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Sudha Sankar, PhD, LMFT

Assistant Professor

Relationship Education and Resilience Specialist

4101 Beryl Road, 240Q


Dr. Sudha Sankar is a licensed family therapist (LMFT) and human development and systems professional with expertise in leading the design, development, and evaluation of programs in health, mental health, and community agency settings. Dr. Sankar’s research focuses translation of family science and research into effective community education to address pressing health, mental health and relational health challenges. She has a specific interest in understanding and leveraging culturally innate relational assets and mechanisms of resilience to develop more sustainable interventions and thereby bridge cultural, gender, racial, and age-related disparities in wellbeing.

Dr. Sankar received her PhD in Human Development and Family Studies from Michigan State University with a specialization in Marriage and Family Therapy. She has previously set up served as the Coordinator for the Interpersonal Conflict and Violence Initiative housed in the Couple and Family Therapy Clinic and as an evaluation specialist for the Research Consortium of Gender Based Violence at Michigan State University. She uses she/her and them/they pronouns.

Programs and Initiatives

  • Promoting mental health and wellbeing of school age youth.
  • Adopting family-based strategies for extension programs.
  • Promoting mental health among extension professionals. 
  • Intergenerational programs to promote wellbeing across the lifespan.

Primary Teaching Responsibilities

  • AEHS 585: Professional Ethics and Family Policy
  • AEHS 525: Family Relationships Over the Life Course
  • AEHS 578: Scientific Inquiry in Agricultural and Extension Education (Rotation)

Contributing Websites

Professional Honors/Offices/Recognitions

Selected Publication

  • Johnson, D. J., Thelamour, B., Sankar, S., & Dimitrova, R. (2021). Reframing the Narrative. Roma Minority Youth Across Cultural Contexts: Taking a Positive Approach to Research, Policy, and Practice, 109.
  • Sankar, S., McCauley, H. L., Johnson, D. J., & Thelamour, B.  (2019). Gender & Sexual Prejudice and Subsequent Development of Dating Violence: Intersectionality among Youth.  In H. E. Fitzgerald, D. J. Johnson, D. B. Qin, F. Villarruel, & J. Norton (Eds).  Handbook on Children and Prejudice: Integrating research, practice and policy. Springer Press.
  • Sankar, S., Monta, N., Nichols, E., Carolan, M. & Escobar-Chew A.R. (2019). Addressing Couple Violence in Therapy Training Clinics: A Human-Centered Approach to Systems Intervention Design. Journal of Couple and Relationship Therapy, 1-23.
  • Stauch, T. A., Plavnick, J. B., Sankar, S., & Gallagher, A. C. (2018). Teaching social perception skills to adolescents with autism and intellectual disabilities using video‐based group instruction. Journal of Applied Behavior Analysis. 
  • Gorman, L. A., Huebner, A. J., Hirschfeld, M. K., Sankar, S., Blow, A. J., Guty, D. Kees., M. & Ketner, J. S (2016). A Comparative Case Study of Risk, Resiliency, and Coping Among Injured National Guard. Military Medicine, 181, 5:70.


BS Psychology University of Madras

PGDip Psychology James Cook University

MS Psychology Pittsburg State University

PhD Human Development and Family Studies Michigan State University

Area(s) of Expertise

  • Mental Health and Wellbeing
  • Culturally Centered Research and Practice
  • Family-Based and Relational Interventions
  • Evidence-Based Practices and Interventions
  • Assessment and diversion protocols
  • Research methods
  • Healthy Relationship and Sexual Development
  • Family and Sexual Violence