Alcohol Prevention in College is Focus of Upcoming Pattishall Lecture

January 25, 2010

Dr. Robert Turrisi, professor of biobehavioral health in Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development, will present the 2010 Pattishall Research Lecture. His lecture, “High-Risk Student Drinking Prevention: Bridging the gap between scientific research on student drinking and prevention programming on college campuses,” will be given at 4:00 p.m., Tuesday, February 16, 2010, in the Bennett Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building. The event, sponsored by the College of Health and Human Development, is free and open to the public.

image of Pattishall poster

Turrisi will present “High-Risk Student Drinking Prevention” at 4:00 p.m., Tuesday, February 16, in the Bennett Pierce Living Center, 110 Henderson Building.

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Turrisi is committed to reducing risky behaviors in adolescents and teens. His research on skin cancer and alcohol abuse prevention has not only fostered increased communication within families, but it has produced a dataset that can serve as the evidential backbone of prevention programs.

By informing parents about the risks of alcohol abuse, Turrisi’s prevention programs have been effective at lowering alcohol abuse in teens. His success in this vein gained the attention of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), which adapted one of Turrisi’s parent-training handbooks he uses in his prevention programs for a campaign that began in 2009.

His skin cancer prevention research used a similar approach, increasing parents’ knowledge and asking them to communicate this knowledge to their children. This approach, which proved to be highly effective, targeted skin cancer that resulted from both the sun and tanning salons.

In addition to expanding the reach of his alcohol- and skin cancer–related prevention programs, Turrisi is currently tackling steroid and other performance enhancer knowledge and abuse in college students.

Turrisi has authored hundreds of articles and co-authored several books on topics that range from statistical analysis to the role of parenting in preventing risky behavior in children. He received a B.A. in psychology from Rhode Island University in 1983 and a Ph.D. in social psychology from the University at Albany – the State University of New York in 1988, and he has been a Penn State faculty member since 2004.

The Pattishall Research Lecture is delivered each year by the most recent recipient of the Evan G. and Helen G. Pattishall Outstanding Research Achievement Award, which honors a senior faculty member who has made outstanding research contributions to the field across a major portion of his or her career. The award was established by the late Evan Pattishall, who served as dean of the former College of Human Development, and his wife Helen.