Susan McHale Wins National Council on Family Relations' Ernest Burgess Award

December 3, 2010

The National Council on Family Relations (NCFR) has conferred its organization’s Ernest Burgess Award to Dr. Susan McHale of Penn State. McHale has dedicated her career, for the past thirty years, to the study of children’s and adolescents’ family relationships, roles, and activities. She has an exemplary record of scholarship, mentoring, and service to the field of family studies, including over 150 publications and over twenty-five years of funded research and mentorship of undergraduate and graduate students. Her work is unique in its attention to the role of siblings in children’s and adolescents’ lives.

An important and consistent theme in McHale’s work has been the study of multiple family members’ perceptions and experiences and understanding similarities and differences within families. Perhaps the most significant contribution McHale has made to the field of family research is careful attention to the role of gender dynamics in family life. In all of her work over the past twenty years, McHale has sought to understand how gendered roles, relationships, and activities contribute to parents’ marriage relationships, parent-child relationships, larger family systems (e.g., differential treatment of brothers and sisters by mothers and fathers), and sibling relationships and to parents’ and children’s well-being and development.

Following the completion of her Ph.D. from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 1979, McHale became an assistant professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at Penn State. Today, she is a full professor in the department and serves as the director of the Social Science Research Institute and the Children, Youth, and Families Consortium at Penn State.

The purpose of the Burgess Award is to recognize a distinguished career in the field of family research and scholarship. The award is given in memory of Ernest W. Burgess, University of Chicago, an NCFR co-founder and fourth president. Dr. Burgess was a pioneer in his contributions to marriage and family research in America.

The National Council on Relations is the nation’s premier professional association for the multidisciplinary understanding of families. NCFR has a membership of over 3,400 family researchers, practitioners, and educators. For more information on the National Council on Family Relations or its scholarly publications, contact NCFR at 1-888-781-9331 or visit


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