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Adolescent development faculty in Human Development and Family Studies pursue programs of research that span this developmental period, from the transition into adolescence through emerging adulthood. Their work cuts across all areas of the department, including family relationships, prevention, and methodology, and utilizes a range of methods, including surveys, diaries, interviews, and observations.

Examples of current research projects include: community-based violence prevention in adolescents; heavy alcohol use among college students; gender, ethnicity, and sexual behavior among college students; links between parenting practice and adolescent dieting and eating problems; the development of sexual orientation; and family relationships and adolescent gender socialization.

  • Sunhye (Sunny) Bai: Researches daily family processes that shape adolescent development, with a focus on family-based risk and protective factors for youth internalizing problems.
  • Mayra Bamaca-Colbert: Adolescent development and adjustment among ethnic minority youth, with an emphasis on Latino adolescents living in the U.S.
  • H. Harrington (Bo) Cleveland: Interaction of genetic and environmental influences on adolescent and young adult risk-behaviors, including alcohol and tobacco use, aggression, and delinquency; contribution of traits to the selection and modification of social contexts.
  • Christian Connell: Effects of maltreatment, trauma, and other adverse experiences on adolescent behavioral health outcomes; effects of services, supports, and system involvement on behavioral health outcomes; social-ecological and contextual influences on adolescent wellbeing; development of risky behaviors in adolescence.
  • Diana Fishbein: I am particularly interested in adolescence given the substantial plasticity of the brain during this period and the potential for intervention to act on malleable mechanisms to improve outcomes.
  • Gregory M. Fosco: My work, and that of my graduate students, also focuses on long-term developmental questions related to family influences on adolescent psychological adjustment, subjective well-being, and social development (peer relationships, romantic relationships) from early adolescence into early adulthood.
  • Charles F. Geier: Adolescent neurodevelopment of reward and cognitive control; decision-making and risk-taking; short and long term consequences of cigarette smoking; habitual behaviors; functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI).
  • Jennifer L. Maggs: Adolescent social development and health; transition to adulthood; risk behaviors; prevention science; research methods; alcohol expectancies.
  • Susan M. McHale: Family relationships and family roles (particularly gender roles) in childhood and adolescence; differential socialization of siblings.
  • Jennie Noll: Bio-psycho-social consequences of childhood sexual abuse; pathways to teen pregnancy and high-risk sexual behaviors for abused and neglected youth; the long-term adverse health outcomes for victims of sexual abuse, and the propensity for abused and neglected teens to engage in high-risk internet and social media behaviors.
  • Chad Shenk: Dr. Shenk’s basic science research examines methods of risk estimation and target identification for a variety of health outcomes in children and adolescents exposed to maltreatment. This work is identifying risk mechanisms for multiple forms of psychopathology using a multiple levels of analysis approach including biological, behavioral, affective, cognitive, and parenting processes.
  • Samantha Tornello: Sexual and gender minority parents; pathways to parenthood; couple dynamics and family functioning; division of labor; children's development, and stigma and discrimination.