Dr. Susan Swearer earned her Ph.D. in School Psychology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1997 and has been a member of the school psychology faculty at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln since that time. Her dissertation research was on the comorbidity of depression and conduct disorder in adolescence, which laid the foundation for her research on bullying behaviors. In 1999 she started the Target Bullying Research lab. Her research on bullying behaviors among school-aged youth has examined correlates and consequences of bullying, with the goal of helping students, school personnel and parents stop the bullying dynamic. The Target Bullying lab has also shed light on the important mental health connections underlying bullying and victimization. As a licensed psychologist, Swearer has taught and supervised the Child and Adolescent Therapy Clinic, focusing on training school psychologists in evidence-based cognitive-behavioral treatment approaches. Her clinical work and research led to the development of the Target Bullying Intervention Program, an individualized cognitive-behavioral approach to working with youth who bully others.

In 2012, Swearer received grant support from the Andrew Gomez Dream Foundation to collaborate with the Paul Mitchell network of cosmetology schools on the development of a social-emotional curriculum targeting self-empowerment, anti-bullying, and healthy relationships. This project served as the catalyst for the founding of the Empowerment Initiative in 2013, focused on understanding the factors needed to create conditions antithetical to bullying, like kindness and bravery. Her research lab designs and implements translational research that advances our understanding of the individual, social, and societal factors necessary to create healthy environments that support children, youth, families and schools.