Welcome to the Biobehavioral Development Lab at Purdue!

The BDL is a research laboratory in the Human Development and Family Studies department at Purdue University dedicated to understanding the normal variations in how children develop in order to gain insight for predicting and preventing adolescent substance use and related behavior and relationship problems. Our primary mission is to conduct high-quality research that will generate knowledge and provide information to support clinicians and prevention and interventionists who directly improve the lives of adolescents and their families. We are also committed to educating the public and training the next generation of interdisciplinary scientists who will help integrate biology, developmental psychology, and family science.

More specifically, we are interested in understanding how genetics, hormones, and prenatal and postnatal environments contribute to the development of child behavior and family relationships. Adolescent substance use is widespread, and some youth who engage in substance use are at high risk for continued use, addiction, and mental health problems throughout the lifespan. We conduct a wide variety of research in the Biobehavioral Development Lab, which will lead to better targets for efforts seeking to prevent substance use problems and improve child behavior and family relationships. 

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Current projects focus on:

  • Identifying genes related to cortisol (a stress hormone) and puberty, and discovering new ways of combining genetic information from multiple genes into biologically-informed and meaningful scores (polygenic scores)
  • Investigating the links between stress- and puberty-related hormones, genetic and environmental influences, and behavior problems and substance use
  • Understanding the role of prenatal environment in how these stress- and puberty-related hormone systems develop and work together with genetic and environment influences for behavioral and relationship development

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