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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 
M.S., Purdue University 
B.S., Vanderbilt University 

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 2022.


Current Grant Funding

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

Principal Investigator, Disrupted Trajectories of Well-being and Compensating Supports in the Time of COVID-19. The Spencer Foundation (2020-2022)

Co-principal Investigator, School-based Marginalization, Social-Behavioral Competencies, and Achievement: A Meta-analysis. (2019-2022).

Prior Grant Funding

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

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).

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., *Chen, S., Mistry, R.S., & Shen, Y. (2021). Life course transitions and educational trajectories: Examining adolescents who fall off track academically. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 50, 1068-1080.

Benner, A.D., *Fernandez, C.C., Hou, Y., & *Gonzalez, C. (2021). Parent and teacher educational expectations and adolescents’ academic performance: Mechanisms of influence. Journal of Community Psychology, 49, 2679-2703.

Benner, A.D. & Mistry, R.S. (2020). Child development during the COVID-19 pandemic through a life course theory lens. Child Development Perspectives, 14, 236-243.

Martin-Storey, A. & Benner, A.D. (2019). Externalizing behaviors exacerbate the link between discrimination and adolescent health risk behaviors. Journal of Youth and Adolescence48, 1724-1735.

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.

2020  Fellow, Association for Psychological Science

2020  Mid-career Award for Research Excellence, Society for Research on Adolescence

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

2008  Ruth L. Kirchstein National Research Service Award, NICHD

Courses Recently Taught


HDF 305 – Health and Health Behaviors across the Life Span

HDF 371 – Adolescent Development



HDF 380k.2  Foundational Statistics

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

In Fall 2021, we will be collecting surveys and daily diary data from a sample of 450 adolescent participants. For daily diaries, research assistants will recruit adolescent participants, monitor daily diary participation, and ensure daily diary compliance. For surveys, research assistants will conduct follow-ups to encourage participation and enter and clean survey data as needed. Research assistants will receive comprehensive training to build their skills and competencies in collection of biomarker and health data, which will be collected during home visits in Spring 2022 (pending pandemic status). Once trained, during home visits, pairs of research assistants will collect participants blood pressure, height, weight, waist circumference, and blood spots. At these home visits, research assistants also will train participants to collect their saliva and use the ecological momentary assessment wearable device (E4 device).

Research assistants will also participate in other lab-related research tasks, including data cleaning and coding, data management organization, data analysis, Google streetview coding, and other tasks as needed. Research assistants for the project need to be comfortable speaking with students and their parents.

Spanish language proficiency is definitely a plus! 

See: http://sites.utexas.edu/projectlibra/