IARYD Senior Colleagues

Mary Buckingham, Ph.D.

Mary H. Buckingham earned her Ph.D. in Child Study and Human Development from Tufts University in 2019. As a doctoral research assistant at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development (IARYD), Mary worked on several research projects including the Connecting Adolescents’ Beliefs and Behaviors (CABB) Study, the Compassion International Study of Positive Youth Development, and the Quandary Project. Mary’s dissertation examined the connection between empathy and identity in adolescence. Mary is currently a Postdoctoral Scholar at IARYD. She manages a research partnership between IARYD and LEAP Innovations, a national organization based in Chicago that connects innovation and education to transform how students learn. LEAP works with schools to implement personalized learning (PI: Richard M. Lerner).

Paul Chase, Ph.D.

Paul earned his Ph.D. in Child Study and Human Development from Tufts University in 2015. In 2017, Paul rejoined IARYD as a Postdoctoral Fellow, and led a study of the Comer Education Campus in the South Side of Chicago.  This study used person-centered, daily surveys and monthly longitudinal surveys to determine which student characteristics predicted college persistence vs dropout among African-American college freshmen from high poverty urban neighborhoods.  In 2018, Paul was promoted to Research Assistant Professor, and was the director of a partnership between Turnaround for Children (TFC) and IARYD.  Paul led a partnership with TFC to develop survey tools, observational measures, and administrative data, and to conduct analyses of TFC’s process and impact.  Paul is currently the director of the Measures and Methods Across the Developmental Continuum (MMDC) project at IARYD.

Elizabeth Dowling, Ph.D.

Elizabeth was the first doctoral student to graduate from IARYD, in 2003. After graduation, Elizabeth became the Director of Research for ImagineNations Group where she designed and led research and evaluation on youth employment and business development for ImagineNations and its global, multi-sectoral partners. She is currently a Senior Research Scientist at IARYD, where she manages the Compassion International Study of Positive Youth Development. She lives in Denver, Colorado with her daughter.

Hillary Schaefer, Ph.D.

Hillary S. Schaefer is a Research Assistant Professor at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development in the Eliot-Pearson Department of Child Study and Human Development at Tufts University. She is also a Licensed Clinical Psychologist, with experience in both inpatient and outpatient settings. She was most recently the Clinic Director of the Children’s Learning Clinic at the University of Virginia, a research-clinic focused on the assessment and treatment of children. Her active collaborations span a variety of applied contexts in the realm of positive youth development.

Currently, along with the rest of the Project Arete team, Dr. Schaefer works on a study of character development among Cadets at West Point (PI: Richard M. Lerner). Her research interests include the intersection of social-emotional, physical, and cognitive development, in a PYD framework. She is interested in better understanding the pathways through which youth with diverse strengths and difficulties become young adults of character, and how strength-based approaches can be integrated across an array of contexts.  

Dr. Schaefer received her Ph.D. at the University of Virginia in 2013. She completed her APA-accredited clinical internship at the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Denver, CO and her postdoctoral clinical work at the Sheila Johnson Center at the University of Virginia. She is currently licensed in New York State.

Jonathan Tirrell, Ph.D.

Jonathan’s research focuses on positive youth development and, in particular, on moral character development and thriving among youth living in poverty in low- and middle-income countries.  He completed his Ph.D. in 2017 at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts, with a focus on forgiveness as a character virtue among elementary school students as part of the Arthur Interactive Media Study.  He served as a postdoctoral scholar on the Compassion International Study of Positive Youth Development, a collaboration with Compassion International, Boston College, Fuller Theological Seminary, and Tufts University, evaluating the child-sponsorship intervention programs of Compassion International in El Salvador and Rwanda and their impact in promoting thriving among youth living in poverty.  Jonathan is now a Research Assistant Professor in the Institute, working to expand the scope of the Compassion International Study of Positive Youth Development to focus on idiographic assessments and evaluations of youth-development intervention programs in majority-world countries.

In addition, Jonathan is the Managing Editor of the Journal of Character Education (Information Age Publishing), and the Associate Editor, Character Development, of Applied Developmental Science (Taylor & Francis).

Dian Yu, Ph.D.

Dian received her Ph.D. in 2019 from the University of Georgia, under the mentorship of Dr. Emilie Smith. She will be joining IARYD in September 2019 as a postdoctoral fellow.

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