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VCU Psychology Department

Can people have a "relationship" with the natural world?

Human behavior is at the root of the rapid pace of climate change. What leads people to perceive greater interdependence with the environment? How does their commitment to the environment predict pro-environmental behavior? read more...


What increases emergency visits in children with asthma?

How are family/culturally-based beliefs about asthma, caregiver quality of life, and emergency department use associated in pediatric asthma? read more...


Can we train students' brains to work more effectively?

Direct cognitive training in a school setting represents an important innovation for developing the underlying thinking skills needed for educational success. Can we make computers better "trainers"? read more...


Can you strengthen your character in six hours?

Religious and secular self-help experts have long helped people build character strengths. But can people achieve as much—or even more!—benefit by working through six-hour workbooks at home? read more...


Dr. Wendy Kliewer

Professor and Chair (tenured)

Developmental Psychology (primary), Social and Clinical Child/Adolescent Psychology (secondary)


PhD (1989), University of California, Irvine

Contact Information

Phone: 804-828-8089

Office: 806 W Franklin, rm 105


Web site: Dr. Kliewer's Prevention Research Lab

Research Interests

My research focuses on understanding stress and coping processes in children and adolescents. For the last decade I have focused on chronic stressors such as poverty and community violence. In particular, I am interested in the role of the family in mitigating, or alternatively enhancing, youths' risk for negative outcomes in the face of stressful life events and circumstances. I also have examined psychological, behavioral and physiological (e.g., blood pressure, epinephrine and norepinephrine, cortisol, immune functioning) responses to stressors. Currently, I lead two projects: Project CARE -- A study of risk and resilience in South African youth (located in Durban, South Africa) and Project HEART – Health and Resilience in Teens focused on low-income African American adolescents and their mothers in Richmond. Both studies examine associations between cumulative risk and physiological outcomes, as well as examining individual, familial, and environmental factors associated with resilience. Additionally, I am part of a community and family intervention team working to reduce youth violence in Richmond.

Selected Publications

Lepore, S. J., & Kliewer, W. (in press). Violence exposure, sleep disturbance, and poor academic performance in middle school. Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology.

Kliewer, W. (in press). The role of neighborhood collective efficacy and fear of crime in socialization of coping with violence in low-income communities. Journal of Community Psychology.

Kliewer, W., Goodman, K., & Reid-Quinones (2013). The urban family. In G. Creasy & P. Jarvis (Eds.), Adolescent development and school achievement in urban communities: Resilience in the neighborhood (pp. 91-102). New York, NY: Routledge, Taylor and Francis.

Taylor, K. A., Sullivan, T. S., & Kliewer, W. (2013). A longitudinal path analysis of peer victimization, threat appraisals to the self, and aggression, anxiety, and depression among urban African American adolescents. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42, 178-189.

Kliewer, W., Dibble, A. E., Goodman, K., & Sullivan, T.N. (2012). Physiological correlates of peer victimization and aggression in African American urban adolescents. Development and Psychopathology, 24, 637-650.

Recent Courses
Recent Grants

Project HEART:  Health and Resilience in Teens.  Co-Principal Investigator.  July, 2013 – December, 2014.  VCU, Presidental Research Quest Fund.  $50,000.

Virginia Commonwealth University – Center for Youth Violence Prevention. Co-Investigator (Principal Investigator, Farrell). September, 2010 – September, 2015. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 1U01CE001956-01, $6,500,000.

Violence, drug use, and AIDS in South African Youth: A US/South Africa Research Collaboration. Co-Investigator (Principal Investigator, Sanders-Phillips). April, 2011 – March, 2013. National Institutes of Health (NIH) R21DA030298-01, $341,438.

Mediators of Violence Exposure and Drug Use in Youth. Principal Investigator. September, 2007 – August, 2009. The National Institutes of Health, National Institute on Drug Abuse. R21 DA020086.

School-based expressive writing intervention trials for youth exposed to violence. Principal Investigator. June, 2008 – April, 2011. The National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health. R01 MH081166.