Kelly Rulison, Ph.D.,

Kelly Rulison, Ph.D.,

Senior Research Scientist

Dr. Rulison’s research focuses on substance use and related risk behaviors among adolescents and young adults, with a particular interest in developing, optimizing, and evaluating behavioral interventions. Prior to joining Prevention Strategies, Dr. Rulison earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from the University of Rochester, followed by a Masters in Applied Statistics and an MS and PhD in Human Development & Family Studies from Penn State University. She was formerly an associate professor in Public Health Education and a quantitative methodologist for the School of Health and Human Sciences at UNC Greensboro. Most recently, Dr. Rulison was an associate professor at Penn State and an affiliate of the Consortium for Substance Use and Abuse.
Dr. Rulison enjoys traveling, hiking, and spending time with her husband, Mike, and their three children, Michael, Emmy, and Thomas.


  • Rulison, K.L., Chahl, A., & Hoeben, E.M. (In press). The role of parenting in shaping the friendship context of adolescent substance use. In M.E. Feinberg & D.W. Osgood (Eds), Teen Friendship Networks, Development, and Risky Behavior. New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Rulison, K.L. & Feinberg, M.E. (In press). Peer networks and the diffusion of intervention outcomes. In M.E. Feinberg & D.W. Osgood (Eds), Teen Friendship Networks, Development, and Risky Behavior. New York: Oxford University Press.

  • Rulison, K.L., Wyrick, D.L., & Milroy, J. (2022). A randomized iterative approach to optimizing an online substance use intervention for collegiate athletes. Translational Behavioral Medicine: Practice, Policy, & Research, 12(1). doi: 10.1093/tbm/ibab119

  • Hansen, W. B., & Rulison, K.L. (2022). Social network methods for assigning students to teams. Prevention Science. doi: 10.1007/s11121-022-01402-3

  • Wyman, P.A., Rulison, K.L., Pisani, A.R., Alvaro, E.M., Crano, W.D., Schmeelk-Cone, K., Keller Elliot, C., Wortzel, J., Pickering, T.A., Espelage, D.L. (2021). Above the Influence of Vaping: Peer leader influence and diffusion of a network-informed preventive intervention. Addictive Behaviors. doi: 10.1016/j.addbeh.2020.106693

  • Tanner, A.E., Guastaferro, K., Rulison, K.L., Wyrick, D.L., Milroy, J., Bhandari, S., Thorpe, S., Ware, S., Miller, A.E., & Collins, L. (2021). A hybrid evaluation-optimization trial to evaluate an intervention targeting the intersection of alcohol and sex in college students and simultaneously test an additional component aimed at preventing sexual violence. Annals of Behavioral Medicine, 55(12), 1184-1187, doi: 10.1093/abm/kaab003

  • Wyman, P., Pickering, T., Pisani, A., Rulison, K.L., Schmeelk-Cone, K., Hartley, C., Gould, M.S., Caine, E., Brown, C.H., & Valente, T. (2019). Peer-adult network structure and suicide attempts in 38 high schools: Implications for network informed suicide prevention. Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, 60(1), 1065-1075. doi: 10.1111/jcpp.13102

  • Rulison, K. L., Gest, S. D., Feinberg, M., & Osgood, D. W. (2018). Impact of school-based prevention programs on friendship networks and the diffusion of substance use and delinquency. In D.F. Alwin, D.H. Felmlee, & D.A. Kreager (Eds.), Social Networks and the Life Course: Integrating the Development of Human Lives and Social Relational Networks (453-475). Cham, Switzerland: Springer. doi:

  • Massengale, K. E. C., Ma, A., Rulison, K. L., Milroy, J. & Wyrick, D. (2017). Perceived norms and alcohol use among first-year college student-athletes’ different types of friends. Journal of American College Health, 65, 32-40. doi: 10.1080/07448481.2016.1233557 Rulison, K. L., Wahesh, E., Wyrick, D. L., DeJong, W. (2016). Parental influence on drinking behaviors at the transition to college: The mediating role of perceived friends’ approval of high-risk drinking. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 77, 638-648. doi:

  • Rulison, K. L., Feinberg, M., Gest, S. D., & Osgood, D. W. (2015). Diffusion of intervention effects: The impact of a family-based substance use prevention program on friends of participants. Journal of Adolescent Health, 57, 433-440. doi:

  • Rulison, K. L., Patrick, M. E., & Maggs, J. (2015). Linking peer relationships to substance use across adolescence. In R. Zucker & S. Brown (Eds.), The Oxford Handbook of Adolescent Substance Abuse. Oxford University Press. doi: 10.1093/oxfordhb/9780199735662.013.019 Rulison, K. L., Gest, S. D., & Osgood, D. W. (2015). Adolescent peer networks and the potential for the diffusion of intervention effects. Prevention Science, 16, 133-144. doi: 10.1007/s11121-014-0465-3

  • Wyrick, D.L., Rulison, K. L., Fearnow-Kenney, M., Milroy, J.J., & Collins, L. (2014). Moving beyond the treatment package approach to developing behavioral interventions: Addressing questions that arose during an application of the Multiphase Optimization Strategy (MOST). Translational Behavioral Medicine: Practice, Policy and Research, 4, 252-259. doi: 10.1007/s13142-013-0247-7

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