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College of Science & Engineering



David Cross, Rees-Jones Director of TCU’s Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development (KPICD), will retire at the end of this year. Cross and Karyn Purvis cofounded KPICD as a result of the Hope Connection, a research and intervention project they developed in 1999. The results of the Hope Connection summer camp led to development of Trust-based Relational Intervention® (TBRI®), an attachment-based, trauma-informed intervention designed to meet the complex needs of vulnerable children. For more than 30 years, Cross has been fiercely committed to changing the world for children. In his time at TCU, he has received the Psi Chi Distinguished Professor in Psychology three times, an award that recognizes superior achievements of those in the field of psychology.

Serving previously as Associate Director of Research at KPICD, Danica Kalling Knight will step into the role of the Rees-Jones Directorship for the KPICD when Cross retires. She says, “I am incredibly honored and grateful for the opportunity to serve the KPICD and TCU in this role. It is truly a privilege to be entrusted with the legacy of David Cross and Karyn Purvis. I’m excited to walk alongside my KPICD colleagues and partners around the world as we equip students, professionals, organizations, and systems of care to bring hope and healing to children who’ve experienced trauma.”  

Knight earned her Master’s and Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology from TCU under David Cross’ mentorship. She served as Research Scientist at TCU’s Institute of Behavioral Research for 27 years where she conducted large-scale research projects designed to address adolescent mental health and substance use. In 2019, Knight joined the KPICD and began working to adapt TBRI for justice-involved youth and strengthen the overall evidence base for TBRI.

Michael Kruger, Dean of the College of Science & Engineering, says, “Danica’s experience, skillset, belief in servant leadership, commitment to all aspects of KPICD and TCU, and growth mindset, make her the ideal person to lead KPICD. I look forward to seeing KPICD continue its upward trajectory under Danica’s leadership.”

Knight teaches developmental courses, mentors undergraduates working in the KPICD research lab, mentors graduate students working toward their Ph.D. in Experimental Psychology, and works closely with KPICD team members support the work of the institute. Her publications focus on identifying factors affecting recovery from substance use and trauma; improving substance use screening, assessment, and treatment services for justice-involved youth; understanding organizational factors associated with the adoption, implementation, and use of best practices; and testing strategies for improving identification and linkage to treatment.

About TCU’s Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development

The Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development is a program of the Department of Psychology in the TCU College of Science & Engineering. Its mission is to improve the lives of children through research, education, and outreach that addresses the impact of early abuse, neglect, and trauma. Through research and interventions, KPICD is empowering parents, professionals, and students around the world with trauma-informed strategies that improve outcomes for children and youth. Since the days of the first Hope Connection® Camp, which focused on the needs of children in adoptive and foster families, KPICD has expanded its focus by training professionals who work in a variety of caregiving contexts, including foster homes, residential settings, court rooms and classrooms.


Learn more about TCU's Karyn Purvis Institute of Child Development