Catherine Walker O'Neal

College of Family and Consumer Sciences

Human Development and Family Science

Assistant Professor


Degree Field of Study Institution Graduation
Ph.D. Child and Family Development The University of Georgia 2011
M.S. Human Development and Family Studies with an emphasis in Marriage and Family Therapy Auburn University 2008
B.S. Psychology The University of Georgia 2006


My passion is promoting family well-being through high-quality research. In particular, I am interested in the acute and chronic stressors families experience and how to enhance resilience when faced with stress. A few principles of my research include:

  1. Conducting translational research – I emphasize conducting research that answers the “So what question” (So what do we do because of these findings?). One avenue of my work that illustrates this emphasis is my family program evaluation efforts. These evaluation efforts point to what works well in family programming and promotes well-being while also pointing out what can be improved.
  2. Thinking broadly about family well-being – I take a “30,000 foot view” in understanding family well-being. My holistic focus leads me examine numerous factors linked to family well-being. In particular, my research has made contributions to understanding how finances/financial stress and broader contexts, such as military life, impact family well-being.
  3. Using advanced quantitative methods – I value the use of rigorous quantitative methods, such as dyadic data to capture multiple family members’ perspectives, latent profile analyses to identify heterogenous sub-groups, and latent growth curve models to understand change over time. However, I also stress the importance of using the methods that are best suited for the research question. Using complicated analyses when a simpler method best addresses the research question is akin to the “tail wagging the dog.”


  • Issues in Family Systems (HDFS 3920)
  • Advanced Family Theories (HDFS 8610)
  • Advanced Quantitative Methods


Award Name Awarded By Year Awarded
Early Career Faculty Research Award – Behavioral/Social Sciences College of Family and Consumer Sciences - The University of Georgia 2024
Finalist for the 2021 Barbara Thompson Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families Award Military Family Research Institute 2022
Best Family Financial Wellbeing Paper Award (co-author) Family Financial Wellbeing Focus Group of the NCFR 2022
Outstanding Professional Proposal Award (co-author) Military Families and Children Focus Group of the NCFR 2022
Outstanding Professional Proposal Award (co-author) Issues in Aging Focus Group of the NCFR 2020
Finalist for the 2018 Excellence in Research on Military and Veteran Families Award Military Family Research Institute 2019
Outstanding Professional Proposal Award (co-author) Military Families and Children Focus Group of the NCFR 2018

Areas of Expertise

  • Couple and family relationships
  • Family stress
  • Advanced quantitative analyses 
  • Lifespan development
  • Military and Veteran families
  • Program evaluation


Blaisure, K. R., Saathoff-Wells, T., Marini, C., O'Neal, C. W., Lucier-Greer, M., Wadsworth, S. M., & Combro, A. L. (2024). Serving Military Families (3rd ed.). Routledge.

Wickrama, K. A. S., Lee, T. K., O’Neal, C. W., & Lorenz, F. O. (2021). Higher-Order Growth Curves and Mixture Modeling with Mplus: A Practical Guide. (2nd ed.). Taylor and Francis.

Select book chapters

Lucier-Greer, M., & O’Neal, C. W. (2021). Family life education with military and veteran families. In S. M. Ballard & A. C. Taylor (Eds.), Family life education with diverse populations (2nd edition). Sage.

Wickrama, K. A. S., O’Neal, C. W., & Lee, T. K. (2020). Family socioeconomic context and mental health in parents and children: A heuristic framework (6th ed.). In K. R. Bush and C. A. Price (Eds.), Families and change: Coping with stressful events and transitions. Sage.

Current Research

My research and outreach efforts focused on military families currently include three funded projects:

  1. I am the principal investigator for the evaluation of the U. S. Department of the Air Force financial readiness program. We use quantitative and qualitative methods to conduct outcome and process evaluation. We assess program outcomes longitudinally and across multiple domains (including individual and family well-being). Findings are used to generate reports to funders as well as disseminate to the broader scientific community. ($2.7 million since 2019)
  2. I am the co-investigator for Military REACH, a DoD/USDA partnership project that synthesizes military family research to make it accessible and relevant for families, helping professionals, and policymakers. ($2.2 million since 2021)
  3. I am the principal investigator for a project with the USAA Educational Foundation and the DoD Office of Financial Readiness measuring the efficacy of military financial literacy interventions. ($600,000 to date)


Select recent publications (see my CV for a complete listing; total of 120)

O’Neal, C. W., Lavner, J., Lucier-Greer, M., Jenson, T. (March 2024). Mental health profiles of depressive symptoms and personal well-being among active-duty military families. Family Process.

O’Neal, C. W., Lucier-Greer, M., Peterson, C.*, & McKay, B. (2023). Translating discovery science: Delivering online, asynchronous financial education to service members at career and personal life transitions. Family Relations. Advance online copy.

Peterson, C. T.*, O’Neal, C. W., & Futris, T. G. (2022). Military couples’ childhood experiences and romantic relationship satisfaction: The role of accepting influence. Family Process, 61(2), 689-704.

O'Neal, C. W., & Wickrama, K. A. S., (2021). The contribution of stressful marital interactions to loneliness and health across mid-life and later adulthood. Journal of Family Issues, 42(3), 553-570.

O'Neal, C. W., & Mancini, J. (2021). Military families' stressful reintegration, family climate, and their adolescents' psychosocial health. Journal of Marriage and Family, 83(2), 375-393.

Interested in graduate studies?

View Graduate Programs

Jump to top