About the Prevention Research Center
The Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development (PRC) was established in 1997 with a focus on longitudinal, developmental research on risk. Research conducted in the Center examines how communities can work together with families, schools, community groups (social service, youth groups, the faith community), and industry to promote healthy lifestyles for children, youth, and families, and develops clinical trials of innovative models to promote competence and prevent maladaptive outcomes for children, families, and communities. The Center provides research seminars on prevention science for faculty and graduate students. The Center also supports Bennett Faculty Scholars, Graduate Prevention Fellows, and conferences.
Center faculty members conduct a diverse range of projects. These include basic longitudinal studies of risk and protective factors, randomized clinical trials, quasi-experimental studies, and program evaluations. As such, studies face a host of common methodological problems, including: (1) the modeling of longitudinal data, (2) effective and efficient strategies for handling missing data, (3) the use of multi-level models for understanding the role of communities, schools, and families, (4) studying prevention outcomes in light of developmental transitions in problem behaviors, and (5) utilizing person-oriented models of analysis.
Research and outreach endeavors are organized into several programmatic units. These include Emerging Adulthood; Family Science & Intervention; PEACE (Program on Empathy Awareness & Compassion in Education); School-based Prevention Research; Training; Dissemination & Implementation; and Administrative Services.
A report on the Prevention Research Center's first five years is available on the Publications page.
The Center's Ten-Year Report is available on the Publications page.
The Prevention Research Center has become the locus of research, technical assistance, and program development in prevention science in Pennsylvania. All of the activities described above continue today, but at a broader scale. The Center has offices and staff in State College/University Park, Harrisburg, and York. A total of 26 faculty members, 16 full-time Ph.D.-level research associates, and 5 postdoctoral fellows are currently associated with the Center.
Over its first fifteen years, Center associates have demonstrated their commitment to research, program development, and program evaluation by gaining grants and contracts from foundations, state and federal agencies, school districts, and many others. In 1998–1999, the Prevention Research Center received 7 grants totaling more than $700,000. Fifteen years later, in 2012–2013, the Center is administering and/or participating in 48 grants for a total of $14,470,000. This total includes co-shared grants with other colleges and centers at Penn State.
Mrs. Edna Bennett Pierce
A $5 million commitment to Penn State's College of Health and Human Development from alumna Edna Bennett Pierce supports a variety of University and College efforts aimed at improving the health and welfare of children and adolescents. Bennett Pierce directed $4 million of the total gift to an endowment for teaching, research and outreach programs involving children and adolescents. The endowment funds graduate and faculty fellowships, and provide other enhancements to the work of the Prevention Research Center.
A resident of Wilmington, Delaware, and a civic leader and philanthropist, Bennett Pierce is a member of the “Famous 500,” the first freshmen class of women admitted to Penn State following World War II. She earned her bachelor's degree in home economics with an emphasis in child development in 1953. C. Eugene Bennett, who died in 1996, began his doctoral studies in analytical chemistry at Penn State in 1951.
As a result of the generosity of the Bennett Endowment, the Center initiated a program of Graduate Prevention Fellowships and Bennett Prevention Scholars. These fellowships last for one academic year and are awarded on a competitive basis.
The Bennett Endowment also makes possible the annual Bennett Lecture in Prevention Science.