Duane E Thomas

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Assistant Professor, Division of Applied Psychology & Human Development, Graduate School of Education
Associate, The Firearm & Injury Center at Penn (FICAP)
Co-Investigator, Philadelphia Collaborative Violence Prevention Center- The Children's Hospital of Philadelphia

Contact information
University of Pennsylvania
Graduate School of Education
Applied Psychology & Human Development Division
3700 Walnut Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
Office: (215) 573-2978
B.S. (Psychology)
Virginia Polytechnic and State University , 1996.
M.S. (Clinical Psychology)
Pennsylvania State University , 1999.
Ph.D. (Clinical Psychology)
Pennsylvania State University , 2003.
Post-Graduate Training
Predoctoral Fellowship, Leadership Education in Neurodevelopmental Disabilities Program , The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 2003-.
Clinical Internship, Department of Psychology, The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, 2003-.
Postdoctoral Fellowship, , W. K. Kellogg Community Health Scholars Program, Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2004-.
Postdoctoral Fellowship, W. K. Kellogg Community Health Scholars Program, Health Policy and Management, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, 2005-.
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Description of Research Expertise

Areas of Expertise

At-risk children and youth
Academic-community partnerships
Clinical and educational psychology
Violence prevention

Professional Biography

Dr. Thomas serves as one of the core faculty in the Applied Psychology and Human Development Division of the Graduate School of Education at the University of Pennsylvania. He has a diverse professional background that includes providing a range of applied psychological services for children, youth, and families from diverse backgrounds and participating in large-scale community-based violence prevention research. Dr. Thomas joined Penn GSE in the fall of 2005 and, since this time, has garnered secondary faculty appointments with the Masters of Public Health Program and Center for Africana Studies. His courses address topics such as ethics and professional development, psychopathology, and multicultural issues in counseling and applied psychology.

Although trained as a general scientist-practitioner, Dr. Thomas has been developing specialization in several research areas: understanding the role of classrooms in the early social and emotional development of children, the identification of risk and protective factors for urban African-American children and youth in schools, partnership-based research methodologies, and school violence prevention. His interest in these areas was engendered, in part, through his doctoral training at Penn State University, where he worked as a research assistant for the Children, Youth and Families Consortium and the Fast Track Program, a multi-site program for the prevention of conduct disorders. Dr. Thomas’ work has also been informed through his former efforts with the Johns Hopkins Center for Early Intervention and Prevention and the Hopkins-Morgan Center for Health Disparities Solutions, as part of a two-year postdoctoral fellowship sponsored by the W.K. Kellogg Foundation at the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. As part of this training experience, Dr. Thomas partnered with local schools, community agencies, and not-for-profit community-based organizations to develop preventive-interventions for children and youth in East Baltimore at risk for academic failure, delinquency, and serious antisocial behavior.

Dr. Thomas served as a Co-Primary Investigator with the Philadelphia Collaborative Violence Prevention Center, an initiative funded through a cooperative agreement with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to build sustainable and mutually beneficial collaborations between academic-based scientists and community members to enhance resiliency and reduce the frequency and impact of youth violence, injury, and death. He remains involved with the Centerpiece Research Project committee, which is charged with using principles of community-based participatory research methodology to develop and test the impact of a multi-stage violence prevention program for youth ages 10-14. His other work has involved investigating the effects of cultural socialization and emotional reactivity on the behavioral adjustment among African American children in schools and after-school settings and developing a reliable and valid assessment tool to assess cultural-based disparities and inequities in teacher expectations and practices in secondary-school classrooms that are linked theoretically to externalizing behaviors, disciplinary problems and concomitant academic failure among underrepresented and marginalized student groups.

Research Interests and Current Projects

Dr. Thomas’ primary research interest is in the identification of school contextual risk factors for the development of conduct problems for children and youth in schools, as well as the development of school and community-based prevention efforts to preempt this onset. Specifically, his research has focused on elucidating classroom effects, particularly peer and teacher processes, on the emergence and maintenance of serious aggressive behavior problems and consequent academic difficulties for children and youth. His current projects involve investigating the effects of racial socialization and emotional reactivity on the classroom behavioral adjustment among African American youth and utilizing this information to inform the development of interventions, using partnership-based methodology, in schools and community recreation programs to prevent youth violence. His current work also involves the development and validation of a classroom social justice measure that is designed to assess students’ perceptions of disparities in teacher classroom practices based on differences in the race/ethnicity, gender and/or academic ability of pupils.

Description of Other Expertise
Dr. Thomas has a diverse professional background that includes the delivery of a range of psychological services to and applied research on children, youth, and families, especially those from underrepresented communities. His work entails specialization in the following areas: community-based participatory research; classroom social dynamics impacting the socioemotional development of children; risk and protective factors for urban African-American children and youth in schools; and school violence prevention.

Selected Publications

Stevenson, H. C., Harrell, S. P., Coard, S. I., Thomas, D., Bentley, K., & Davis, G. : Validating the influences of perceived racism and racial socialization experiences on adolescent psychological symptoms. Special Issue of the Journal of Social Issues (in press).

Thomas, D. E., Bierman, K. L., Powers, C. J., & the Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group: The impact of peer aggression and classroom climate on the development of aggressive behavior problems. Child Development (in press).

Thomas, D. E., Woodburn, E., Thompson, C, & Leff, S.: Contemporary interventions to reduce & prevent community violence. Handbook of African American Health: Social and Behavioral Interventions. A. J. Lemelle, W. Reed, & S. Taylor (Eds.) (eds.). (in press).

Leff, S., Thomas, D. E., Shapiro, E., Wilson, K., Paskewich, B. & Necowitz, E.: Developing and validating a new classroom climate observation system. Journal of School Violence (in press).

Leff, S., Thomas, D. E., Vaughn, N., Thomas, N., & Fein, J.: The development of a multi-component partnership-based violence prevention program for urban African American children and youth. Progress in Community Health Partnerships: Research, Education, and Action. (in press).

Thomas, D. E., Coard, S., Stevenson, H., Bentley, K., & Zamel, P. : Race and emotional factors predicting teacher observations of behavioral adjustment in African American males. Psychology in the Schools 46(2): 184-196, 2009.

Thomas, D. E., & Stevenson, H.: Gender risks and education: The particular classroom challenges for urban, low-income African American boys. Review of Research in Education: Special Issue on Risk, Schooling, and Equity 33: 160-180, 2009.

Thomas, D. E., Bierman, K. L., Thompson, C., & the Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group: Double jeopardy: Child and school characteristics that undermine school readiness and predict aggressive-disruptive behavior at school entry. School Psychology Review: Special Topic on Promoting Social Justice 37(4): 516-532, 2008.

Thomas, D. E., Bierman, K. L., & the Conduct Problems Prevention Research Group : Development & Psychopathology. The impact of classroom aggression on the development of aggressive behavior problems in children. Development and Psychopathology 18(2): 471-487, 2006.

LaVeist, T., & Thomas, D. : Mental health. Minority populations & health: An introduction to health disparities in the United States. T. A. LaVeist (eds.). San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass, Page: 83-107, 2005.

Thomas, D. E., Townsend, T. G., & Belgrave, F. Z. : The influence of cultural and racial identification on the psychosocial adjustment of inner city African-American children in school. The American Journal of Community Psychology 32(3/4): 217-228, 2003.

Coard, S. I., Stevenson, H. C., Thomas, D. E., Bentley. K (). . : Validation of the daily life experiences of racism stress scale for Black adolescents. Cultural Diversity and Ethnic Minority Journal under review.

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Last updated: 07/27/2010
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