The SNAP Project aims to understand the long-term impact of exposure to peer adversity on subsequent reactivity to social stress and consequent depression in adolescent girls. This study uses computer-based performance tasks and fMRI scans to examine how individual differences in girls’ personality and interpersonal experiences influence their neural and behavioral processing of social threat cues.

The goal of this project is to understand why some children have trouble developing positive relationships with their peers during the school years, and how problems with peers affect children's later well-being. In collaboration with several local school districts, we are examining how characteristics of children (such as their temperament and their coping style) shape their peer relationships and determine how they respond to bullying at school. We also are studying the role that parents play in teaching their children how to deal with bullying. We hope that this understanding will help psychologists, educators, and parents learn effective ways of creating a positive school climate and preventing some of the negative emotional effects of bullying. Over 600 children are being followed as they progress through elementary school. Children, their teachers, and their parents complete surveys each year. Children also participate in a half-day visit to the University of Illinois.

The aim of this project is to determine why some youth develop depression as they transition through adolescence, whereas other youth face this transition with few difficulties. In particular, we are trying to understand why adolescent girls are especially likely to show negative reactions to the physical, psychological, and social challenges of puberty. We are also studying how characteristics of youth (such as their self-views and coping style) and their families (such as family support or stress) might either increase children's likelihood of developing depression during the transition to puberty or might buffer them from emotional difficulties. Over 160 youth and their parents from Central Illinois participated in interviews at the University of Illinois over the course of four years.

The Pathways Project is focused on learning about the varied pathways that children follow as they advance through the elementary, junior high, and high school years, and face the transition to young adulthood. A major goal is to understand how these different paths lead children toward success or difficulty in school and in later life. This project began in 1992 and has followed more than 400 children, who now reside in over 20 states, through a variety of life transitions. Over the course of the project, information has been gathered from children, teachers, peers, and parents regarding characteristics of children, their families and peers, and the school setting that influence childrenÍs academic progress and emotional adjustment.