Lisa Sontag-Padilla

Photo of Lisa Sontag-Padilla
Behavioral and Social Scientist
Pittsburgh Office


Ph.D. in developmental psychology, University of Florida; B.S. in psychology, Tulane University


Lisa Sontag-Padilla is a behavioral and social scientist at the RAND Corporation. She has expertise in child and adolescent health and development, parent-child relationships, as well as research design, strategic planning, data collection and analysis, and program evaluation. Her work involves examinations of individual differences in stress and resilience, parent and peer relationships, and the role of the school, neighborhood and larger community in youth development; evaluations of large federally-funded public health and mental health programs; and evaluations of locally-funded programs targeted at high-risk youth and families. Sontag-Padilla's research has appeared in top-tier, peer-reviewed journals and has been presented at nationally and internationally recognized peer-reviewed conferences. She completed her post-doctoral training in primary care research at Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center. Sontag-Padilla earned her Ph.D. in developmental psychology and a graduate certificate in social science methodology and statistics from the University of Florida.

Recent Projects

  • Interventions to improve reproductive health among adolescents
  • Evaluation of California Mental Health Prevention and Early Intervention Initiatives
  • Evaluation of New York City Community School Initiative
  • Evaluation of Healthy Futures
  • Cincinnati Child Poverty Task Force Action Plan Study

Selected Publications

Graber, J. A., & Sontag, L. M. "Internalizing problems during adolescence," in R. M. Lerner & L. Steinberg, Handbook of Adolescent Psychology, 3rd Ed: Volume 1 Individual Bases of Adolescent Development, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 2009

Sontag, L. M., Clemans, K. H., Graber, J. A., & Lyndon, S. T., "Traditional and cyber aggressors and victims: A comparison of psychosocial characteristics," Journal of Youth and Adolescence, 40, 2011

Sontag, L. M. & Graber, J. A., "Coping with perceived peer stress: Gender specific and common pathways to symptoms of psychopathology," Developmental Psychology, 46, 2010

Sontag, L. M., Graber, J. A., Brooks-Gunn, J., & Warren, M. P., "Coping with social stress: Implications for psychopathology in young adolescent girls," Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology, 36, 2008

Sontag, L. M., Dorn, L, D., Tissot, A., Susman, E. J., Beers, S., & Rose, S., "Executive functioning, cortisol reactivity, and symptoms of psychopathology in girls with premature adrenarche," Development and Psychopathology (forthcoming)

Sontag, L. M., Graber, J. A., & Clemans, K. H., "The role of peer stress and pubertal timing on symptoms of psychopathology in early adolescence," Journal of Youth and Adolescence

Sontag-Padilla, Lisa; Woodbridge, Michelle W.; Mendelsohn, Joshua.; D'Amico, Elizabeth J.; Osilla, Karen Chan.; Jaycox, Lisa.; Eberhart, Nicole K.; Burnam, M. Audrey; Stein, Bradley D., "Factors affecting mental health service utilization among California public college and university students," Psychiatric Services, 67(8), 2016

Sontag-Padilla, L., Dunbar, M. S., Ye, F., Kase, C. A., Fein, R., et al., "Strengthening College Students' Mental Health Knowledge, Awareness, and Helping Behaviors: the Impact of Active Minds, a Peer Mental Health Organization," Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, 57, 2018


  • College student using hand sanitizer, wearing a face mask, and walking on a college campus, photo by Nemer-T/Getty Images

    College Students Need Mental Health Support

    Rising mental health problems in the United States have long made health advocates and providers worried about the need for additional support for struggling college students. The pandemic has only exacerbated this concern.

    Oct 12, 2020 The RAND Blog