Maria D. LaRusso

Assistant Professor


Educational Background:  

Postdoctoral Fellowship, Awarded by the American Psychological Association and the Institute of Education Sciences, University of Pennsylvania and New York University

Ph.D., Human Development and Psychology, Harvard University

M.Ed., Human Development and Psychology, Harvard University

B.S., Human Development and Family Studies, Cornell University

 

Research Interests:

  • current trends in mental health and behavioral challenges among elementary and middle school students
  • ecological and integrative approaches to child/adolescent mental health and well-being
  • post-infectious autoimmune encephalitis and other physiological causes of psychiatric symptoms in youth
  • clinical and school-based interventions to support social and emotional development/well-being of children and adolescents
  • critical consciousness and social justice interventions with youth
  • social-emotional development and learning in schools
  • integration of quantitative and qualitative methods

Grants:

  • 2021 Principal Investigator “Addressing recent declines in children’s health and well-being: An integrative approach.” CLAS Funding.  $20,000.
  • 2021-2022 Principal Investigator “The ‘Mental Health Crisis’ of U.S. Students: Perspectives from elementary, middle and high school educators.” Scholarship Facilitation Fund of the Office of the Vice President for Research, UConn.
  • 2020-2021 Principal Investigator “Healthcare Providers’ Perspectives on PANS, Mental Health Symptoms, and Children’s Rights to a Healthy Development.”  HRI Grant for Faculty Research in Human Rights, UConn.
  • 2019-2020 Principal Investigator “Developmental and Treatment Challenges of the New Childhood Epidemics: Family Illness Journeys with Pediatric Acute-Onset Neuropsychiatric Syndrome (PANS).” Seed grant from the Center for the Study of Culture, Health, and Human Development. $7250.
  • 2018-2019Principal Investigator “Intervening with Behaviorally Challenging Students in Schools: A Pilot Study of Collaborative and Proactive Solutions.” Scholarship Facilitation Fund of the Office of the Vice President for Research, UConn.
  • 2010-2016: Co-Investigator (with Suzanne Donovan (PI) and Catherine Snow (PI) and Co-Investigators: Stephanie Jones, James Kim, Robert Selman, Kurt Fischer, Lowry Hemphill, Paola Uccelli, Jennifer Thomson, and Jonathan Osborne.  “Catalyzing Comprehension Through Discussion and Debate.”  Institute of Education Sciences.  $19,352,384.
  • 2009-2012: Principal Investigator (with Joshua L. Brown (Co-I) and Stephanie M. Jones (Co-I)).  “Early Adolescents’ Experiences of Continuity and Discontinuity of School Micro-contexts: Implications for Place-based Treatment Effects.”  William T. Grant Foundation.  $500,000.
  • 2007: Fulbright Scholar Award, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia.
  • 2008: Postdoctoral Research Leave Fellowship, Awarded by the American Association for University Women.
  • 2006-2009: Co-Investigator (with Joshua L. Brown (PI) and Stephanie M. Jones (PI)).  “Changing Classroom Climate and Other School Micro-Contexts to Promote Children’s Social-Emotional and Academic Development: The 4Rs Setting-Level Study.”  William T. Grant Foundation.  $524,340.

Selected Publications:

LaRusso, M. & Abadía-Barrero, C. (2021). “These doctors don’t believe in PANS”: Confronting Uncertainty and a Collapsing Model of Medical Care. Chapter 9, pp. 197-216. In Montesi, Laura and Calestani, Melania (Eds.) Managing Chronicity in Unequal States. Ethnographic perspectives on caring. University College of London Press, ISBN. 9781800080287.

Dolce, J., LaRusso, M. & Abadía-Barrero, C. (In press). Disruptions and Adaptations to Family Functioning: A Study of Families’ Experiences with PANS/PANDAS. Journal of Child and Family Studies.

Hsin, L., LaRusso, M., Miratrix, L., Kim, H. Y., & Snow, C. (In Press). Predictable Variation in the Implementation of a Curricular Intervention—and Why it Matters. The Elementary School Journal.

Wink, M., LaRusso, M. D., & Smith, R. (2021).Teacher Empathy and Students with Problem Behaviors: Examining Teacher’s Perceptions, Responses, Relationships, and Burnout. Psychology in the Schools.

Jones, S., LaRusso, M., Kim, J., Kim, H., Selman, R., Uccelli, P., Barnes, S., Donovan, & Snow, C. (2019). Experimental Effects of Word Generation on Vocabulary, Academic Language, Perspective Taking, and Reading Comprehension in High Poverty Schools. Journal for Research on Educational Effectiveness.

Kim, H. Y., LaRusso, M.D., Hsin, L., Harbaugh, G., Selman, R. L. & Snow, C. (2018) Social perspective-taking performance: Construct, measurement, and relations with academic performance and engagement. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 57 (2018), 24–41.

LaRusso, M., Donovan, S., & Snow, C. (in press), Implementation Challenges for Tier One and Tier Two School-based Programs for Early Adolescents, New Directions in Child and Adolescent Development.

LaRusso, M., Kim, H. Y., Selman, R., Uccelli, P., Dawson, T., Jones, S., Donovan, S., & Snow, C. (2016). Contributions of academic language, perspective taking, and complex reasoning to deep reading comprehension. Journal of Research on Educational Effectiveness, 9(2), 201-222.

LaRusso, M. D., & Selman, R. L. (2011). Early adolescent health risk behaviors, conflict resolution strategies, and school climate. Journal of Applied Developmental Psychology, 32 (6) 354–362.

Brown, J. L., Jones, S. M., LaRusso, M. D., & Aber, J. L. (2010). Improving classroom quality: Teacher influences and experimental impacts of the 4Rs Program, Journal of Educational Psychology, 102 (1), 153-167.

LaRusso, M. D., Brown, J. L., Jones, S. M., & Aber, J. L. (2009). School context and micro-contexts: The complexity of studying school settings. In L. M. Dinella (Ed.), Conducting psychology research in school-based settings:  A practical guide for researchers conducting high quality science within school environments.  Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

LaRusso, M. D., Romer, D., & Selman, R. L. (2008). Teachers as builders of respectful school climates:  Implications for adolescent drug use norms and depressive symptoms in high school. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 37 (4) (2008): 386–398.

 Abadía-Barrero, C. & LaRusso, M. D. (2006). The disclosure model versus a developmental illness experience model for children and adolescents living with HIV/AIDS: Findings from a study in São Paulo, Brazil. AIDS Patient Care and STDs, 20 (1), pp. 36-43.

Schultz, L. H., Selman, R. L., & LaRusso, M. D. (2004). The assessment of psychosocial maturity in children and adolescents: Implications for the evaluation of school-based character education programs. Journal of Research in Character Education, 1 (2), pp.67-87.   

LaRusso, M. D. & Selman, R. L. (2003). The influence of development and school climate on adolescents’ perceptions of risk and prevention: Cynicism and skepticism. In Romer, D. (Ed.) Reducing adolescent risk: Toward an integrated strategy. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

Selected presentations:

LaRusso, M. D. & Abadía-Barrero, C. (2021). Misdiagnosis of mental health disorders in children: Implications for development. Flash paper presented at the Biennial Meeting for the Society for Research on Child Development, virtual conference.

Tomkunas, A., Wink, M. & LaRusso, M. D. (2021). A mixed-methods analysis of elementary school teachers’ use of behavior management strategies across grade levels. Poster presented at the Biennial Meeting for the Society for Research on Child Development, virtual conference.

LaRusso, M. D. & Abadía-Barrero, C. (2020). New Childhood Epidemics and Children Rights to a Healthy Development. Invited Talk for the Lunchtime Seminar of the Human Rights Institute, Co-sponsored by the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and Center for the Study of Culture, Health, and Human Development, UConn.

LaRusso, M. D. (2019). The impact of school start times on adolescent mental health.  Invited presentation to the Connecticut State Legislature. Hartford, CT.

LaRusso, M. (2017, December). Promoting Youth Social and Emotional Development:​ School contexts and school-based interventions. Invited talk presented for the Colloquium Series of the Center for Center for the Study of Culture, Health, and Human Development, University of Connecticut.

LaRusso, M. D., Kim, H. K., Jones, S. M., Brown, J. L., & Aber, J. L (2016). Early adolescent life histories and school experiences from elementary through middle school. Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Baltimore, MD.

LaRusso, M. D., Kim, H. K., Selman, R., Jones, S. M., Donovan, S., & Snow, C.E. (2016). Developmentally supportive classrooms and social perspective taking in early adolescence. Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Adolescence, Baltimore, MD.

LaRusso, M., Jones, S., Kim, H.Y., Holland, S., Miratrix, L., Snow, C.E., Donovan, S. (2015). Variation in treatment effects: A focus on implementation. Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Child Development, Philadelphia, PA.

LaRusso, M. D., Jones, S. M., Brown, J. L., & Aber, J. L (2015). Understanding variation in the social climate of middle school micro-contexts: Implications for adolescent aggressive behaviors. Paper presented at the biennial meeting of the Society for Research on Child Development, Philadelphia, PA.

LaRusso, M. D. (2013). Social and emotional learning and the climate of classrooms and schools: Challenges and opportunities for intervention and evaluation. Invited talk, School of Education, University of California, Irvine.

LaRusso, M. D., Brown, J. L., Jones, S. M. & Raudenbush, S. (2011). Analyzing contextual variation within schools: The climate of middle school micro-contexts. Invited presentation at the William T. Grant Foundation Intervention Grantees Meeting, Washington, DC.

LaRusso, M. D., Brown, J. L., Jones, S. M., & Aber, J. L. (2009). Mixed method analyses in a social and emotional learning intervention study: The challenges and opportunities for addressing school micro-contexts. Paper presented at the Biennial Meeting for the Society for Research on Child Development, Denver, CO.

LaRusso, M. D. (2009). Integrating quantitative and qualitative methods to understand child and adolescent social development in context. Invited talk, Seminar Series, Institute of Human Development and Social Change, New York University, New York.

LaRusso, M. D. (2008). Experimental and quasi-experimental designs for outcome evaluations of civic education programs and policies: A case example. Invited talk for the Hemispheric Course on Evaluation of Policies and Programs in Education for Democratic Citizenship (of the Organization of the American States), Antigua Guatemala.

LaRusso, M. D., Brown, J. L., Jones, S. M., & Aber, J. L. (2008). Aggression and problem behavior in elementary schools in the United Sates: Links to school climate, relationships, and school responses to aggression. Poster presented at the Biennial Meeting for the International Society for Behavioral Development, Wuerzburg, Germany.

LaRusso, M. D. (2007). Social development, health risk behaviors, and conflict resolution in schools: Developmental and contextual perspectives. Poster presented at the Inter-American Collaboration Workshop of the International Society for Behavioral Development, Gramado, Brazil.

LaRusso, M. D. (2007). Mixed methods in the social sciences: Integrating quantitative and qualitative approaches to understanding children’s social development in context. Invited Fulbright talk, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia.

 LaRusso, M. D. (2006). Risk behavior, relationships, and adolescent cynicism: Developmental and contextual analyses. Paper presented at the Annual Convention for the American Psychological Association, New Orleans, LA.

LaRusso, M. D. (2006). Early adolescent social development, risk prevention, and the social context of school: Quantitative and qualitative analyses. Developmental Colloquium talk, Department of Applied Psychology, New York University.

Maria LaRusso
Contact Information
Emailmaria.larusso@uconn.edu
Mailing AddressFamily Studies Building, Storrs CT, 06279