David C. Schwebel.

University Professor
Associate Dean for Research
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
HHB 560F
(205) 934-8745

Research Interests: Understanding and preventing unintentional injuries in children, adolescents, and young adults

Office Hours: By appointment


  • B.A., Yale University, Psychology
  • M.A., University of Iowa, Clinical Psychology
  • Ph.D., University of Iowa, Clinical Psychology
  • Internship, University of Washington School of Medicine, Clinical Psychology

David C. Schwebel has published over 235 peer-reviewed manuscripts, most focusing on understanding and preventing unintentional injury in children, adolescents, and young adults. Specific risk factors of interest include temperament and personality, overestimation of physical ability and cognitive development, and adult supervision of children.

From a prevention perspective, Dr. Schwebel has developed and implemented injury prevention techniques for a range of situations, including pedestrian safety training in virtual reality environments, school playground safety via behavioral strategies targeting teachers, drowning prevention through lifeguard training at public swimming pools, dog bite prevention in rural China and in the United States, and kerosene safety in low-income South Africa neighborhoods.

Dr. Schwebel is a Woodrow Wilson Scholar, a Fulbright Award winner, and a Fellow of the American Psychological Association. His research has been funded by NIH, CDC, DOT, and several other federal, non-profit and industry groups.

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UAB Youth Safety Lab

Dr. Schwebel is the director of the UAB Youth Safety Lab, a research lab dedicated to youth safety, conducting research using a wide range of experimental strategies. The UAB Youth Safety Lab conducts various studies designed to understand and prevent injuries to children, adolescents, and young adults.

Families interested in participating in research may contact the lab at (205) 934-4068 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Research Interests

What many people call an accident is usually not accidental. If people had behaved differently, that accident may have been averted. Early research in the UAB Youth Safety Lab, which I direct, focused on understanding psychological and behavioral factors that place children, adolescents and young adults at increased risk for unintentional injuries. We considered cognitive development, temperament, adult supervision, and many other factors.

Over time, my desire to apply our research findings to help children and families led me to translate our findings about risk for child injury into intervention and prevention programs. Currently, much of my research is focused on development, evaluation, and implementation of programs to reduce youth injury risk. Many of these prevention programs are based in technology — examples include using virtual reality to teach children to cross streets, multi-media internet training to improve teacher supervision at preschool playgrounds, and use of interactive augmented reality to help parents install car seats correctly. Other work is global — identifying ways to reduce kerosene poisoning in low-income South African communities, reducing risk of dog bites in rural China and pedestrian injury in urban China, and reducing suicide risk among young women in rural Iran. All of our research is closely grounded in psychological theory of child development, health-related behavior change, and ecological context. Our work is also applied, designed to improve public health through changes in how children and the adults who supervise them behave and think, or changes to the environment children and their supervisors engage within.

Our laboratory’s ultimate goal is to use psychological science to understand risk for injury and then develop, evaluate, and disseminate effective programs to reduce injuries to children, adolescents, and young adults.

Graduate Students

  • Casie Morgan (current)
  • Jenni Rouse (current)
  • Marissa Swanson (current)
  • Hayley Wells (current)
  • Jiabin Shen, 2015
  • Aaron L. Davis Fobian, 2012
  • Margaux Barnes, 2011
  • Katherine W. Byington, 2011
  • Despina Stavrinos, 2009 (co-chair)
  • Joanna Gaines, 2008 (MA thesis)
  • Elizabeth Bragg Bowling Lee, 2006
  • Benjamin K. Barton, 2005

Select Publications

  • Swanson, M.H., Johnston, A., Rouse, J.B., & Schwebel, D.C. (in press). Sibling supervision: A risk-factor for unintentional childhood injury in rural Uganda? Clinical Practice in Pediatric Psychology.
  • Schwebel, D.C., Wu, Y., Li, P., Severson, J., He, Y., Xiang, H., & Hu, G. (2018). Evaluating smartphone-based virtual reality to improve Chinese schoolchildren’s pedestrian safety. Journal of Pediatric Psychology, 43, 473-484.
  • Wells, H.L., McClure, L.A., Porter, B.E., & Schwebel, D.C. (2018). Distracted pedestrian behavior on two urban college campuses. Journal of Community Health, 43, 96-102.
  • Schwebel, D.C. (2017). How children learn to cross the street: Distinguishing the cognitive-perceptual task of street-crossing in high-income versus low- and middle-income countries. Annals of Global Health, 83, 328-332.
  • Schwebel, D.C., Evans, W.D., Hoeffler, S.E., Marlenga, B.L., Nguyen, S.P., Jovanov, E., Meltzer, D.O., & Sheares, B.J. (2017). Unintentional child poisoning risk: A review of causal factors and prevention studies. Children’s Health Care, 46, 109-130.
  • Schwebel, D.C., Johnston, A., & Rouse, J. (2017). Teaching infant car seat installation via interactive virtual presence: An experimental trial. Traffic Injury Prevention, 18, 188-192.
  • Schwebel, D.C., Johnston, A., Shen, J., & Li, P. (2017). Evaluating Otto the Auto: Does engagement in an interactive website improve young children’s transportation safety? International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health, 14, 804.
  • Schwebel, D.C., McClure, L.A., & Porter, B.E. (2017). Experiential exposure to texting and walking in virtual reality: A randomized trial to reduce distracted pedestrian behavior. Accident Analysis and Prevention, 102, 116-122.

Academic Distinctions and Professional Societies

  • UAB Disability Support Services Outstanding Faculty Award, 2017
  • Dennis Drotar Distinguished Research Award in Pediatric Psychology, APA Division 54 (Society for Pediatric Psychology), 2017
  • Board of Scientific Counselors, National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017-2020
  • UAB Provost's Award for Faculty Excellence in Academic Engagement and Global Citizenship, 2014
  • Caroline P. and Charles W. Ireland Prize for Scholarly Distinction, University of Alabama at Birmingham, 2013
  • Fulbright Award (Senior Specialists Scholar Award to China), 2011
  • Fellow, American Psychological Association, elected 2009 (Division 54)
  • Routh Early Career Award in Pediatric Psychology, APA Division 54 (Society for Pediatric Psychology), 2006
  • Woodrow Wilson Fellow (Children’s Health), 1999