Dr. Scharp primarily researches difficult family transitions and the ways families cope with the major disruptions to their lives. The research she conducts on distressing family transitions manifests in a variety of contexts such as parent-child estrangement, (foster) adoption, undergraduate student parents, and disability diagnoses such as hearing loss. She is also expressly interested in the ways family members resist being marginalized through related processes such as identity (re)construction, social support-seeking, information/uncertainty management, and meaning-making. Her research on communication in family contexts has garnered attention from outlets such as the New York Times, NPR, PBS, U.S News & World Report, the Washington Post, and the Wall Street Journal. She also writes her own blog about interpersonal and family relationships for Psychology Today (https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/interpersonal-and-family-relationships)
Dr. Scharp is a Director of the Family Communication and Relationships Lab that is housed both at the University of Washington and Michigan State University.