NCFR Olson Grant Announces 2021 Recipients

SAINT PAUL, MINNESOTA The National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) and David H. Olson, Ph.D., are proud to recognize Ronald Cox Jr., Ph.D., Isaac Washburn, Ph.D., and Darcey deSouza Ph.D., as the 2021 recipients of the NCFR Olson Grant: Bridging Research, Theory, and Practice. Now in its second year, this $10,000 annual grant is available to NCFR members working to creatively contribute to the discipline of Family Science by effectively uniting research, theory, and practice in their work.

Dr. Cox and his colleagues will present findings of the intervention at the 2022 NCFR Annual Conference, to be held Nov. 16-19, 2022, in Minneapolis, Minnesota.

David H. Olson, Ph.D., the namesake of the grant, is renowned for his many contributions to Family Science as a scholar, teacher, therapist, and professional. He is an NCFR Fellow, professor emeritus at the University of Minnesota, and creator of the highly respected Circumplex Model of Couples and Families, which enables researchers and practitioners to examine a couple's relationship through the couple’s flexibility, cohesion, and communication skills. Dr. Olson also established the PREPARE/ENRICH program, used around the world for premarital education and marriage counseling.

Cox Washburn and deSouza
From left: Cox, Washburn, and deSouza

The recipients’ grant proposal, “Shared Language Erosion: Investigating Communication as a Mechanism in the Circumplex Model of Family Systems in Immigrant Families.” Research shows that immigrant children’s English proficiency advances rapidly while their parents show only modest gains. Less recognized is that immigrant children also fail to develop or lose much of their heritage language. The researchers hypothesize that the loss of a shared common language impacts family communication, a core component of Olson’s Circumplex model, and may lead to negative youth outcomes. This project will sample first- and second-generation mother-child dyads using several methods and theories. Specifically, Dr. Olson’s FACES IV Family Assessment will be used to measure family cohesion, flexibility, communication, and satisfaction.

In their decision, the selection committee praised the recipients for their innovative proposal, noting that it “nicely wove theory, research, and practice.” The committee went on to note that they believe the project will ultimately be successful “in the very important work of strengthening families.”

Learn more about the grant, eligibility criteria, and application process and requirements at

About the Recipients


Ronald B. Cox, Jr., Ph.D., is the George Kaiser Family Foundation endowed chair in child and family resilience at Oklahoma State University, where he also serves as professor in Human Development and Family Science and Extension specialist. His research focuses on examining social determinants of risk and resilience in Latino adolescents and translating these into family-based prevention interventions. Dr. Cox’s research has been funded primarily by the National Institutes of Health (NIDA, NIGMS), the National Institute of Food and Agriculture (CYFAR program), and the U.S. Department of Justice (OJJDP). He is also the Director of the recently established Center for Immigrant Health and Education at Oklahoma State University.

Isaac J. Washburn, Ph.D., is an associate professor/research methodologist in the Department of Human Development and Family Science at Oklahoma State University. In addition to regularly teaching classes in advanced statistical modeling and methods, Dr. Washburn has been working on federally funded grants for over fifteen years and serves as part of a biostatistics group for the federally funded Center for Integrative Research on Childhood Adversity. His personal research looks at family and social predictors of adolescent risky behaviors, evaluating possible prevention strategies, and is working with NCFR to present a series of webinars on the foundations of quantitative methods.

Darcey K. deSouza Ph.D., is a postdoctoral research fellow at Oklahoma State University. Dr. deSouza studies a range of topics that engage with questions concerning children’s communication practices in everyday family life. In her personal research she analyzes video-recordings of in-person and mediated family interactions. Recent publications examine communication practices such as child-initiated and parent-solicited updating, the provision of social support, and the expression of gratitude. 


The National Council on Family Relations is the premier professional association for the multidisciplinary understanding of families. NCFR has a membership of nearly 3,000 family researchers, practitioners, and educators. For more information on the National Council on Family Relations or its scholarly publications, visit the NCFR website at