Research Support & Awards


The Melissa Institute nurtures the work of young scientists by awarding annual scholarships to support doctoral students' dissertation research in the field of violence prevention. The 2010 winners have been announced! Please click here to find out more information.

Past winners include:

2007 - Lisa D. Bailey, M. S.
University of Miami
Annette M. La Greca, Ph.D., Advisor
"Social Support as a Moderator of the Relationship between Peer Victimization and Psychosocial Maladjustment in Adolescent Boys and Girls""

2007 - Jennifer L. Becker, L.C.S.W.
Florida International University
Barbara Thomlison, Ph.D., Advisor
"The Impact of Child Sexual Abuse on Socioemotional Development during Early Childhood"

2007 - Stephanie T. Mihalas, M.A.
University of South Florida
Linda M. Raffaele Mendez, Ph.D., Advisor
"Utilization of an Ecological Framework to Address the Relationship between Relational Victimization and Depression in High-Risk Minority Adolescents"

2007 - Sara G. Whitcomb, Ed.M.
University of Oregon
Kenneth W. Merrell, Ph.D., Advisor
"Strong Start: The Impact of Direct Teaching of a Social-Emotional Learning Curriculum and Infusion of Skills on Emotion Knowledge of First Grade Students"

2006 - Kofi-len Belfon, M.A
University of Guelph
Michael Grand, Ph.D., Advisor
"The Effects of Chronic Community Violence on Parents and Adolescents"

2006 - Kahni Clements, M.A.
Indiana University
Amy Holtzworth-Munroe, Ph.D., Advisor
"Day to Day Correlates of Couples Conflict"

2006 - Abigail K. Mansfield, M.A.
Clark University
Michael Addis, Ph.D., Advisor
"Aggression and Its Connections to Trauma and Gender Norms"

2006 - Genelle K. Sawyer, M.A.
University of Nebraska
David J.Hansen, Ph.D., Advisor
"Heterogeneous Symptom Patterns in Sexually Abused Youth in Treatment"

2005 - Michelle Harwood, M.S.
University of Florida
Sheila M. Eyberg, Ph.D., ABPP, Advisor
"Early Identification and Intervention for Disruptive Behavior in Primary
Care: A Randomized Control Trial"

2005 - Erica M. Woodin, M.A.
Stony Brook University
K. Daniel O'Leary, Ph.D., Advisor
"Motivational Interviewing to Prevent Partner Aggression in Young Adults"

2005 - Brian Wymbs, M.A.
William E. Pelham, Jr. Ph.D., Advisor
"Does Disruptive Child Behavior Cause Interparental Discord? An Experimental

2004 - Amy Yuile, York University. Debra Pepler, Ph.D., Advisor. "Developmental pathways of aggressive girls in adolescence: A follow-up study of girls who participated in a gender-specific intervention."

2004 - Anil Chacko, State University of New York at Buffalo. William E. Pelham, Jr., Ph.D., Advisor. "Treatment for single-mothers of children diagnosed with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder: A comparison between a traditional and an enhanced behavioral parenting program."

2004 - Deborah Neft, Rutgers University. Maurice Ellis, Ph.D., Advisor. "An investigation of the role of social and emotional skills to inform school-based bully prevention programs."

2003 - Joie Acosta, University of Hawaii, "Chronic Community Violence and Adolescent Peer Group Activity Settings: A Cross-Cultural Comparison".

2003 - Hannah Moore, University of Miami, "Peer Victimization and Depressive Symptoms in Adolescence: The Role of Rejection Sensitivity".

2003 - Andy Williams, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, "Childhood Predictors of Adolescent and Young Adult Delinquency".

2003 - Heather K. Blier, Virginia Tech, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, "Teacher Attribution and Disciplinary Reaction to Students' Aggression and Violence in the Classroom".

2002 - Alissa Glickman, University of Miami, "Parental Monitoring of Children Exposed to Community Violence: Predicting Externalizing Behaviors. "

2002 - Negar Mahmoodzadegan, University of Virginia, "The Relationship of Childhood Abuse Histories to Peer Conflict for Women in Prison."

2001 - Nicole Eldridge Marcus, University of Miami, "Dimensions of Marital Aggression and Children's Aggressive Schemas in Clinic-Referred Families."

2001 - Katherine Herron, Indiana University, "A Multi-faceted Examination of Power in Couples Experiencing Husband Violence."

2000 - Mark Bodnarchuk, University of British Columbia, "Psychological and Behavioral Typologies of Men Who Batter."

1999 - Janine Saunders, University of Texas at Austin, "Exposure to Chronic Community Violence in African-American Children: Kinship and Spirituality Factors."

1998 - Sharon Geary, Boston University, "Violence Prevention, Social Support and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder Among Urban Low-Income Children."

1998 - Richard Van Dorn, Washington University, "Adolescent Offenders: Understanding the Transition from Nonviolent to Violent Offending."

The Institute's Board of Directors may, at their sole discretion, bestow awards on individuals or organizations who have made a significant impact on the Institute and/or the community.  These awards are meritorious, and are not given every year.

In 2004, The Institute honored R. Kirk Landon, President of the Kirk Foundation, with the Special Angel Award. Mr. Landon was recognized for "his commitment to children, his philanthropy in support of many worthwhile human endeavors, and his unwavering support for The Melissa Institute for Violence Prevention and Treatment."


This award recognizes an individual whose work, dedication, contributions to the community and volunteerism are consistent with the Institute's goal of reducing violence and helping victims and their families.

2004 Winner - Modesto Abety, President and CEO of The Children's Trust of Miami Dade.

2003 Winner - Walter F. Lambert, MD, Medical Director of the Child Protection Team and Associate Professor of Clinical Pediatrics, University of Miami

2002 Winner - Pat Morris, Chairman of Hands On Miami and Vice President of Community and Public Affairs, VISTA Healthplan.

2001 Winner - Judge Tom Petersen, retired from the Juvenile Division of Miami-Dade County Circuit Court.


This award brings recognition and financial support to an individual who is working in the school setting to reduce the incidence of violent behavior in Miami-Dade County schools.

2004 Winner - Julie Astuto, Counselor at Palmetto Elementary School, Miami, Florida.

2003 Winner - Beth Davis, Sponsor/Founder of Kids4KidsClub Inc., teacher at Jack Gordon Elementary School and Adjunct Professor, Barry University

2002 Winner - Centennial Middle School - Elvoyd Fischer, Principal, and Carol Brown, Assistant Principal. Centennial was recognized for creativity, dedication and leadership for the "Youth Conference on Bullying" held in November 2001.


This award was named in memory of Norma Bossard, who supervised language arts and reading programs for Miami-Dade County Public Schools for many years.  The award is given to a reading professional for outstanding efforts to promote student and family literacy in Miami-Dade County.

The Norma Bossard Award includes $500 from The Melissa Institute and $500 in books provided by a publisher for the recipient's school.  A plaque is presented in recognition of the individual's commitment to children, dedication to literacy and actions that support the motto, “A book in every child’s hands.”  The selection is made by the M-DCPS Language Arts Department.

2004 Winner - Dale M. Willows, Ph.D., University of Toronto

2003 Winner - Theresa O'Donnell, Homestead Middle School

2002 Winner - Marilyn Wolfson, Milam K-8 Center

2001 Winner - Libby Miller, Claude Pepper Elementary School

2000 Winner - Lois Magnus, Madison Middle School

2013 Dissertation Award Winners

The Melissa Institute Belfer-Aptman Dissertation Research Award for 2013 was awarded to:

Bullet Sara L. Stromeyer, M.A.
John E. Lochman, Ph.D., Advisor
University of Alabama
"Relationships Between the Hostile Attribution Bias and the Positive Illusory Bias in Aggressive Children and Their Mothers: The Role of Schemas and Intergenerational Influences"

2012 Dissertation Award Winners

The Melissa Institute Belfer-Aptman Dissertation Research Awards for 2012 were awarded to:

Bullet Sarah A. O. Gray, M.A.
Alice S. Carter, Ph.D., Advisor
University of Massachusetts Boston
"The Role of Parent Insight in Young Children's Trauma Exposure: Testing a Relational Model of Risk and Resilience"

Bullet Mrinalini Aroor Rao, M.A., M.S.
Dorothy L. Espelage, Ph.D., Advisor
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
"Peer Victimization and Substance Use in Early Adolescence: An Examination of Risk and Protective Factors"

2011 Dissertation Award Winners

The Melissa Institute Belfer-Aptman Dissertation Research Awards for 2011 were awarded to:

Bullet Stephanie Donnelly, M.Ed.
Guerda Nicolas, Ph.D., Advisor
University of Miami
"Understanding the Experiences of Immigrant Mothers in Defining and Coping With Intimate Partner Violence"

Bullet Michelle Kozey, M.A.
Shelley Hymel, Ph.D. and Laurie Ford, Ph.D., Advisors
Director of Clinical Training, Psychology
University of British Columbia
"Childhood Aggression and Executive Functions"

Bullet Ryan Landoll, M.A.
Annette M. La Greca, Ph.D., Advisor
University of Miami
"The New Frontier of Peer Victimization: Associations Between Adolescents’ On-line Peer Victimization and Internalizing Symptoms Over Time"

2010 Disseration Award Winners

The Melissa Institute Belfer-Aptman Dissertation Research Awards for 2010 were awarded to:

Bullet Lydia Barhight, M.A.
Julie A. Hubbard, Ph.D., Advisor
University of Delaware
"Children’s Physiological and Emotional Reactions to Witnessing Bullying"

Bullet Heidi Kar, M.H.S., M.A.
K. Daniel O'Leary, Ph.D., Advisor
Director of Clinical Training, Psychology
Stony Brook University
"Victims Who Victimize: The Association Between PTSD and Intimate Partner Violence Among Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) Veterans OEF/OIF Veterans"

2009 Disseration Award Winners

The Melissa Institute Belfer-Aptman Dissertation Research Award.

Bullet Jennifer S. Mendel, B.S.
Daniel W. Webster, Sc.D., MPH, Advisor
Johns Hopkins University
"From Promise to Practice: Keys to Successful Implementation of Street Outreach for Youth Violence Prevention"

Bullet Nicholas A. Mescia, M.A.
Etiony Aldarondo, Ph.D., Advisor
University of Miami
"A Structural Equation Model Examination of Traumatic Stress, Psychological Distress, Social Support and Quality of Life with HIV+ African American Women in Drug Recovery"

Bullet Michael L. Sulkowski, M.Ed.
Thomas Oakland, Ph.D., Advisor
University of Florida
"An Investigation of Students’ Willingness to Report Threats of Violence in Campus Communities"

2008 Dissertation Award Winners

Annually, The Melissa institute makes awards of $2,000 to help fund outstanding Graduate Research Projects. 2008 winners are:

Shanna B. Dulen, M.A.
Etiony Aldarondo, Ph.D., Advisor
University of Miami
"Assessment of Traumatic Experience, Distal and Proximal Risk and Protective Factors and Differential Adjustment Indicators of Unaccompanied Immigrant Children"

Anita Jose, M.A.
K. Daniel O'Leary, Ph.D., Advisor
Stony Brook University
"Antisocial Traits, Borderline Traits, Substance Use, Marital Distress, and Psychological Aggression as Predictors of Physical Aggression in Couples"

Andrea Regina, MSCCP
Dale M. Willows, Ph.D., Advisor
Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, Universtiy of Toronto
"At-Risk Youth with Reading Difficulties: Targeting Negative Consequences through Literacy Intervention"

Kimberly A. Van Orden, M.S.
Thomas E. Joiner, Jr., Ph.D., Advisor
Florida State University
"Construct Validity of the Interpersonal Needs Questionnaire"