C. J. (2022). The Elephant in the GSA: Associations Between Discussions of the 2016 US Presidential Election and Mental Health Outcomes in Gender-Sexuality Alliances. Youth & Society, 0044118X221099049.


  • Dr. Janet Bang received the 2022-2023 SJSU RSCA grant.
  • Dr. Robert Marx received the 2020 SRCD Small Grant for Early Career Scholars.
  • Dr. Ellen Middaugh received the 2019 Spencer Grant.
  • Dr. Kim Tsai received a SJSU RSCA grant 2021-2022; 2020-2021.
  • Dr. Cara Maffini and the HDCC team received grants from El Camino Health Foundation (2022-2023) and the SAMHSA (2022-2023)