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Erika Lunkenheimer, Ph.D.

Erika Lunkenheimer Ph.D.

Dr. Lunkenheimer is an Associate Professor of Developmental Psychology and a faculty affiliate of the Child Study Center at Penn State. She is also an Associate Director of the Child Maltreatment Solutions Network, housed in the Social Science Research Institute. She is also an Associate Editor of the journal Infant and Child Development. She holds a Mentored Research Scientist Development Award (K01) funded by the National Institute for Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). Her research has been disseminated in Developmental Psychology, Development and Psychopathology, and the Journal of Child Psychology and Psychiatry, among other academic journals.

Dr. Lunkenheimer’s research program revolves around risk and protective processes in the parent-child relationship, with the dual goals of (1) understanding how mother-child and father-child interaction patterns contribute to developmental psychopathology and (2) uncovering malleable relationship processes that could aid in the tailoring and improvement of preventive intervention programs for families at risk.

Grounded in dynamic systems theory and using dynamic time series statistical approaches, Dr. Lunkenheimer studies the moment-to-moment coordination of emotions, goal-oriented behaviors, and physiology between parents and young children in relation to familial risk factors and child outcomes (e.g., children’s self-regulation). A primary interest is examining the role that these parent-child coregulation patterns play in the development of child maltreatment, and their association with related maltreatment risk factors (e.g., harsh parenting, parental mental health problems and stress; children’s behavior problems). Ultimately, this work is designed to obtain a better understanding of regulatory processes between parents and children in order to maximize their use in improving parent-child interaction patterns in family-based interventions and preventing child maltreatment.