Kristin Buss headshot with gray turtleneck sweater
Published on: Apr 22, 2021

Kristin Buss, Tracy Winfree and Ted H. McCourtney Professor in Children, Work, and Families, Professor of Psychology; professor of human development and family studies; and head of the psychology department in Penn State’s College of the Liberal Arts; has been awarded Penn State's 2021 President’s Award for Excellence in Academic Integration.

The award is given to a full-time faculty member who has exhibited extraordinary achievement in the integration of teaching, research or creative accomplishment and service.

Buss is a developmental scientist whose research focuses on behavioral, biological and environmental factors associated with the development of childhood and teen anxiety symptoms. Her work spans multiple areas of research in the realm of social development, psychobiology and neuroscience. Her interest lies in the mechanisms of emotional development as they relate to temperament and anxiety development.

Her work is routinely funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and has resulted in the research group Parents and Children Together (PACT), which Buss founded and led until 2019 right before becoming department head.

PACT is an interdisciplinary group of researchers who work with the greater Harrisburg community to focus on mutually beneficial research endeavors. 

“PACT powerfully links Dr. Buss’ research on children and families with a recognition of the importance of community partners, respect for those partners, and giving value back to those linked communities that were vital to the research in the first place,” a nominator said. “The nature of Professor Buss’s work, and her community-focused orientation toward scholarly research, are especially salient at a moment at which experts are seeking to better understand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on multiple aspects of child development.”

Nominators praised Buss and her collaborators for ensuring that PACT enlists community involvement in the research. The group works to promote the health and well-being of children, youth and families from diverse backgrounds. The group does this by working with community members and organizations in the Harrisburg area. Nominators said the synergy and energy of the project is a result of Buss’ leadership and hard work.

“By working with the community, we are assured that we are not only addressing a problem that is important to those affected, but we are also developing an intervention that is endorsed by those who will eventually use it,” a nominator said.

Buss, who joined Penn State in 2006, is a co-funded faculty member of the Social Science Research Institute, which has facilitated her interdisciplinary scholarship and leadership. Her research has been featured in more than 90 publications.