Button to scroll to the top of the page.

Aprile D Benner

Associate Professor
Department of Human Development and Family Sciences


Phone: 512-232-1964

Office Location
SEA 2.442

Postal Address
AUSTIN, TX 78712

Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles (2007)
M.S., Purdue University (1999)
B.S., Vanderbilt University (1997)

Research Interests

Aprile Benner’s substantive research interests center on the development of low-income and race/ethnic minority youth, investigating how social contexts influence experiences of marginalization and discrimination, school transitions, and developmental outcomes during adolescence. As a developmental psychologist, the core of her research program is a fundamental developmental question—what are the continuities and changes in the social, emotional, and cognitive growth and maturation of young people? Reflecting her training in educational demography, she works to answer this question with an awareness of how such developmental patterns are embedded in the groups, contexts, and social structures of society. 

Specifically, her research falls into two primary streams: race/ethnicity and social class as developmental contexts and the influence of multiple and shifting ecological contexts in young people’s lives. Her studies have examined adolescents’ perceptions of discrimination, their experiences of numeric marginalization tied to both race/ethnicity and socioeconomic status, experiences of school transitions across the early life course, and how schools, families, and peers independently and conjointly influence young people’s well-being. Her current research focuses on  discrimination tied to race/ethnicity, social class, sexual minority status, and weight and linkages to disparities in mental and physical health and academic achievement. 

Aprile Benner is accepting graduate students to start in Fall 2020.


Current Grant Funding

Principal Investigator, Biopsychosocial Pathways Linking Discrimination and Adolescent Health. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (2017-2022).

Principal Investigator, Discrimination and Achievement Disparities in Adolescence. National Science Foundation (2016 - 2019).

Co-Investigator, IBSS: Identifying the Optimal Levels and Timing of Family and School Influences. National Science Foundation (2015 - 2020, PI: Elizabeth Gershoff).

Prior Grant Funding

Principal Investigator, Adolescents and the Social Contexts of American Schools. William T. Grant Scholars Program (2013 - 2018).

Principal Investigator, eRACE: Examining Race, Academics, Contexts, and Equality. William T. Grant Foundation (2015 - 2017).

Co-Investigator, Parent-child Processes Affecting Long-term Post-disaster Psychosocial Adjustment. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (R03HD077164, 2015 - 2017, PI: Erika Felix).

Principal Investigator, School Demographics, Marginalization, and Adolescent Substance Use. National Institute on Drug Abuse (R03DA032018, 2011-2014). 

Principal Investigator, Marginalization and Educational Performance during Adolescence. National Academy of Education & Spencer Foundation (2012 - 2013)

Principal Investigator, Selection into Pre-K-3. Foundation for Child Development (2010 - 2012)

Principal Investigator, The Transition to High School and Later School Dropout. The Spencer Foundation (2010 - 2011)

Principal Investigator, Race, School Transitions, and Child and Adolescent Well-being. National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (F32HD056732, 2008 - 2011)

Select Publications (* denotes undergraduate or graduate student or postdoctoral fellow)

Benner, A.D., *Hou, Y., & Jackson, K. (forthcoming). The consequences of friend-related stress across early adolescence. Journal of Early Adolescence.

Benner, A.D., Wang, Y., Shen, Y. Boyle, A.E., Polk, R. & Cheng, Y-P. (2018). Racial discrimination and well-being during adolescence: A meta-analytic review. American Psychologist73, 855-883.  

Benner, A.D. (2017). The consequences of racial/ethnic discrimination for adolescent adjustment. Child Development Perspectives11, 251-256.

Benner, A.D., *Boyle, A.E, & *Bakhtiari, F. (2017). Understanding students’ transition to high school: Demographic variation and the role of supportive relationships. Journal of Youth and Adolescence46, 2129-2142.

Benner, A.D. & *Wang, Y. (2017). Racial/ethnic discrimination and adolescents’ well-being: The role of cross-ethnic friendships and friends’ experiences of discrimination. Child Development, 88, 493-504.

Benner, A.D., *Boyle, A.E., & *Sadler, S. (2016). Parental involvement and adolescents’ educational success: The roles of prior achievement and socioeconomic status. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 45, 1053-1064.

Benner, A.D. & *Wang, Y. (2015). Adolescent substance use: The role of demographic marginalization and socioemotional distress. Developmental Psychology, 51, 1086-1097.

Benner, A.D., Crosnoe, R., & Eccles, J.S. (2015). Schools, peers, and prejudice in adolescence. Journal of Research on Adolescence, 25, 173-188.

Benner, A.D. & *Wang, Y. (2014). School attendance trajectories from middle to high school: Influences of school transitions and changing school contexts. Developmental Psychology, 50, 1288-1301.

Benner, A.D. & Graham, S. (2013). The antecedents and consequences of discrimination during adolescence: Does the source of discrimination matter? Developmental Psychology, 49, 1602-1613.

2019  Outstanding Graduate Teacher Award, Graduate School, UT Austin

2019  Faculty Research Award, School of Human Ecology, UT Austin

2013  Award for Early Career Research Contributions to Child Development, Society for Research in Child Development

2013  William T. Grant Foundation Scholar

2013  Monitoring the Future Visiting Scholar Program

2011  National Academy of Education/Spencer Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow

2010  Hershel D. Thornburg Dissertation Award, Society for Research on Adolescence

2010  Outstanding Dissertation Award, American Educational Research Society, Division E Human Development 

2009 Exemplary Dissertation Award, Spencer Foundation

2008  Ruth L. Kirchstein National Research Service Award, NICHD

Courses Recently Taught

HDF 371 – Adolescent Development

UGS 303 - Modern Family (University Signature Course)


HDF 380k.2  Foundational Statistics

HDF 380k.4 – Advanced Regression and Structural Models (SEM)

In Fall 2019, my research lab will be conducting interviews and daily diaries with approximately 150 high school students. Undergraduate and graduate research assistants will prepare data collection materials, interview participants, program daily diaries on iTouch devices and tablets, distribute and collect iTouch devices and tablets from students, and download and clean daily diary data. We will also begin examining participants' neighborhoods--this will include using Google Streetview to "walk" the neighborhoods and code different aspects of nieghborhoods (e.g., resources, challenges). We will also begin a new health study focused on the under-the-skin effects of discimrination during adolescence. This will include collection of EMA, blood pressure, and biomarker data.

If interested in participating in this research as a research assistant via course credit or on a volunteer basis, please email abenner@prc.utexas.edu. Thanks!