Robert NixAudrey Rothermel-Bascom Professor

My research focuses on the development and rigorous evaluation of prevention programs to promote adaptive social-emotional functioning and prevent the development of 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 understand better how they effectuate change. Such knowledge is critical to enhancing the quality of future prevention programs and improving the lives of the most vulnerable members of our society.

Promoting Self-Regulation Skills and Healthy Eating Habits in Early Head Start

In this five-year grant, funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, my colleagues and I are working with Early Head Start programs in Pennsylvania and Wisconsin to improve (1) parents’ sensitive scaffolding of toddlers’ learning, (2) toddlers’ self-regulation skills, such as waiting patiently, and (3) healthy eating habits. The ultimate goal of this prevention program is to enhance school readiness and physical health among children living in poverty.

Head Start REDI (REsearch-based, Developmentally-Informed)

In this grant, funded by the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, my colleagues and I sought to improve the efficacy of Head Start by integrating emergent literacy and social-emotional learning curricula during the pre-kindergarten year. The children are now in high school, and we are investigating whether early intervention had a lasting impact on academic success and interpersonal well-being.

Family Living Programs, University of Wisconsin-Extension

In my role as an Integrated Extension Specialist, I work with University of Wisconsin-Extension Educators to assist diverse and underserved children, families, and communities across the state. I help to (1) identify evidence-based interventions to fill service gaps, (2) refine and improve the quality of current programming, (3) enhance the caliber of evaluations, and (4) create new interventions and test their effectiveness.

Classes Taught

  • Course number: : Course title: Evidence-Based Prevention and Intervention Programs
  • Course number: : Course title: Program Evaluation
  • Course number: : Course title: Research Methods


  • Human Development & Family Studies

Degree Program

  • BS Human Development & Family Studies
  • PhD Human Ecology: Human Development and Family Studies


  • Integrated Specialist in Diverse and Underserved Children, Families, and Communities


Office: 4138 Nancy Nicholas Hall

Phone: 608-890-3283