Leah Hibel

Position Title
Professor of Human Development and Family Studies



Research Interests 
Mother-child relationships and physiological regulation; family stress/parenting stress and stress physiology; the transaction among family stress, family relationships, and stress physiology; lactation physiology

Diversity Statement 
Issues surrounding diversity are central to my research, teaching, and outreach. My research attempts to fill important gaps in our understanding of adverse social and economic experiences on child and family well-being. In particular, I have studied underserved populations such as those in rural settings, families in poverty, African American families, Hispanic families, maltreated children, and families with shift working parents. I prioritize teaching about diverse experiences in my Sexuality, Child Development, and Family courses. I am strongly committed to increasing the diversity of scholars in child and family studies and have had trainings on being a mentor to students of color. Lastly, it is important to me that research informs policy and action. Therefore, I have connected with numerous local and regional agencies providing services to foster parents, foster youth, women and children in poverty, and maltreating parents. As part of my outreach I have written opinion pieces for the New York Times and Sacramento Bee speaking out against detaining migrant children.

Current projects

Please see my lab webpage for information on my current project, the California Babies Project.

Principal Investigator, “Buffers to the mental and physical health impacts of the COVID - 19 crisis”. COVID-19 Research Accelerator Funding Track (CRAFT) Program, Grant total: $24,375.

Hibel, L. C. & Patler, C. (2019) New York Times, Opinion, What will indefinite detention do to migrant kids? The evidence is clear: No detention center is safe and healthy for children.


Selected Publications 

*Indicates student author

Hibel, L. C., Boyer*, C., Buhler-Wassmann*, A., & Ugarte*, E., (2023) Fluctuations in stressors and supports are associated with parent-child relationship quality across the COVID19 pandemic: a within and between family analysis. Journal of Family Psychology. 

Buhler-Wassmann*, A. C., & Hibel, L. C. (2021). Studying caregiver-infant co-regulation in dynamic, diverse cultural contexts: A call to action. Infant Behavior and Development, 64, 101586.

Valentino, K., Hibel, L. C., Speidel, R.*, Fondren, K., Ugarte*, E., (2020) Longitudinal effects of Reminiscing and Emotion Training on maltreated children’s diurnal cortisol regulation. Development and Psychopathology.

Hibel, L. C., Nuttall, A., M., & Valentino, K. (2020) Intimate partner violence indirectly dysregulates child diurnal adrenocortical functioning. International Journal of Developmental Neuroscience, 80, 28-41.

Ellberg, C.,* Sayler, K.,* & Hibel, L. C., (2019) Maternal distress across the peripartum period is associated with infant secretory immunoglobulin A. Developmental Psychobiology.

Valentino, K., Cummings, E. M., Borkowski, J., Hibel, L. C., Lefever, J., & Lawson, M. (2019) Efficacy of a Reminiscing and Emotion Training Intervention on Maltreating Families with Preschool Aged Children. Developmental Psychology.

Valentino, K., Cummings, E. M., Borkowski, J., Hibel, L. C., Lefever, J., & Lawson, M. (2019) Efficacy of a Reminiscing and Emotion Training Intervention on Maltreating Families with Preschool Aged Children. Developmental Psychology.

Hibel, L.C., Buhler-Wassmann, A.* Trumbell, J. M. & Liu, S. (2019) Marital conflict sensitizes mothers to infant negativity: a randomized controlled experiment. Infant and Child Development.

Hibel, L. C., Mercado, E., & Valentino, K., (2019) Child maltreatment and mother-child transmission of stress physiology. Special Issue on Neurobiology. Child Maltreatment.

Hibel, L. C., Trumbell, J. M., Valentino, K., & Buhler-Wassmann, A.* (2018) Ecologically salient stressors and supports and the coordination of cortisol and salivary alpha-amylase in mothers and infants. Physiology & Behavior.

Trumbell, J., M. Hibel, L. C., Mercado, E., & Posada, G. (2018) The impact of marital withdrawal and secure base script knowledge on mothers’ and fathers’ parenting. Journal of Family Psychology 32(6), 699-709. Journal of Family Psychology

Hibel, L. C., & Mercado, E.* (2017) Marital conflict predicts mother-to-infant adrenocortical transmission. Child Development

Valentino, K, De Alba, A*, Hibel, L. C., & McDonnell, C. (2017) Adherence to Diurnal Cortisol Sampling among Mother-Child Dyads from Maltreating and Nonmaltreating Families. Child Maltreatment.

Mercado, E.,* & Hibel, L. C., (2017) I love you from the bottom of my hypothalamus: The role of stress physiology in romantic pair bond formation and maintenance. Social Personality Psychology Compass, 11, e12298.

Finegood, E.,* Blair, D., Granger, D. A., Hibel, L. C., Mills-Koonce, W. R., & The Family Life Project Investigators. (2016) Maternal Salivary Cortisol and Cumulative Risk Predict Parenting Behavior in the Postpartum Period.Developmental Psychology, 52, 1073-1087.

Hibel, L. C., & Schiltz, H.* (2016). Maternal and Infant Secretory Immunoglobulin A across the Peripartum Period. Journal of Human Lactation, 32, 44-51. doi: 10.1177/0890334415610578

Hibel, L.C., Granger, D. A., Blair, C., Finegood, E., & The Family Life Project Investigators (2014). Maternal-Child Adrenocortical Attunement in Early Childhood: Continuity and Change. Developmental Psychobiology.

Payne, L. B., Hibel, L. C., Granger, D. A., Tsao, J. C. I., & Zeltzer, L. K. (2014). Relationship of salivary alpha amylase to social anxiety in healthy children undergoing laboratory pain tasks. Journal of Child and Adolescent Behavior, 2, 129.

Hibel, L. C., Trumbell, J. M.* & Mercado, E.* (2014). Work/Non-workday differences in mother, child, and mother-child morning cortisol in a sample of working mothers and their children. Early Human Development, 90, 1–7.

Hibel, L. C., Senguttavan, U.*, & Bauer, N. (2013). Do state differences moderate the relationship between depressive symptoms and morning cortisol? Hormones and Behavior, 63, 484-490.

Hibel, L. C., Mercado, E.*, & Trumbell, J. M.* (2012). Parenting stressors and morning cortisol in a sample of working mothers. Journal of Family Psychology, 26, 738-746.

Hibel, L. C., Granger, D. A., Blair, C., Cox, M., & The Family Life Project Investigators. (2011). Maternal sensitivity buffers the adrenocortical implications of intimate partner violence exposure during early childhood. Development and Psychopathology, 23, 689-701.

Blair, C., Raver, C., Granger, D., Mills-Koonce, W. R., Hibel, L. C., & The Family Life Project Investigators. (2011). Allostasis and Allostatic Load in the Context of Poverty in Early Childhood. Development and Psychopathology, 23, 845-857.

Carney, J-L., Hazler, R. J., Oh, I., Hibel, L. C., & Granger, D. A. (2010).  The relationships between bullying exposures in middle childhood, anxiety, and adrenocortical activity. Journal of School Violence, 9, 194-199.

Hibel, L. C., Granger, D. A., Blair, C., Cox, M., & The Family Life Project Investigators. (2009).  Intimate partner violence moderates the relationship between mother-infant adrenocortical responses to an emotional challenge. Journal of Family Psychology, 23, 615-625.

Granger, D. A., Hibel, L. C., Fortunato, C. K., & Kapelewski C. H. (2009). Medication effects on salivary cortisol: Mechanisms of action, a “watch list”, and tactics to minimize impact in biobehavioral research.Psychoneuroendocrinology, 34, 1437-48.

Blair, C., Granger, D. A., Kivlighan, K. T., Willoughby, M., Greenberg, M., Hibel, L.C., Fortunato, C. K., & The Family Life Project Investigators. (2008). Maternal and child contributions to cortisol response to emotional arousal in young children from low-income, rural communities. Developmental Psychology, 44, 1095-109.

Granger, D. A., Fortunato, C., & Hibel, L. C.  (2007). Salivary Hormones in Research and Diagnostics. In D. Wong (Ed), Saliva Diagnostics, Blackwell Press.

Granger, D. A., Kivlighan, K. T., Fortunato, C., Harmon, A. G., Hibel, L. C., Schwartz, E. B., &  Whembolua, G-L. (2007).  Integration of salivary biomarkers into developmental and behaviorally-oriented research:  Problems and solutions for collecting specimens. Physiology and Behavior, 92, 583-590.

Granger, D. A., Blair, C., Willoughby, M., Kivlighan, K. T., Hibel., L. C., Fortunato, C., Wiegand, L. E.,  & Family Life Project Investigators. (2007).  Individual differences in salivary cortisol and alpha-amylase in mothers and their infants: Relation to tobacco smoke exposure. Developmental Psychobiology, 49, 692-701.

Granger, D. A., Cicchetti, D., Rogosch, F., Hibel, L. C., Teisl, M., & Flores, E. (2007). Blood contamination in children’s saliva: Prevalence, stability, and impact on the measurement of salivary cortisol, testosterone, and dehydroepiandrosterone. Psychoneuroendocrinology, 32, 724-733.

Harmon, A., Hibel, L. C., Rumyantseva, O., & Granger, D. A., (2007). Measuring salivary cortisol in studies of child development: Watch out - what goes in may not come out of commonly used saliva collection devices. Developmental Psychobiology, 49, 495-500.

Hibel, L. C., Granger, D. A., Cicchetti, D., & Rogosch, F. (2007).  Salivary biomarker levels and diurnal variation: associations with medications prescribed to control children’s problem behavior. Child Development, 78, 927-937.

Hibel, L. C., Granger, D. A., Kivlighan, K. T., Blair, C., & the Family Life Project Investigators. (2006). Individual differences in salivary cortisol: Associations with common over-the-counter and prescription medication status in infants and their mothers. Hormones and Behavior, 50, 293-30.