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Max Crowley
Max Crowley
Professor of Human Development and Family Studies, and Public Policy
Director of the Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center
Summary Statement

Max Crowley is a prevention scientist investigating how to optimize investments in healthy development—with a focus on preventive strategies to reduce substance misuse and delinquent behavior.

  • Human Development and Family Studies - HDFS
  • Research
  • Intervention and Prevention
  • Methodology
  • Graduate Program
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  • 2012, Ph.D., HDFS, Pennsylvania State University
  • 2010, M.S., HDFS, Pennsylvania State University
  • 2008, B.S., Psychology (Sociology minor), James Madison University, Harrisonburg, VA
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Currently Accepting Graduate Students
Office Address
302 Biobehavioral Health Building
  • Strengthening methods for economic evaluations of preventive interventions
  • Optimizing prevention strategies’ impact relative to cost
  • Developing best practices for translating these investments into evidence-based policy
  • Economic Evaluation (Cost-Effectiveness Analysis, Benefit-Cost Analysis, Budgetary Impact Analysis)
  •  Program Evaluation
  • Policy Analysis
  • Mixed Methods Studies
Grants and Research Projects

Max Crowley is a prevention scientist investigating how to optimize investments in healthy development and wellbeing. This work sits at the intersection of social policy, prevention science and public finance. His program of research is motivated by a desire to increase the use of cost-effective, evidence-based preventive strategies to improve the lives of children and families. To accomplish this, his work aims to (1) strengthen methods for benefit-cost analyses of preventive interventions, (2) optimize prevention strategies’ impact and (3) develop best practices for how to translate these investments into evidence-based policy. In this manner, Dr. Crowley seeks to not only understand the costs and benefits of prevention, but aim to develop better interventions and encourage them to be disseminated widely.

Dr. Crowley's research is funded by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, National Institute of Nursing Research, National Institute of Child Health & Human Development and National Institute on Aging as well as the Robert Wood Johnson, Laura & John Arnold, Annie E. Casey, Michael and Susan Dell and Doris Duke Charitable Foundations.

Evidence-to-Impact Collaborative

Dr. Crowley directs the Evidence-to-Impact Collaborative (EIC), a center of the Social Science Research Institute, focused on the “science of science.” The EIC supports the translation of scientific knowledge to public policy and budgets. The EIC houses three strategic infrastructures that partner with researchers from across the university to augment the impact of their work. These include the (1) Administrative Data Accelerator, (2) Benefit-Cost Analysis Unit and (3) Research-to-Policy Collaboration.

The Penn State University Administrative Data Accelerator, a partnership between the HHD Edna Bennett Pierce Prevention Research Center and SSRI Evidence-to-Impact Collaborative (EIC), facilitates use of national, state and county micro and aggregate administrative records related to health, criminal, education, housing, child welfare, personal finance, and employment data in health and social science research. The Data Accelerator’s infrastructure allows researchers to access, protect, link, and analyze key sensitive data in accordance with best practices and compliance requirements.

Benefit-Cost Analysis Unit

The EIC’s Benefit Cost Analysis Unit (BCAU) supports research on the costs, benefits and return-on-investment of social and health interventions. The BCAU provides infrastructure support to the NIH supported Prevention Economics Planning and Research Network that supports methods development, demonstration and dissemination. The BCAU provides partnership and consultation on programs, policies and practices in a wide array of settings. This includes opportunities for partnership for researchers at any stage of evaluation (e.g., grant writing, protocol development and analysis).

The PSU Research-to-Policy Collaboration (RPC) is a model to facilitate information exchanges between prevention researchers and policymakers. In an effort to build a more responsive science that supports the use of evidence in policymaking, the RPC engages in a number of activities including direct work with federal and state legislative bodies and government offices, rapid response to policymaker requests, ongoing consultation with legislative staff and various agencies. As part of this work, we are currently evaluating a model to build productive collaborations between researchers and legislative staff to inform the policymaking process and improve the translation of scientific evidence for creating evidence-based policies and budgets. 


Crowley, M., Dodge, K., Barnett, S. Corso, P., Duffy, S. Graham, P., Greenberg, M., Hill, L., Haskins, R., Jones, D., Karoly, L., Kuklinski, M., & Plotnick, R. (2018). Standards of evidence for conducting and reporting economic evaluations in prevention science. Prevention Science. 19(3):366-390. PMC5869868

Hunter, L*. Diperna, J., Hart, S. & Crowley, M. (2018). At what cost? Examining the cost effectiveness of a universal social-emotional learning program. School Psychology Quarterly. 33(1):147-154.

Crowley, M., Scott, T.,* & Fishbein, D. (2018). Translating prevention research for evidence-based policymaking:  Results from the Research-to-Policy Collaboration pilot. Prevention Science. 19(2):260-270  PMC5803346

Crowley, M., & Jones, D. E. (2017). Valuing our communities: Ethical considerations for economic evaluation of community-based prevention. American Journal of Community Psychology. PMC5729092

Crowley, M., & Scott, T.* (2017). Bringing Rigor to the Use of Evidence in Policy Making: Translating Early Evidence. Public Administration Review, 77(5), 650-655.

Crowley, M., Haskins, R., Howard, E., & Ness, D. (2017). Fostering healthier environments for children and families. In P. Alonzo (Ed.), Knowledge to action: Accelerating a culture of health. Oxford, UK: Oxford University Press.

Crowley, M., & Jones, D. (2017). A Model for Valuing Investments in a Nurturing Society: Implications for Prevention Research and Evidence-Based Policy. Child Clinical and Family Psychology Review. 20(1), 87-103. PMC5396060

Crowley, M., & Jones, D. (2016). Financing prevention: opportunities for economic analysis across the translational research cycle. Translational Behavioral Medicine, 6(1), 145–152. PMC4807188

Jones, D. E., Karoly, L. A., Crowley, M., & Greenberg, M. T. (2016). Considering valuation of noncognitive skills in benefit-cost analysis of programs for children. Journal of Benefit-Cost Analysis, 6(3), 471–507.

Crowley, M. & Green, L.* (2016). The economics of social capital: Considering the fiscal value of social networks. In A. Greenberg, T. Gullotta, & M. Bloom (Eds.), Promoting civic health of communities through social capital. New York: Springer Publishing.

Jones, D., Greenberg, M., & Crowley, M. (2015). Early social-emotional functioning and public health: The relationship between kindergarten social competence and future wellness. American. Journal of Public Health, 105(11), 2283–2290.

Crowley, M. (2014). The role of social impact bonds in pediatric care. Pediatrics, 134(2), 331–333

Crowley, M., Jones, D. E., Greenberg, M. T., Coffman, D., & Spoth, R. (2014). Can we build an efficient response to the prescription drug abuse epidemic? Assessing the cost-effectiveness of universal prevention. Preventive Medicine, 62, 71–77.