Headshot of Karen Bierman

Karen Bierman

Director, Child Study Center; Evan Pugh Professor, Psychology and HDFS

251 Moore
814-865-3879
kb2@psu.edu

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Biography & Projects

Karen Bierman has been working in prevention science for 35 years, with a special interest in conducting research pertaining to social and emotional learning, coordinated school-based family programs, early childhood to elementary transition, and technology-assisted intervention strategies. Karen focuses on the design and evaluation of school-based and family focused programs that promote social-emotional learning and reduce aggression and related behavioral problems. She is particularly interested in the potential of prevention programming to reduce social disparities in education attainment and mental health. Karen was principal investigator for Fast Track and REDI, two longitudinal studies that addressed these issues.

Karen is Evan Pugh University Professor and a fellow for the Association of Psychological Science Senior Scientist in 2016, and she received the Service to SPR, Society for Prevention Research in 2017, Mentor Award, Missouri Prevention Center in 2015 and the Prevention Science Award, Society for Prevention Research in 2013. Additionally, she has authored 194 peer-reviewed journal articles and chapters that have appeared in publications such as Child Development, Journal of Developmental Psychology, and Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry. In 2004, Karen published a book, Peer rejection: Developmental process and intervention strategies. Most recently, she published the book, Social and emotional skills training for children: The Fast Track Friendship Group Manual with her Fast Track colleagues.

In the future, Karen hopes to work with ongoing studies in the area of school readiness, linking school-based with family-focused prevention supports, and integrating multi-tiered social-emotional learning programs into school systems. She received her Ph.D. in Clinical Child Psychology at the University of Denver.

Karen, who is also the Director of the Child Study Center at Penn State, appreciates the PRC’s vibrant intellectual community focused on promoting prevention science and its outstanding interdisciplinary opportunities for partnerships.  When Karen isn’t conducting research, you might find her on a roller coaster or thrill ride.

For more information about Dr. Bierman, click here.

Current Projects

Recent Publications

Promoting resilience: A preschool intervention enhances the adolescent adjustment of children exposed to early adversity

Sanders, M., Welsh, J.A., Bierman, K.L., & Heinrichs, B. (in press). Promoting resilience: A preschool intervention enhances the adolescent adjustment of children exposed to early adversity. School Psychology.

Multi-tiered social-emotional learning: PATHS and friendship group in the Fast Track Program

Bierman, K. L., Greenberg, M. T., & The Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group (2020). Multi-tiered social-emotional learning: PATHS and friendship group in the Fast Track Program. In T. W. Farmer, M. Conroy, E. M. Z., Farmer, & Sutherland (Co-editors). Handbook of research on emotional & behavioral disorders: Interdisciplinary developmental perspectives on children and youth (pp. 254-260). Routledge: London.

Parental support of self-regulation among children at risk for externalizing symptoms: Developmental trajectories of physiological regulation and behavioral adjustment

Zhang, Z, Gatzke-Kopp, L., Fosco, G., & Bierman, K. (2020). Parental support of self-regulation among children at risk for externalizing symptoms: Developmental trajectories of physiological regulation and behavioral adjustment. Developmental Psychology, 56, 528-540.

Sustained effects of a school readiness intervention: Fifth grade outcomes of the Head Start REDI program

Welsh, J.A., Bierman, K.L., Nix, R.L., Heinrichs, B., & Gest, S.D. (2020). Sustained effects of a school readiness intervention: Fifth grade outcomes of the Head Start REDI program. Early Childhood Research Quarterly, 53, 151-160.

Important issues in estimating costs of early childhood educational interventions: An example from the REDI program

Jones, D.E., Bierman, K., Crowley, D.M., Welsh, J., & Gest, J. (2019). Important issues in estimating costs of early childhood educational interventions: An example from the REDI program. Child and Family Services Review, 207, 104498.

How a preschool parent intervention produced later benefits: A longitudinal mediation analysis

Bierman, K.L., McDoniel, M., & Loughlin-Presnal, J. (2019). How a preschool parent intervention produced later benefits: A longitudinal mediation analysis. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 64,101058.

Effect of preschool home visiting on school readiness and need for services in elementary school: A randomized clinical trial

Bierman, K.L., Welsh, J.A., Heinrichs, B.S., & Nix, R.L. (2018). Effect of preschool home visiting on school readiness and need for services in elementary school: A randomized clinical trial. JAMA Pediatrics, 172(8), e181029.