We’re a team of faculty, staff and graduate students who are working together to develop knowledge about risk, protective factors, couple development and marriage education to enhance marital and family relationships. Read on to learn more about our team’s research interests and backgrounds.



Howard J. Markman


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Scott Michael Stanley

Research Professor

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Our Team

  • Faculty

    Galena Rhoades, Research Professor

    Galena Rhoades, PhD, is a research associate professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Denver. Her research is on romantic relationship development and functioning, and the related implications for children and adults.

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    Elizabeth Allen, Assistant Professor, University of Colorado Denver

    Elizabeth Allen, PhD, has been involved with the Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP) in both clinical and research capacities since 1991. She is currently an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Colorado Denver, while still maintaining active collaboration with the Center for Marital and Family Studies. She is involved in a number of projects that are all designed to understand struggles and strengths of marriages, and how we can best support healthy marriage and family.

    For more information regarding Allen's research at the University of Colorado Denver, please visit Relationship Studies Lab - University of Colorado.

  • Research Associate

    Shauna Rienks

    Shauna Rienks, PhD, is a research associate for the federally funded Fatherhood Relationship and Marriage Education (FRAME) project in the Department of Psychology at the University of Denver. She is originally from Trinidad, Colorado, and earned her bachelor's degree in psychology from Princeton University. She taught English at a university in South Korea for five years before returning to Colorado to earn her MA and PhD in developmental psychology from the University of Denver.

    She has worked on the FRAME project since 2006. For FRAME she conducts research on a randomized, controlled trial of a psychoeducation program that teaches skills to improve couple relationships, help couples cope with financial stress and enhance parenting. In addition to her interest in couple and family relationships as they impact development across the lifespan, her research interests include schools as a context for child and adolescent development, and self and social identity with an emphasis on gender, ethnicity and culture.

  • Project Coordinator

    Marcie Pregulman

    Marcie Pregulman has worked on multiple grants in the Center for Marital and Family Studies since 2006. Working mainly on the intervention side of the research, she has been able to use her PREP training to work with couples and individuals to help them with their relationship. In addition, Pregulman is an internationally known PREP trainer and offers relationship help to individuals and couples over the phone.

  • Clinical Graduate Students

    Kayla Knopp

    Kayla Knopp is a Denver native and graduated from the University of Colorado Denver in 2008. Until recently, her background has primarily been in cognitive neuroscience research, so she's excited to begin doctoral work in clinical and couples psychology in the fall of 2012 as part of the Center for Marital and Family Studies Lab at DU.

    Her primary research interests include understanding commitment in nontraditional relationships (such as LGBT, non-monogamous or polyamorous, companionate and unmarried relationships); cognitive-based approaches to relationship research and therapy; the role of sex and intimacy in commitment; and comprehensive relationship and sex education for adolescents and teens.

    Ben Loew

    Ben Loew is from Wilmette, Illinois, and studied psychology and cognitive science at the University of Pennsylvania before entering DU's Clinical Psychology PhD program in the fall of 2008. He is currently the graduate research assistant for the Center's Army Marriage Project.

    Loew's research interests are in couple-relationship development and the dissemination of empirically-supported marriage/relationship education programs. His long-term career goals are to continue research efforts in these areas.

    Laura Osborne

    Laura Osborne has been with the Center for Marital and Family Studies since 2011 and is a research assistant for the Family Stability Project and Army Marriage Project. Her research interests primarily focus on stress and coping within the military population, particularly among couples and families. She graduated with a BS in psychology from Colorado State University in May 2011.

    Aleja Parsons

    Aleja Parsons is pursuing her PhD as a first year graduate student at the University of Denver. Her research interests include exploring how culturally unique experiences impact African American couples. Parsons is currently working on her master's thesis which will focus on how negative marital attitudes impact dating decisions and relationship satisfaction.

    Originally from Atlanta, Parsons received her BS in psychology from Howard University in Washington, D.C. in 2010. Following her undergraduate graduation, Parsons spent a year volunteering in Senegal, which inspired her future goals to apply a global perspective to the advancement of research on African American couples.

    Jocelyn Petrella

    Jocelyn Petrella received her BA in psychology from Princeton University in 2002. She worked at the University of Michigan in a developmental psychology lab for two years before starting the PhD program at the University of Denver.

    She is currently a second-year graduate student with an interest in how couples deal with conflict. More specifically, she is interested in how the division of household tasks and childcare can be a source of stress for couples. Her master's thesis is designed to explore the way in which a couple divides household labor and childcare responsibilities, as well as how this division of family work impacts marital satisfaction, over the course of marriage.

    At the Center for Marital and Family Studies, Petrella's main responsibilities include interviewing couples, interactional dimensions coding and helping to manage the data sets.

    Shelby Scott

    Shelby Scott was born and raised in Dallas, Texas, and graduated from the University of Houston in 2009. She is now a second-year graduate student and research assistant in the Center for Marital and Family Studies.

    She is currently working on her master's project that focuses on the effects of the transition to parenthood on unmarried couples and a pilot study that focuses on lesbian romantic relationships. She works on several other projects including the Divorce Study, which interviews divorced couples who have participated in premarital interventions with the hope to improve such programs, and the Relationship Development Study, which studies romantic relationships from participants around the nation.

    Her research interests include extending couples research to underrepresented populations, such as unmarried couples, the LGBT community and low SES/minority families. In the future, Scott also hopes to tailor relationship interventions for these specific populations. She is passionate about community engagement and disseminating research to the communities that need these services the most. In her free time, Scott and her partner love spending time outside hiking, running and playing soccer!