Professor to lecture on prevention of high-risk student drinking

Robert Turrisi, professor of biobehavioral health in Penn State’s College of Health and Human Development, will present this year's Pattishall Research Lecture. His lecture, “High-Risk Student Drinking Prevention: Bridging the Gap Between Scientific Research on Student Drinking and Prevention Programming on College Campuses," will be given at 4 p.m. on Feb. 16, in the Bennett Pierce Living Center, room 110 of the Henderson Building on Penn State's University Park campus. The event, sponsored by the College of Health and Human Development, is free and open to the public.

Turrisi is committed to reducing risky behaviors in adolescents and teens. His research on skin cancer and alcohol abuse prevention has not only fostered increased communication within families, but it has produced 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. His success in this vein gained the attention of Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), which adapted one of Turrisi’s parent-training handbooks he uses in his prevention programs for a campaign that began in 2009.

His skin cancer prevention research used a similar approach, increasing parents’ knowledge and asking them to communicate this knowledge to their children. This approach, which proved to be highly effective, targeted skin cancer that resulted from both the sun and tanning salons.

In addition to expanding the reach of his alcohol- and skin cancer-related prevention programs, Turrisi is currently tackling steroid and other performance enhancer knowledge and abuse in college students.

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 of arts in psychology from Rhode Island University in 1983 and a doctorate in social psychology from the University at Albany -- the State University of New York in 1988, and he has been a Penn State faculty member since 2004.

The Pattishall Research Lecture is delivered each year by the most recent recipient of the Evan G. and Helen G. Pattishall Outstanding Research Achievement Award, which honors a senior faculty member who has made outstanding research contributions to the field across a major portion of his or her career. The award was established by the late Evan Pattishall, who served as dean of the former College of Human Development, and his wife Helen.

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Last Updated January 28, 2010