Maria D. LaRusso, EdD

Research Associate, Graduate School of Education, Harvard University (Affiliate)

Project Director, Strategic Education Research Partnership

Research Overview

I am a developmental psychologist and educational researcher with a focus on the social and emotional development and risk behavior of pre-adolescents and adolescents, the importance of school climate for children’s development and school experiences, the experimental evaluation of health risk prevention and literacy programs, and the integration of quantitative and qualitative methods. I have lead and collaborated on several large scale RCTs of school-based interventions and longitudinal studies of child and adolescent development and behavior. Past projects include: a universal school-based intervention designed to prevent violence and support social-emotional development in middle childhood and early adolescence (with (Lawrence Aber, Stephanie Jones, and Joshua Brown) and a multi-city, longitudinal study of early adolescents’ perspective taking skills, complex reasoning skills, proficiency with academic language, and literacy (in collaboration with Catherine Snow, Suzanne Donovan, Robert Selman, Stephanie Jones, James Kim, Paola Uccelli, Lowry Hemphill, and Catherine O’Connor). This project also includes two randomized trials of school-based programs that aim to build these developmental capacities by engaging students in classroom discussions and debates on current, controversial issues that are meaningful to adolescents (e.g., bullying, teen smoking, social media). Dr. LaRusso is interested in collaborating on risk and risk prevention research focused on children and adolescents in both school and family settings.


B. S., 1993, Human Development and Family Studies, Cornell University
M.Ed., 1994, Human Development and Psychology, Harvard University
Ed.D., 2004, Human Development and Psychology, Harvard University

Recent Publications

Contact Information
Mailing AddressGraduate School of Education
Harvard University
Larsen Hall 313A
14 Appian Way
Cambridge, MA 02138