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Melissa K. Holt

Director, Kilachand Honors College
Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Professor
Professor, Counseling Psychology

Dr. Melissa K. Holt is a professor of counseling psychology at Boston University Wheelock College of Education & Human Development and a licensed psychologist. She is also director of the Kilachand Honors College at Boston University and the Arvind and Chandan Nandlal Kilachand Professor.

Dr. Holt’s research explores how adolescents’ exposure to violence—particularly bias-based harassment (i.e. harassment based on one’s identity)—influences mental health and well-being; ways in which school-based prevention programs can play a central role in reducing students’ exposures to bullying and bias-based harassment and improving school climate; and the experiences of gender-diverse adolescents, with an emphasis on the ways in which contexts and systems can better support gender diverse youth and amplify youth strengths.

Before joining BU Wheelock, Dr. Holt was a behavioral scientist at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention within the Division of Violence Prevention, as well as a research assistant professor at the University of New Hampshire’s Crimes against Children Research Center. In both positions, Dr. Holt’s emphasis was on projects focused on youth violence, with a particular emphasis on bullying and multiple victimization. Her research has been funded by the National Institutes of Justice, and her scholarship has been published widely, including the Journal of Adolescent Research, the Journal of School Health, and Pediatrics.

PhD, Counseling Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

MS, Counseling Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

BS, Psychology, Tufts University

Root Causes of Bias-Based Harassment in Schools (Role: PI), National Institutes of Justice ($1,290,546). This project has two primary aims: (A) To identify rates and outcomes (psychological, school-related) of bias-based harassment (victimization and perpetration related to: gender identity, religion, immigration status, sexual orientation, race/ethnicity) among adolescents; (B) To determine risk and protective factors at multiple levels of the social ecology that predict bias-based harassment, and buffer or exacerbate outcomes.

Shah, T.N.*, Parodi, K.B.*, Holt, M., Green, J.G., Katz-Wise, S.L., Kraus, A.*, & Kim, G.S. (2022).
Transgender and non-binary adolescents: A qualitative exploration of how they define and identify supports. Journal of Adolescent Research.

Grills, A., Holt, M., Reid, G.*, & Bowman, C.* (2022). Bullying and Peer Victimization. Boston, MA: Hogrefe Publishing.

Bacher-Hicks, A., Goodman, J., Green, J.G., & Holt, M. (2022). The COVID-19 pandemic disrupted both school bullying and cyberbullying. American Economic Review: Insights, 4 (3), 353-370. DOI: 10.1257/aeri.20210456

Parodi, K.*, Holt, M., Green, J., Porche, M., Xuan, Z., & Koenig, B. (2022). Time trends and
disparities in anxiety among adolescents, 2012 – 2018. Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, 57 (1), 127-137.

Holt, M., Espelage, D., Van Ryzin, M., & Bowman, C.* (2018). Peer victimization and sexual risk taking among adolescents. Journal of School Health, 88 (12), 903-909. doi: 10.1111/josh.12698

Fusco, N.*, Holt, M., & Merrin, G. (2023). A longitudinal examination of associations between bias-based harassment and substance use among sexual minority youth. Poster presented at the NIJ National Research Conference, Arlington, VA.

Holt, M., Zimski, P.*, Merrin, G.J., Liu, Q.*, Green, J.G., & Gini, G. (2023). Bias-based harassment and its associations with depression, anxiety, and substance use among adolescents: Identifying protective factors. In M. Holt & O. Wyatt (Chairs), Bias-based Bullying among Adolescents: Protective Factors and Bystander Interventions. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association’s Annual Meeting.

Holt, M., Merrin, G.J., Wyatt, O., Green, J.G., & Gini, G. (2022). Exposure to multiple forms of bias-based harassment among adolescents: Predictors, correlates, and protective factors. In M. Holt (Chair), Bias-based Harassment and Hate Crimes among Adolescents: Prevention Implications from Three Methodologically Diverse Studies. Paper presented at the Society for Prevention Research annual meeting, Seattle, WA.

Holt, M., Ranker, L., Kraus, A.D.*, Xuan, Z., Greif Green, J., & Katz-Wise, S. (2022). Wellbeing among a national sample of transgender youth: Associations with gender affirming care and social transitioning. Paper presented at the 27th World Professional Association for Transgender Health (WPATH) Symposium, Montreal, Canada.

Holt, M., Parodi, K.*, Green, J.G., Katz-Wise, S.L., Xuan, Z., Kraus, A.*, & Shah, T.N.* (2022, April). Recruitment and retention of transgender and non-binary adolescents: A Pilot longitudinal study. In M. Holt (Chair), Critical Contexts for Adolescents: Exploring Contextual Influences on Sexting Behaviors and on the Experiences of Gender Expansive Adolescents. Paper presented at the American Educational Research Association’s Annual Meeting.