Robert Turrisi Receives Prevention Science Award

Robert Turrisi, professor of biobehavioral health at Penn State, has received the 2012 Prevention Science Award from the Society for Prevention Research. The award is given to an individual or team of individuals for producing a significant body of research that applies scientific methods to test one or more preventive interventions or policies. Turrisi will be presented with the award on May 31, 2012, at the society’s annual conference in Washington, D.C.

Turrisi—who is also a faculty member in the Penn State Prevention Research Center for the Promotion of Human Development and the Children, Youth and Families Consortium—is committed to reducing risky behaviors in adolescents, teens and college students. His research on skin cancer and alcohol abuse prevention has not only fostered increased communication within families, but also has provided a dataset that can serve as the evidential backbone of prevention programs.

By informing parents about the risks of alcohol abuse, Turrisi’s prevention programs have been effective at lowering alcohol abuse in teens. One of his parent-training handbooks currently is used in an adapted form by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD). Turrisi’s skin cancer prevention research aims to increase parents’ knowledge of the dangers of the sun and of tanning salons, and asks parents to communicate this knowledge to their children.

In addition to expanding the reach of his alcohol- and skin cancer-related prevention programs, Turrisi also is investigating college students’ knowledge of and abuse of steroids and other performance enhancers.

Turrisi has authored hundreds of articles and co-authored several books on topics that range from statistical analysis to the role of parenting in preventing risky behavior in children. He received a bachelor’s degree in psychology from Rhode Island University in 1983 and a Ph.D. degree in social psychology from the University at Albany—the State University of New York in 1988. He has been a member of the Penn State faculty since 2004.

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Editors: Robert Turrisi can be reached at rjt13@psu.edu or 814-865-7808. For additional information, please contact the College of Health and Human Development Office of College Relations at 814-865-3831 or healthhd@psu.edu.