Rees-Jones Director d.knight@tcu.edu

Danica Kalling Knight, PhD

Dr. Danica Knight is the Rees-Jones Director of the Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development (KPICD) and Professor of Psychology at Texas Christian University (TCU). As director, her primary responsibility is to ensure that Karyn’s dream of “bringing hope and healing to children around the world” is realized through the institute’s mission of research, education, and outreach efforts. In her role as professor, Dr. Knight mentors graduate students working toward their PhD in Experimental Psychology, leads the institute’s undergraduate research lab, and teaches courses in developmental psychology.


Dr. Knight earned her Bachelor of Music (BM, Music Therapy) from Southern Methodist University (SMU) and her MS and PhD in Experimental Psychology from TCU under the tutelage of Dr. David Cross. In 1992, she joined TCU’s Institute of Behavioral Research where she led large-scale projects designed to address adolescent mental health and substance use. In 2019, she joined the KPICD, serving as Associate Director of Research, and began collaborating with the Education, Outreach, and Research teams to adapt TBRI for justice-involved youth and strengthen the overall evidence base for TBRI.


Over the years, she has authored numerous scientific articles on trauma-informed prevention interventions, improving substance use and mental health outcomes, and strategies for supporting successful implementation of new practices. Her most recent NIH/NIDA-funded grant, Leveraging Safe Adults (LeSA), examines the effectiveness of Trust-based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®) in preventing substance use among justice-involved youth as they transition home after secure residential care. Dr. Knight also serves as Project Director for KPICD’s Center for the Adaptation and Implementation of TBRI (CAIT), funded as part of the National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN; https://www.nctsn.org/network-members/anchorage-community-mental-health-services-child-trauma-center?state=All&field_organization_type_value_2=2&field_person_type_value_2=All&page=3).


Dr. Knight and her husband Dr. Kevin Knight (director of TCU IBR) met at SMU and moved to Fort Worth to enter TCU’s graduate program. After graduate school, they worked together at IBR until Danica’s move to KPICD in 2019. Their daughter Lorelle and her husband are physicians in San Antonio and their son Collin designs multi-family housing with an architecture firm in Houston. They became proud grandparents in 2022!