Maria D. LaRusso

Assistant Professor

* Dr. LaRusso is accepting graduate student applicants for the 2024-2025 academic year.


Educational Background:

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:

  • generational shifts in child and adolescent development and mental health
  • mindfulness and social justice interventions with youth
  • early adolescent development and school experiences
  • children’s rights to healthy development
  • impact of PANS/PANDAS and healthcare system failures on child development and family stress

Selected Professional Accomplishments/Projects:

2022  Fulbright Scholar Award, Pediatrics Department, School of Medicine, Universidad Nacional de Colombia, Bogotá, Colombia.

2008 American Association for University Women Postdoctoral Research Fellowship

2006 Fulbright Scholar Award, Psychology Department, Universidad de Los Andes, Bogotá, Colombia

2005-2006 American Psychological Association & Institute of Education Sciences Postdoctoral Education Research Training (PERT) fellowship, Department of Applied Psychology, New York University

2004-2005 American Psychological Association & Institute of Education Sciences Postdoctoral Education Research Training (PERT) fellowship, Positive Psychology Center, University of Pennsylvania

Selected Publications:

Tomkunas, A. J., Welliver, M., Wink, M. N., & LaRusso, M. D. (2023). Should schools “return to normal”? Mixed outcomes resulting from COVID-19 in schools. Psychology in the Schools, 60(11), 4618-4636. (Impact Factor: 2.0)

LaRusso, M. & Abadía-Barrero, C. (2022). Untimely care: How the modern logics of coverage and medicine compromise children’s health and development. Social Science & Medicine.

Dolce, J., LaRusso, M. D. & Abadía-Barrero, C. (2022). Disruptions and adaptations in family functioning: A study of families’ experiences with PANS/PANDAS. Journal of Child and Family Studies, 31, 790-806.

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.

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.

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. (2023). ¿Qué está pasando con la salud mental de los niños y adolescentes? Inequidades, industrias y medio ambiente/ What is happening with child and adolescent mental health? Inequalities, industries, and the environment. Invited Fulbright Talk at the School of Medicine, Universidad Nacional, Colombia.

LaRusso, M. D. (2023). Retos en el diagnóstico de los desórdenes mentales pediátricos: El caso de PANS/PANDAS/ Challenges in diagnosing pediatric mental health disorders: The case of PANS/PANDAS. Invited talk at the Pediatric Practice and Mental Health Seminar for Residents, Misercordia Children’s Hospital, Bogotá, Colombia.

LaRusso, M. D., Abadia-Barrero, C., Tomkunas, A. & Wink, M. (April 2023). Increasing Mental Health Problems in Adolescence: Examining multiple determinants from the perspectives of education and healthcare. Paper presented at the Annual Conference of the Society for Research on Adolescence, San Diego, CA.

LaRusso, M. D. & Abadia-Barrero, C. (2022). Confronting new understandings of children’s mental health: Families’ and physicians’ experiences. Paper presented at the 26th Biennial Meeting of the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development (ISSBD), Island of Rhodes, Greece.

Maria LaRusso
Contact Information
Mailing AddressFamily Studies Building, Storrs CT, 06279