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Sunhye Bai
Sunhye (Sunny) Bai
Assistant Professor of Human Development and Family Studies
Karl R. and Diane Wendle Fink Early Career Professor for the Study of Families
Summary Statement

Sunhye Bai researches daily family processes that shape adolescent development, with a focus on family-based risk and protective factors for youth internalizing problems.

  • Human Development and Family Studies - HDFS
  • Research
  • Family Development
  • Adolescent Development
  • Graduate Program
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  • 2017, Ph.D., University of California, Los Angeles – Clinical and Health Psychology
  • 2010, M.P.H., University of California, Berkeley – Maternal and Child Health
  • 2008, B.S., University of California, Los Angeles – Physiological Science
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Office Address
216 Health and Human Development Building
The Pennsylvania State University
University Park, PA 16802
Additional Websites

Prevention Research Center

  • Adolescent development
  • Parenting
  • Emotion reactivity and recovery in daily life
  • Daily stress and resilience processes in the family
  • Sleep, depression, anxiety, and suicide risk during adolescence


  • Individual development – Adolescence
  • Family development
  • Prevention and intervention research
Professional Experience

Sunhye Bai is an assistant professor of Human Development and Family Studies at the Pennsylvania State University. She received her MPH degree from UC Berkeley in 2010, specializing in Maternal and Child Health, and received her Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology from UCLA in 2017, where she also completed her pre-doctoral clinical internship and postdoctoral fellowship. Her research broadly focuses on adolescent development in the context of daily family and school life. This work integrates human development, family studies and clinical and health research, and relies heavily on naturalistic measures of youth and family functioning including daily diaries, passive audio/videorecordings, and actigraphy.

Her research is in three related areas. First, she studies how youths’ day-to-day experiences at home and at school impact their mental health. These “day-to-day experiences” encompass ups and downs in emotions, sleep, health behaviors, and most importantly, family interactions. Second, her current research examines how parents adapt their caregiving approaches in the face of adolescent behavioral health concerns. Third, her work examines how modifiable health behaviors shape the course of internalizing problems, such as depression. Together, this research will help to better identify innovative strategies to enhance parent-child interactions and increase family strengths to promote health in adolescents.

Grants and Research Projects

Penn State Social Science Research Institute Level II Grant (2019 - present)

This project aims to characterize youth support seeking and caregiver support provision among youth with and without risk for internalizing disorders. We examine how youth at risk for internalizing disorders seek and receive support in daily life, by integrating subjective and objective passive data about family interactions in naturalistic and standardized settings. This research will help to reveal how the modern family support their teens, and how the ways in which families communicate foster resilience in youth.

American Psychological Foundation John and Polly Sparks Early Career Grant for Psychologists Investigating Serious Emotional Disturbance (2018)

Funded by the APF, this pilot study aims to reduce adolescent suicide risk by engaging youths and parents together in daily monitoring and coping strategy, delivered via their smartphones. The study evaluates whether this daily monitoring and coping strategy is acceptable, useful and helpful to teens and parents. It is conducted in collaboration with Dr. Joan Asarnow and team at UCLA.

Additional Information

Sunhye Bai is not accepting graduate students at this time.