African American Youth Development Research Lab
Lab Members

Dr. Shauna M. Cooper

( Principal Investigator)

Dr. Shauna M. Cooper is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. She earned a Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

Her research program examines cultural and contextual factors that contribute to positive youth development, with a specific focus on African American adolescents and families. An important guiding principle of Dr. Cooper's research program has been the integration of developmental and community psychological theoretical frameworks to better understand variation in the experiences of African American children and families. Her work spans multiple areas (e.g., parental involvement; ethnic-racial socialization; gender-related processes; youth community involvement) and has been published in a variety of scientific journals, including the Journal of Research on Adolescence; Journal of Youth and Adolescence; Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology; Family Relations, and Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review.  Currently, she is the principal investigator of a National Science Foundation funded longitudinal investigation, which examines change and continuity in African American fathers’ parenting practices and linkages to adolescent adjustment. Dr. Cooper also is committed to the translation of her research, including the development of culturally specific intervention and prevention programming. She serves on the editorial board for Child Clinical and Family Psychology Review, Social Development, Developmental Psychology, and Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Psychology (consulting editor).

Graduate Students

Melanie Avery

(Doctoral Student, Clinical-Community Program)

Melanie Avery received her B.A. (Magna Cum Laude) in Psychology from Morgan State University in Baltimore, Maryland. Her research interests focus on understanding race-related stress and treatment of mental disorders in African Americans. Additionally, she is interested in factors contributing to educational attainment and achievement among African American populations. Melanie has conducted several research projects as a trainee with Morgan State University’s Career Opportunities in Research (COR) program funded by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) and the Leadership Alliance at Howard University. Melanie’s future plans are to implement specialized programs based on research findings to help improve African Americans overall quality of life.

Alexandrea Golden

(Doctoral Student, Clinical-Community Psychology)

Alexandrea Golden received her Bachelor of Arts degree in Psychology from Spelman College and her Masters of Arts Degree in Counseling for Mental Health and Wellness from New York University.  She is currently a second year student in the Clinical-Community Psychology Doctoral Program at the University of South Carolina. Her research interests include factors (e.g. peer support, school contextual factors, etc) that directly and indirectly contribute to positive adjustment. Also, Alexandrea has a strong interest in prevention science.

Shamika Martin

(Doctoral Student, Arnold School of Public Health )

Shamika Martin Walls graduated from Wofford College with a Bachelor of Arts in Accounting and received her Masters of Business Administration with emphasis in Healthcare Management from Gardner-Webb University. She completed a post baccalaureate premedical program at Georgia State University. After completing the MED program at UNC, she began an IRTA Fellowship at the National Institute of Environmental Health and Sciences (NIEHS) performing biomedical research with nano particles. Currently, she is pursuing a PhD in Health Services Policy and Management at the Arnold School of Public Health at USC in Columbia, SC.

Shamika is a Community Recruitment Specialist for the AAYD lab and is currently leading F.A.M.I.L.Y project recruitment in the North Augusta area.


Undergraduate Students

Jerica Knox

(Research Assistant)

Jerica Knox is a Junior Experimental Psychology major (with a minor in Social Work) at the University of South Carolina. She has participated in research relating to the social and moral development of children.  Specifically, her research interests include the exploration of mental health and self-esteem in children as it relates to positive youth development.  Besides research, she focuses her time volunteering with at-risk youth and being an advocate for mental health awareness. Jerica intends to obtain a PhD in School Psychology.

John Martin

(Research Assistant)

John Martin is a Psychology Major (with a Sociology minor) at the University of South Carolina. His research interests include the intersection of law and psychology, with a specific focus on family life and well-being. After graduating, John plans to pursue a graduate degree in Applied Psychology.

AAYD Research Lab
University of South Carolina
Department of Psychology
554 Barnwell College,
Columbia, SC 29208
Lab Phone: (803) 777 - 6981
AAYD Research Lab
Shamika Martin
Shamika Martin
AAYDLab Community Engagement and Outreach Undergraduate Research Opportunities