Riana Anderson

Postdoctoral Fellow

Human Development and Quantitative Methods Division

Graduate School of Education
University of Pennsylvania


Professional Biography

Riana is a Ford Foundation Postdoctoral Fellow in the Applied Psychology and Human Development Division (APHD). Her current fellowship is with Dr. Howard Stevenson in the Racial Empowerment Collaborative (REC), which centers on cultural pride, coping and parenting, culturally specific parenting strategies, and other ways of reducing race-related stress. She received her doctorate in Clinical and Community Psychology at the University of Virginia and was a Clinical and Community Psychology Pre-doctoral Fellow at Yale University’s School of Medicine. Dr. Anderson graduated from the University of Michigan in 2006 with degrees in Psychology and Political Science. She then taught for 2 years with Teach For America in Atlanta, GA. She has also conducted community based participatory research at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, and neuropsychological research at Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C.

Dr. Anderson aims to assist at-risk youth with practical applications of her research and clinical services, as well as through academic instruction and policy recommendations. She strives to improve the psychological outcomes for African American youth through expanded coping strategies, discovery and encouragement of alternative outcomes, culturally and contextually relevant parenting programs, and community building, participation, and collaboration. One of her goals is to create youth centers and interventions that support the mental and physical health— as well as educational goals—of African American youth in urban communities.

Research Interests and Current Projects

Dr. Anderson is interested in fostering positive outcomes among impoverished, urban, and Black youth in contextually relevant ways. She investigates how protective familial mechanisms such as parenting and racial socialization operate in the face of risks linked to poverty, discrimination, and residential environment. Dr. Anderson is particularly interested in how these factors predict familial functioning and subsequent child psychosocial and academic achievement, especially relating to family-based interventions. She is currently working on a four-session intervention to assess and alleviate racial stress and trauma in order to facilitate healthy parent-child relationships and racial assertiveness.

Dr. Anderson’s master's thesis investigated factors explaining variance in parenting behaviors, including ethnicity, residential location, and measurement type. Her interest in culturally-specific approaches led her to consult with Charlottesville community groups and schools in Washington, D.C. on interventions. Additionally, she co-authored grants for Charlottesville families and services. Riana was awarded the Institute for Educational Sciences (IES) fellowship (2012–2014) and worked with the Foundations of Cognition and Learning lab in the Center for the Advanced Study of Teaching and Learning within the Curry School of Education at the University of Virginia. Her doctoral dissertation utilized a mixed-methods approach to explore the stress created by poverty on the parent-teacher relationship as students enter kindergarten. 


Selected Publications

Smith-Bynum, M., Anderson, R. E., Davis, B., Franco, M., & English, D. (in press). Racial coping and dyadic warmth in African American mothers and adolescents: An observational study of family processes. Child Development.

Anderson, R. E. (in press). Focusing on family: Parent-child relationships and school readiness among impoverished Black children. Journal of Negro Education.

Mattis, J. S., Grayman-Simpson, N., Powell-Hammond, W., Anderson, R. E., Mattis, J. H., & Kimbro, L. (in press). African American positive psychology. In E. Chang & N. Lin (Eds.), Handbook of positive psychology in racial and ethnic minority groups: Theory, research, assessment, and practice. Washington, D.C.: APA Press.

Anderson, R. E., Hussain, S., Wilson, M., Shaw, D., Dishion, T., & Williams, J. (online). Pathways to pain: Racial discrimination and relations between parental functioning and child psychosocial well-being. Journal of Black Psychology.

Williams, J. L., Anderson, R. E., Francois, A. G., Hussain, S., & Tolan, P. H. (2014). Ethnic identity and positive youth development in adolescent males: A culturally integrated approach.  Applied Developmental Science, 110–122.

Williams, J. L., Tolan, P. H., Durkee, M. I., Francois, A. G., & Anderson, R. E. (2012). Integrating racial and ethnic identity research into developmental understanding of adolescents. [Special issue]. Child Development Perspectives, 1–8.

Hill, J. L., Mance, G. A., Anderson, R. E., & Smith, E. P. (2012). The role of ethnic identity in interventions to promote positive adolescent development. Global Journal of Community Psychology Practice, 1–12.