Peer Relations Pre-Conference

  • Half-Day Pre-Conference
  • 1:00 - 6:00 PM
  • $35.00

The SRA Peer Relations Pre-Conference has taken place at biennial SRA meetings for at least the last several decades. This pre-conference brings together scholars who study adolescent peer relationships from diverse disciplines, career stages, and locations to share the latest advances in peer relations research and to chart an agenda for future work. The pre-conference focuses on timely topics in adolescents’ peer relationships, including social status, aggression and victimization, friendships, online peer relations, peer networks, school contexts, identity, and diversity.

The goals for the 2024 pre-conference are to provide opportunities for participants to connect and reconnect with colleagues, friends, and other researchers doing similar work from around the world; to learn something new about peer relations research by discussing current topics and future directions; to get inspired for their own research agenda; to advance their professional development, especially for early career scholars; and to strengthen the community of peer relations researchers through conversations and sharing of ideas. As described below, the topics that will be highlighted and the structure of the sessions are built on the 2024 SRA conference theme of “Today’s Innovations, Tomorrow’s Insights.”

Pre-Conference Programming

Today’s Innovations Panels

Inspired by the 2024 SRA Conference theme, pre-conference research panels will be centered around contemporary issues facing adolescents from diverse backgrounds and innovative conceptual and methodological approaches for studying adolescents in a rapidly changing context. Panels will include 3-4 experts from different career stages to discuss their research and engage in discussion with audience members. The first research panel session will focus on peer relations among youth with marginalized identities, and the second research panel session will focus on technological advances in peer relations research


Nathalie Hoekstra, MSc is a PhD candidate in the Behavioural Science Institute at Radboud University in the Netherlands. She was trained as an elementary school teacher, completed her bachelor’s and master’s in educational sciences, and is now in the final stages of her PhD in developmental psychology. Her work focuses on the broader topic of teachers’ impact on classroom social dynamics and her research interests include classroom seating arrangements, teacher attunement, teacher- student interactions and relationships, bullying and victimization, students’ social standing in the classroom, and student academic achievement and engagement. Nathalie is a researcher with a
heart for teachers and students and she aims for her research to directly to support educational practice.



Rachel C. Garthe, PhD, is an Associate Professor at the School of Social Work at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She also directs the Violence Prevention Research Lab and is the Undergraduate Research Program Coordinator. Dr. Garthe obtained her PhD in Developmental Psychology from Virginia Commonwealth University and was a postdoctoral research scientist at the Chicago Center for Youth Violence Prevention at the University of Chicago Crown Family School of Social Work, Policy, and Practice. Dr. Garthe’s research examines the etiology, consequences, and prevention of youth violence. In particular, she examines factors that promote healthy youth development among individuals who have been historically marginalized, including racial and ethnic minority youth, and gender minority youth. Through this research, she focuses on guiding violence prevention efforts. Dr. Garthe has led and contributed to numerous research projects examining the development, implementation, and evaluation of school, family, and community-based violence prevention programs. Dr. Garthe is also the principal investigator on statewide violence prevention planning grant, which directly informs state funding, policies, and programming. To read more about Dr. Garthe’s research, please visit:

David Schwartz, Ph.D. joined the USC psychology faculty in 1997. Before coming to USC, he served as Program Coordinator of a UN-funded psychosocial intervention program in Mostar, Bosnia. This program was designed to provide mental health services to children affected by the civil war in the former Yugoslavia. Dr. Schwartz’s current research interests focus on children’s peer relationships and on the link between early social maladjustment and later disorder. His initial investigations were concerned primarily with bully/victim problems in school peer groups, and he has published a number of articles focusing on chronically bullied children. Dr. Schwartz has also been involved in research on social rejection, popularity, friendship, and cultural influences on children’s interactions with peers.



Yijie Wang, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor at Michigan State University. She received her undergraduate degree in Psychology at Peking University in China, earned her PhD in Human Development and Family Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin. She then completed two postdoctoral trainings at UT Austin and Fordham University, respectively. Her research on ethnic/racial discrimination, socialization, and minoritized youth development has been published in journals including Child Development, Developmental Psychology, and Journal of Adolescent Health. Dr. Wang has received early career awards from the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Association for Psychological Science (APS). Dr. Wang’s research has been funded by NIH and Williams T. Grant Foundation.




Annie Maheux, Ph.D. is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and the Winston Family Distinguished Fellow at the Winston National Center on Technology Use, Brain, and Psychological Development. Annie's research addresses sociocultural influences on adolescent development, with an emphasis on technology use, gender, and sexuality. 




Dr. Kelly M. Tu is an Associate Professor in the Department of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Her research is focused on understanding variability in youth adjustment in the face of stressors, such as peer stress and academic challenges. She investigates family and bio-physiological processes towards identifying factors that can promote youth well-being, such as parents’ role in the development of youth coping and the interplay between parenting and youth psychophysiology. Her work aims to inform broader efforts to promote positive youth development and well-being.

Tomorrow’s Insights Panel

In the Tomorrow's Insights panel, the future of the peer relations field is central. Three pairs of senior researchers will talk about what they hope we are talking about at the pre-conference in 2034. Each duo will focus on a different aspect of peer relations research, including friendships, peer groups and status, and developmental (e.g., school) contexts. These plenary conversations will set the stage for breakout groups to allow attendees to discuss more in-depth future research directions in smaller groups.


Jaana Juvonen, Ph.D. is a Professor in the Developmental Psychology area at UCLA. She studies teens’ relationships with their peers, and how these relationships are shaped by environmental (e.g., school contextual, online) factors. One central goal of her work is to understand various types of person-group interactions. She is particularly interested in the effects of student composition (e.g., homogeneity vs. different forms of diversity) on social norms, peer relationships, and social-emotional wellbeing. Guided by a social-contextual perspective, she conceptualizes schools and classrooms as ecological niches that shape peer relationships and wellbeing. Much of her research pertains to bullying and victimization. She has examined both the motives predicting bullying perpetration (dominance) and the social-cognitive mechanisms (self-blame) underlying the emotional plight of the targets of bullying. She also conducts research on peer groups norms and how they are related to adolescent behavior. Her current collaborative research examines the effects of school ethnic diversity on friendship formation, social identity development, prejudice, mental health, and academic success across middle and high school.


Adrienne Nishina, Ph.D. is Professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the University of California, Davis. Her research focuses on adolescent peer relationships and ethnicity within broader social contexts. Specifically, she studies the individual and contextual factors under which peer victimization predicts greater psychosocial, physical, and academic maladjustment. She also examines the interplay between ethnic diversity in peer groups--primarily in school or friendship settings--and adolescent functioning.



Joseph P. Allen, Ph.D. is the Hugh P. Kelly Professor of Psychology at the University of Virginia. He received a B.A. in psychology from the University of Virginia in May 1980, and then a Ph.D. in Clinical/Community Psychology from Yale University in May 1986. He subsequently worked as a post-doctoral fellow in research at Harvard Medical School from 1986 until 1988. Allen's research focuses on adolescent social development, family relations, peer relations, and problematic behaviors (ranging from delinquency and teen pregnancy to depression and anxiety). He has published over 200 articles and book chapters, and is the author of several books. Allen is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the Society for Research in Adolescence. He has received numerous awards for his research, including the William T. Grant Faculty Scholar Award, and the Spencer Foundation Fellowship. Allen is a passionate advocate for the use of research to improve the lives of adolescents. He is a strong believer in the power of relationships to promote healthy development, and his research has helped to shed light on the importance of supportive family and peer relationships for adolescents. He is also a strong advocate for prevention programs that can help to reduce the risk of problematic behaviors in adolescence.

William M. Bukowski, Ph.D. is a developmental psychologist in the Department of Psychology of Concordia University and a member of the Centre de recherche en développement humain. His research program examines contextual variations in the features and effect of school-age children's experiences with their peers. He is the founding principal of Concordia's Loyola College for the Study of Diversity and Sustainability.


Antonius H. N. (Toon) Cillessen (Ph.D., Radboud University, 1991) is Professor and Chair of Developmental Psychology in the Behavioural Science Institute at Radboud University in Nijmegen, The Netherlands. He previously held appointments at Duke University and the University of Connecticut. His research interests include peer relations in childhood and adolescence, social behavior, peer influence, and quantitative methods for developmental research (sociometry, social networks, longitudinal data analysis). He is a Consulting Editor for Child Development, International Journal of Behavioral Development, Journal of Research on Adolescence, Merrill-Palmer Quarterly, and Social Development. He is the co-editor of Popularity in the Peer System (2011, Guilford Press).


Mitch Prinstein, Ph.D., ABPP is the Chief Science Officer of the American Psychological Association, and at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill he serves as the John Van Seters Distinguished Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, and the Co-Director of the Winston National Center on Technology Use, Brain, and Psychological Development.For over 25 years, and with continuous funding from the National Institutes of Health, Mitch’s research has examined interpersonal models of internalizing symptoms and health risk behaviors among adolescents, with a specific focus on the unique role of off- and on-line peer relationships in the developmental psychopathology of depression and self-injury. He is a board-certified clinical psychologist and has published over 200 scientific manuscripts and 12 books. At APA, Mitch is responsible for leading the association’s science agenda and advocating for the application of psychological research and knowledge in settings including academia, government, industry, and the law.


Early Career Poster Session

To help early career attendees connect with their peers and more senior researchers, the pre-conference will include an early career poster session. During the poster session, graduate students and postdoctoral researchers are invited to present on their peer relations research. If you are interested in presenting a poster, proposal submission instructions will be sent via email from the pre-conference organizers in the coming weeks.


In the past year, two prominent peer relations researchers, Thomas Kindermann and Willard (Bill) Hartup, passed away. In the memorial session, two former collaborators will share more about their lives, accomplishments, and their impact on the peer relations community.

Thomas Kindermann (1954-2023) Willard (Bill) Hartup (1927-2023)

Thomas Farmer, Ph.D. works at the intersection of educational psychology, developmental science, and special education to help teachers create classroom contexts that are responsive to the individual learning needs of diverse students and the multiple contexts in which they live and grow. This line of inquiry has four related aims: (1) establishing a professional development and research-practice partnership structure to create real time data driven strategies to help teachers adapt supports for individual students; (2) assessing, adapting, and monitoring classroom ecological factors that contribute to or constrain students’ school adjustment; (3) using natural peer group processes and classroom social dynamics to support students’ engagement and success in the classroom; and (4) creating analytic approaches and data use approaches to foster teachers’ expertise to adapt complementary academic, behavioral, emotional, and social interventions to support the whole student in developmental context. Dr. Farmer will be honoring Dr. Kindermann.


Brett Laursen, Ph.D. is Professor of Psychology at Florida Atlantic University and Docent Professor of Educational Psychology at the University of Helsinki. He is also a Research Scientist at the TrygFondens Centre for Child Research at Aarhus University, Denmark. Professor Laursen received his Ph.D. in Child Psychology from the Institute of Child Development at the University of Minnesota and an Honorary Doctorate from Örebro University, Sweden. He is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association (Divisions 7 and 8), the Association for Psychological Science, and the International Society for the Study of Behavioural Development. Professor Laursen’s research concerns influence within and outcomes associated with parent-child and peer relationships. A related focus is on quantitative developmental methodology. In addition to his own work conducted at various locations across the United States, he is currently involved in longitudinal projects in Canada, Denmark, Finland, and Lithuania. Professor Laursen is the Editor (most recently) of the Handbook of Developmental Research Methods (with Todd D. Little and Noel A. Card) and the Handbook of Peer Interactions, Relationships, and Groups (with Kenneth H. Rubin and William M. Bukowski). He also serves as the Editor of Cambridge Elements in Research Methods for Developmental Science and is the past Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Behavioral Development. Dr. Laursen will be honoring Dr. Hartup.


Buhrmester Award

During the Buhrmester Award session, an award will be presented to prominent peer relations researchers who have had a large impact on the field. These awards are presented in honor and memory of Duane Buhrmester.