- Evan Pugh University Professor
- Director, Child Study Center
- Professor of Psychology and Human Development and Family Studies
- School Readiness Initiative Director
Karen Bierman is an Evan Pugh University Professor and Director of the Child Study Center at The Pennsylvania State University. Her 40 year research career has focused on social-emotional development and children at risk, with an emphasis on the design and evaluation of school-based programs that promote social competence, school readiness, positive peer relations, and that reduce aggression and related behavior problems. She has directed several longitudinal studies evaluating the long-term impact of early school-based and family-focused preventive interventions designed to reduce aggression (Fast Track) and enhance school success (Head Start REDI). She has also developed and evaluated small-group social skill training interventions for peer-rejected children (Friendship Group). Bierman has received funding for prevention and school readiness promotion from the National Institutes of Health, the Institute of Educational Sciences, the National Science Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the W.T. Grant Foundation, the W. K. Kellogg Foundation, and the Pennsylvania Department of Health. She is a fellow of the American Psychological Society, the American Psychological Association, and the Society for Prevention Research. She has published eight books and contributed to three published intervention manuals, and authored over 230 articles and chapters, and has served as an educational advisor to a number of organizations devoted to improving early education for disadvantaged children, including Head Start and Sesame Street.
- Associate Research Professor of Psychology
- Associate Director, Child Study Center
Dr. Laureen Teti has researched children’s emotion regulation and its relation to parent-child interactions in a variety of high-risk families, including children prenatally exposed to cocaine and Black adolescent mothers living in a low-income urban community. She worked in 2006 with a small group of Penn State faculty to promote relations between communities of color in Harrisburg and child clinical and developmental researchers at the Child Study Center, which resulted in the establishment in 2007 of Parents And Children Together (PACT), a community-university partnership which includes representatives from early childhood agencies, parents, and other key leaders from communities of color in Harrisburg, PA. Laureen served on PACT’s Administrative team, and as an Associate Director, from 2007 to 2020. In her role as the CSC’s Associate Director, she facilitates initiative activities and events, works closely with the Director on strategic planning, annual reports and budget management, and organizes the CSC’s Speaker Series.
- Program Manager and Grants Specialist, Child Study Center
Robin Kephart joined the Child Study Center as our Program Manager and Grants Specialist in January 2023 after having over 30 years of experience in the College of the Liberal Arts. In her role as Program Manager and Grants Specialist, Robin works with CSC faculty on both pre- and post-award budgets and helps with the development of grant applications and work plans. She also manages the CSC Training Institute, both its programs and its budget.
- Administrative Support Coordinator, Child Study Center
Nancy came to the CSC from the Penn State Executive Programs in September 2017. She is a Penn State alumna and has been employed by Penn State since 2002. As the CSC Administrative Support Coordinator, her responsibilities range from managing Center procedures and operations to supporting research and education needs for faculty, graduate students, and undergraduate students. She provides direct support to the Director and Associate Director, communicates and collaborates among campus units, and serves as liaison for visitors and guests at the Center.
- Research Data Management Specialist, Child Study Center
Jacqui graduated from the University of Florida with a Bachelor of Science degree in Psychology and has been working at the CSC since 2010. Her primary responsibilities are to manage the FIRSt Families database, act as website editor and content manager for the CSC and FIRSt Families websites, as well as manage the CSC’s social media accounts and informational monitor. She provides direct assistance to the Associate Director and works directly with the Graduate Research Assistant on specific projects.
- Project Specialist, Child Study Center
Jennifer Murray Connell is a Penn State alumna and joined the CSC in September 2017. Jenn earned her Masters of Social Work from the University of South Carolina and is a licensed clinical social worker. She has over 20 years of experience working with children and families around issues of mental health, family engagement, education, child welfare and juvenile justice. Prior to joining the CSC, she worked as a school social worker and the Coordinator of Social Work and School Counseling for Achievement First Connecticut and as Clinical Instructor of Social Work at the Yale Child Study Center. At the CSC, Jenn is the Project Manager for the Guided Play Program with Dr. Karen Bierman and is the Friendship Group Program Director. Additionally, Jenn provides clinical supervision and clinical and consultative services to children, youth, and adults at the Penn State Psychological Clinic. Jenn provides clinical supervision and serves as a member of the Center’s Trauma Informed Collaborative.
- Graduate Research Assistant, Child Study Center
Alexandra (Ali) Roule is a Child-Clinical Psychology doctoral student under the mentorship of Dr. Cynthia Huang-Pollock. She is interested in the neurocognitive mechanisms related to externalizing and internalizing disorders. Ali completed her undergraduate degree at Wellesley College, where she worked with Dr. Christen Deveney on projects examining irritability and its relationship to attention and emotion recognition. Prior to attending Penn State, she was an IRTA in the Section on Mood Dysregulation and Neuroscience at the National Institute of Mental Health, studying the treatment and neurocognitive mechanisms of pediatric irritability. As the CSC Graduate Research Assistant, Ali prepares for and takes notes during CSC faculty meetings, assists with the Speaker Series, maintains CSC-related databases, and writes articles for the CSC website.