Robert NixAudrey Rothermel Bascom Professor | Professor of Human Development & Family Studieshe/him/his

My research focuses on the development, implementation, and rigorous evaluation of prevention programs to promote adaptive cognitive and social-emotional functioning and reduce the likelihood of developing problems among children living in poverty. All of these programs are implemented in community settings. I have a special interest in prevention programs for preschool-aged children and their parents and have conducted several studies on the long-term impact of early services.

Much of my research has focused on peering into the “black box” of prevention programs to better understand how they effectuate change. Such knowledge is critical to enhancing the quality of future prevention programs so we can best serve the families we work with.

For example, over the last several years, my graduate students, other colleagues, and I have created and tested the efficacy of a prevention program, Recipe 4 Success, to improve the quality of home visits with families living in poverty. Two randomized clinical trials, implemented in seven cities and rural areas across two states, have demonstrated how Recipe 4 Success improves aspects of parents’ sensitive scaffolding and positive food parenting practices, as well as aspects of toddlers’ self-regulation and healthy eating habits. We have shown how these improvements are the result of improvements in the home visit curriculum and how the improvements are sustained long after the end of the prevention program.

In my role as an integrated specialist with the Division of Extension, I work with community-based educators to deliver a wide range of high-quality, evidence-based parenting programs to families across the state of Wisconsin. These programs are designed to enhance parents’ abilities to nurture positive parent-child relationships as a means of supporting children’s optimal development and well-being.

Selected Publications

Nix, R. L., Gill, S., Hostetler, M. L., Feinberg, M. E., Francis, L. A., Stifter, C. A., McNeil, C. B., Kidder, S.*, Jones, D. E., Park, Y. R.*, Kim, C. N.*, Engbretson, A. M.*, Braaten, S. M.*, & Tamkin, V. L. (In press). Promoting toddlers’ self-regulation and healthy eating habits among families living in poverty: A randomized controlled trial of Recipe 4 Success. Child Development.

Engbretson, A. M.*, Nix, R. L., Park, Y. P.*, Gill, S., & Hostetler, M. L. (2023). Elaboration of parents’ schemas of their children: Unique relations to sensitivity and learning support among families living in poverty. Journal of Family Psychology, 37(3), 318-323.

Kim, C. N.*, Nix, R. L., Gill, S., & Hostetler, M. L. (2023). Heterogeneous effects of depression on parenting competence and child behavior among families living in poverty. Prevention Science, 24(1), 1-14.

Park, Y. P.*, Nix, R. L., Gill, S., & Hostetler, M. L. (2022). What kind of parenting is associated with early self-control among toddlers living in poverty? The importance of learning support. Developmental Psychology, 58(3), 425-437.

Nix, R. L., Francis, L. A., Feinberg, M. E., Gill, S., Jones, D. E., Hostetler, M. L., & Stifter, C. A. (2021). Improving toddlers’ healthy eating habits and self-regulation: A randomized controlled trial. Pediatrics, 147(1), e20193326.

(*Indicates graduate student co-author)

For a full list of publications, see Nix’s CV.

A man smiling, wearing glasses, a blue collared shirt and a blue sweater.


  • Human Development & Family Studies

Degree Program

  • PhD Human Ecology: Human Development & Family Studies



  • PhD, Child Clinical Psychology, Vanderbilt University
  • BA, Philosophy, Wesleyan University


Office: 4138 Nancy Nicholas Hall

Phone: 608-890-3283