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Gillings School Directory
Carolyn T. Halpern, PhD
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Carolyn T. Halpern, PhD

Professor and Chair
Department of Maternal and Child Health
Faculty Fellow
Frank Porter Graham Child Development Institute
Faculty Fellow
Center for Developmental Science
Faculty Fellow
Carolina Population Center
  • 401 Rosenau Hall
  • CB# 7445
  • Chapel Hill, NC 27599
  • USA

Dr. Halpern is professor and chair of the Department of Maternal and Child Health (MCH) in the Gillings School of Global Public Health. She is also a developmental psychologist and deputy director/co-investigator of the Waves IV and V National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health) program project.

Dr. Halpern’s research interests center on improving understanding of healthy sexual development and the implications of adolescent experiences for developmental and demographic processes into adulthood, particularly as these relate to sexual and romantic relationships.

Dr. Halpern has nearly 30 years of research experience in the study of adolescent and young adult sexuality and risk-taking in both U.S. and global settings, and more than 100 peer-reviewed publications on these topics. She has received multiple university-wide and national awards for mentoring and academic leadership.

Honors and Awards

Recipient John E. Larsh Jr. Student Mentorship Award

2016, Gillings School of Global Public Health, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Nominated for Carolina Women’s Leadership Council Mentoring Award, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

2014, UNC-CH

Nominee for the John Larsh Student Mentorship Award

2014, UNC-CH

Recipient Loretta Lacey Academic Leadership Award

2010, National Association of Teachers of Maternal and Child Health

Recipient National Association of Teachers of Maternal and Child Health Loretta Lacey Academic Leadership Award

2010, UNC-CH

Recipient Graduate School Faculty Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring

2009, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

Delta Omega

2007, Honorary Public Health Society

Nominated for Carolina Women’s Leadership Council Mentoring Award, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

2007, UNC-CH

Nominated for the Graduate School Faculty Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

2007, UNC-CH

Nominated for the Graduate School Faculty Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill

2006, UNC-CH

Nominee for the Bernard G. Greenberg Alumni Endowment Award

2004, UNC-CH

Nominee for the John Larsh Student Mentorship Award, Spring

2001, n/a

Nominee for McGavran Excellence in Teaching Award, Spring

2000, n/a

Representative Courses

MHCH 685 Human Sexuality | Syllabus

Teaching Interests


Research Activities

Dr. Halpern’s research interests center on improving understanding of healthy sexual development and the implications of adolescent experiences for developmental and demographic processes into adulthood. Her early research focused on the hormonal underpinnings of pubertal change and how the interactions of physical, psychological and social changes contribute to adolescent sexual initiation and behavior. Her current research examines comprehensive sexual initiation patterns among youth, and the implications of those patterns for later sexual behavior and adult health. Most of her research uses data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health), for which Dr. Halpern serves as Deputy Director.

Service Activities

2017 – present  NIH CIHB - Community Influences on Health Behavior Study Section, Standing Member

2016 – present  Member of Unintended Pregnancy Priority Working Group, NC State Health Improvement plan

2016 - present  Member Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) for NIDDK funded clinical consortium titled Adolescent Bariatrics: Assessing Health Benefits and Risks  (Teen-LABS) study

2016 – Present  Chair, Resource Development Committee, Sexual Health Initiatives for Teens, North Carolina (SHIFT NC); [Formerly Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina]

2015 – present  Associate Editor for Public Health and Policy, Journal of Adolescent Health

2014 – present  Member, Dean’s Council

2014 – present  Member, Chairs’ Committee

2013 - present  Advisory Board Member, Future of Sex Education (FoSE) Collaboration

2013 – Present  Member, Board of Directors, Sexual Health Initiatives for Teens, North Carolina (SHIFT NC); [Formerly Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention Campaign of North Carolina]


Practice Activities

Program Committee Member for the 2018 Meeting of the Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine.

Organizer and chair for the session “Adolescent Risk Behaviors and Health” for 2018 meeting of the Population Association of America.

Key Publications

Relationship between child maltreatment and adolescent body mass index trajectories. Sokol R, Gottfredson N, Shanahan M, Halpern CT (2018). Children and Youth Services Review, 93.

Two educational posters’ impact on contraceptive knowledge and intentions: A randomized control trial. Anderson SL, Freichs L, Kaysin S, Wheeler SB, Halpern CT, Hassmiller Lich K. (2018). Contraception, 98.

Does a parsimonious measure of Complex Body Mass Index Trajectories of BMI exist? Sokol R, Gottfredson N, Poti J, Halpern CT, Shanahan M, Fisher E, Ennett S. (2018). International Journal of Obesity.
View on ReachNC

Sexual orientation and sex differences in socioeconomic status: A population-based investigation in the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health. Conron KJ, Goldberg S, Halpern C. (1970). 2018.
View on ReachNC

Associations between patterns of sexual initiation, sexual partnering, and reproductive health outcomes from adolescence to early adulthood. Kahn N, Halpern CT.  (2018). Archives of Sexual Behavior.
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Experiences of vaginal, oral, and anal sex from adolescence to early adulthood among populations with physical disabilities in the United States. Kahn N, Halpern CT.  (2018). Journal of Adolescent Health., 62(3), 294-302.
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School support as structural HIV prevention for adolescent orphans in western Kenya. Cho H, Mbai I, Luseno W, Hobbs M, Halpern C, Hallfors DD (2018). Journal of Adolescent Health., 62(1), 44-51.
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Our Buddies, Ourselves: The Role of Sexual Homophily in Adolescent Friendship Networks. S Trinh, J Lee, C Halpern, J Moody (2018). Child development.

Adherence to gender-typical behavior and high frequency substance use from adolescence into young adulthood. A Wilkinson, P Fleming, C Halpern, A Herring, K Harris (2018). Psychology of men & masculinity, 19(1), 145-155.

Education

PhD, Developmental Psychology, University of Houston, 1982

MA, Developmental Psychology, University of Houston, 1979

BS, Psychology, University of Houston, 1976

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