hero image
Carolyn  Tucker Halpern, Ph.D. - UNC-Chapel Hill. Chapel Hill, NC, US

Carolyn Tucker Halpern, Ph.D. Carolyn  Tucker Halpern, Ph.D.

Chair, Maternal and Child Health | UNC-Chapel Hill


Areas of expertise: adolescent and young adult sexuality and risk-taking, healthy sexual development, developmental psychology.


Dr. Halpern is professor and chair of the Department of Maternal and Child Health (MCH) in the Gillings School of Global Public Health and a Faculty Fellow at the Carolina Population Center. 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. 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.

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.

Industry Expertise (2)



Areas of Expertise (5)

Sexual Development

Adolescent Health


Reproductive Health

Risk Taking

Accomplishments (3)

Recipient John E. Larsh Jr. Student Mentorship Award (professional)

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

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


Recipient Graduate School Faculty Award for Excellence in Doctoral Mentoring (professional)

University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, 2009

Education (3)

University of Houston: Ph.D., Developmental Psychology 1982

University of Houston: M.A., Developmental Psychology 1979

University of Houston: B.S., Psychology 1976

Affiliations (4)

  • Association of Teachers of Maternal and Child Health
  • Society for Research in Child Development
  • Society for Adolescent Health and Medicine
  • American Public Health Association

Articles (3)

Variations in the timing of first sexual experiences among populations with physical disabilities in the United States

Disability and Health Journal

NF Kahn, CM Suchindran, CT Halpern


"Timing of first sex has important implications for later sexual health, but little research has considered this in populations with physical disabilities."

view more

Cohort Profile: The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent to Adult Health (Add Health)

International Journal of Epidemiology

Kathleen Mullan Harris, Carolyn Tucker Halpern, Eric A Whitsel, Jon M Hussey, Ley A Killeya-Jones, Joyce Tabor, Sarah C Dean


"The National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health (Add Health) was developed in the 1990s in response to a mandate from the United States Congress to fund a study of adolescent health, and was designed by a team of multidisciplinary investigators from the social, behavioural and biomedical sciences."

view more

Adherence to gender-typical behavior and high-frequency substance use from adolescence into young adulthood.

Psychology of Men & Masculinity

Wilkinson, Andra L. Fleming, Paul J. Halpern, Carolyn Tucker Herring, Amy H. Harris, Kathleen Mullan

2008 "Substance use is prevalent among adolescents in the U.S., especially males. Understanding the cross-sectional and longitudinal associations between gender norms and substance use is necessary to tailor substance use prevention messages and efforts appropriately."

view more