Dr. Oesterle received her PhD in sociology from the University of Minnesota. Since joining the UW School of Social Work in 2002, she has worked with the Social Development Research Group (SDRG). Her research has two linked themes aimed at understanding how we can promote healthy development across the life span: 1) intervention research focused on preventing adolescent health-risking behaviors such as substance use and delinquency, and 2) life-course research with a focus on understanding positive young-adult development and its consequences for later life.
Dr. Oesterle is the principal investigator (J. David Hawkins, co-PI) of an NIH-funded study to examine the long-term effects of the Communities That Care (CTC) prevention system 11 and 13 years following its initial installation du ring a randomized trial in 24 small communities across the country. The experimental trial of CTC showed that when community stakeholders come together, use data to make informed decisions, and implement tested and effective prevention programs, they can make measurable improvements in adolescent health-risking behaviors communitywide. The ongoing continuation study examines CTC's ability to reduce drug use, delinquency, violence, sexual risk behavior, and other health-risking behaviors during young adulthood (at ages 21 and 23) in a panel of youths followed since fifth grade. The study also examines the adoption of adult roles (including employment, military service, college attendance, romantic relationships, marriage, and parenthood) among these youths who grew up in small towns of varying degrees of rurality.
Dr. Oesterle also is the principal investigator of a NIDA-funded pilot study to test the feasibility of using Facebook to recruit parents to a parenting program to prevent teen drug use. This project also aims to understand the utility and acceptability of using a private Facebook group to enhance and support this parenting program.