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Kelly Purtell

Assistant Professor, Department of Human Sciences

Program Area: Human Development and Family Science

(614) 688-1896

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  • PhD, Developmental Psychology, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2010
  • BA, Psychology, University of Connecticut, 2005

Research Interests

Research Summary

My research centers on understanding how contextual factors shape health and development among low-income children and adolescents, and on how policies and programs can enhance the developmental trajectories of these youth. Specifically, my current research focuses on four themes: 1) the influence of family poverty on adolescents’ expectations and preparation for the transition to adulthood; 2) the role of income support benefits (ex. Temporary Assistance for Needy Families); 3) Understanding how educational settings, both in early childhood and K-12 years, influence the academic development of economically disadvantaged youth; and 4) quantitative methods, including longitudinal modeling and causal inference.


  • 2014-present: Assistant Professor, Human Sciences, The Ohio State University
  • 2012-2014: F32 National Institutes of Health Postdoctoral Fellow, Population Research Center, University of Texas at Austin
  • 2011-2014: Evaluation Consultant, Play to Learn Project, United Way for Greater Austin
  • 2010-2012: Postdoctoral Fellow, Human Development and Family Sciences, University of Texas at Austin
  • 2008-2010: Graduate Research Fellow, Carolina Institute for Public Policy

Selected Grants

  • The Development of Low Income Children in the Context of Welfare and Food Stamps. F32HD069121. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. Role: PI, 2012-1014. ($101,404).
  • State Variation in TANF Benefits and the Development of Low-Income Children. University of Michigan National Poverty Center Small Grants Competition. Role: PI, 2011. ($7,200).

Selected Publications

  • Henry, G. T.,Purtell, K. M., Bastian, K. C., Fortner, C. K., Thompson, C. L., Campbell, S. L., & Patterson, K. M. (2014). The effects of teacher entry portals on student achievement. Journal of Teacher Education, 65, 7-23.
  • Henry, G. T., Bastian, K. B., Fortner, C. K., Kershaw, D. C., Purtell, K. M., & Thompson, C. L., & Zulli, R. A. (2014).  Teacher preparation policies and their effects on student achievement. Education Finance & Policy, 9, 264-303.
  • Purtell, K. M. & McLoyd, V. C. (2013). Parents’ participation in a work-based anti-poverty program can enhance their children’s future orientation: Understanding pathways of influence. Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 42, 777-791.
  • Purtell, K. M. & McLoyd, V.C. (2013).  A longitudinal investigation of employment among low-income youth: Patterns, predictors, and correlates. Youth & Society, 45, 243-264.
  • Purtell, K. M., Gershoff, E. T., & Aber, J. L. (2012) Low income families’ utilization of the federal “safety net”: Individual and state-level predictors of TANF and Food Stamp receipt. Children & Youth Services Review, 34, 713-724.
  • McLoyd, V. C., Kaplan R., Purtell K. M., & Huston, A. (2011). Assessing the effects of a work-based antipoverty program for parents on youths’ future orientation and employment experiences.  Child Development, 82, 113-132.
  • Grammer, J. K., Purtell, K. M., Coffman, J. L., & Ornstein, P. A. (2011). Relations between children’s metamemory and strategic performance: Time-varying covariates in early elementary school. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 108, 139-155.