Dr. McNeely received a Masters of Arts in International Studies from the University of Miami and a doctorate in Public Health from UCLA. Her research focuses on how youth make successful transitions to adulthood in regions of political conflict around the globe and in regions of economic and social distress within the United States. She has a particular interest in how schools can promote positive youth functioning. As part of this research agenda, she evaluates programs and policies to promote the health of young people.
She uses multiple research methods including survey research, causal models, and qualitative methods. Her work has been supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Institute for Child Health and Development, the National Institute of Justice, the William T. Grant Foundation, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Jacobs Foundation, and many other foundations and organizations.