Ron Dahl is a pediatrician and developmental scientist, committed to interdisciplinary team research to improve the lives of children and adolescents. His research includes basic studies of neurobiological and psychological development, clinical studies in pediatrics and child psychiatry, and consideration of the social, family, and cultural contexts that shape neurobehavioral development. He has published more than 200 scientific articles in these areas. He is currently serving as Director, Institute of Human Development UC Berkeley and Director, Center on the Developing Adolescent; Professor, Community Health and Human Development in the School of Public Health; and Professor, UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program. He is a Founding Editor of the Journal Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience, and is currently serving as President of the Society for Research in Child Development.

Role in IHD: Director

Research Areas: Adolescent Brain Development; Emotion Regulation; Sleep; Behavioral and Emotional Health in Children and Adolescents; Developmental Social/Affective/Cognitive Neuroscience; Transdisciplinary Research Informing Early Intervention/Prevention and Policy

Office: 2121 Berkeley Way West, Rm 3240

Phone: (510) 643-9063

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Stephen Hinshaw is Professor of Psychology at the UC Berkeley, and Vice Chair for Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at the UC San Francisco. He received his B.A. from Harvard and his doctorate in clinical psychology from UCLA. His work focuses on developmental psychopathology, clinical interventions, and mental illness stigma, with specialization in ADHD.  Hinshaw has authored over 300 publications plus 14 books, including The Mark of Shame: Stigma of Mental Illness and an Agenda for Change (2007), The Triple Bind: Saving our Teenage Girls from Today’s Pressures (2009), (with R. Scheffler) The ADHD Explosion: Myths, Medications, Money, and Today’s Push for Performance (2014), and (with K. Ellison), ADHD: What Everyone Needs to Know (2015). He is editor of Psychological Bulletin, and a fellow of the Association for Psychological Science, the American Psychological Association, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.

Role in IHD: Executive Committee

Research Areas: Developmental psychopathology; externalizing behavior dimensions and disorders; family, peer, and neuropsychological risk factors; mechanisms of change via clinical trials; stigma and mental illness

Office: 2121 Berkeley Way West, Rm 3406

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Alison Gopnik is a professor of Psychology and affiliate professor of Philosophy at UC Berkeley. She received her BA from McGill University and her PhD. from Oxford University. She is a world leader in the study of children’s learning and development. She is the author or coauthor of over 100 journal articles and several books including Words, thoughts and theories, The Scientist in the CribThe Philosophical Baby; What children’s minds tell us about love, truth and the meaning of life, and The Gardener and the Carpenter: What the new science of child development tells us about the relationship between parents and children. She writes the “Mind and Matter” column for the Wall Street Journal, and has written widely about cognitive science and psychology for Science, The New York Times, The Atlantic, Scientific American, The Times Literary Supplement, The New York Review of Books, New Scientist and Slate

Role in IHD: Executive Committee

Research Areas: Cognitive development, causal learning, psychology and philosophy

Office: 3317 Tolman Hall

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Mahesh Srinivasan

Mahesh Srinivasan Assistant Professor Psychology

Mahesh Srinivasan is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology and a member of the Cognitive Science Faculty at the University of California, Berkeley. He received his Ph.D. in Developmental Psychology from Harvard University in 2011. On campus, Dr. Srinivasan directs the Language and Cognitive Development Laboratory, which uses empirical methods to explore how linguistic, cognitive, and social abilities arise and interact with one another during human development and across different cultures. Dr. Srinivasan’s work has been published in numerous journals, including CognitionCognitive Psychology, and Developmental Science, and is supported by the National Science Foundation.

Role in IHD: Executive Committee

Research Areas: Flexible and pragmatic uses of language (e.g., polysemy, metaphor, implicature), the representation of abstract concepts (e.g., time, number), linguistic relativity, and social cognitive development in different cultural contexts

Office: 3315 Tolman Hall

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Linda Wilbrecht is an Associate Professor in the Department of Psychology at UC Berkeley where her research lab focuses on lab how experience alters neural circuits that contribute to value and reward based decision making. Her research goals include understanding how early life experience with unstable environments, stress or drugs of abuse might alter or limit human potential. She is particularly interested in mechanisms that regulate sensitive periods for neural plasticity and how these map onto the maturation of frontal cortical-striatal circuits. Through better knowledge of neural plasticity and sensitive period regulation in frontal circuits, she hopes to identify strategies to facilitate change in neural circuits and promote healthy decision making.

Role in IHD: Executive Committee

Research Areas: Experience dependent plasticity and the development of circuits involved in value based decision making; addiction.

Office: 3120 Tolman Hall

Phone: (510) 600-3560

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Margaret Bridges

Margaret Bridges Research Scientist Institute of Human Development

Margaret Bridges is a Developmental Psychologist and Research Scientist at IHD. She is leading the effort to build the new Early Development & Learning Science Program at UC Berkeley, a transdisciplinary, developmental science program focused on young children from the prenatal period to age 8. Dr. Bridges studies how family and preschool experiences influence the socio-emotional development and early academic skills of young children, as well as how families can be supported to prepare their young children for school.

Role in IHD: Coordinating Director of Early Development & Learning Science

Research Areas: Integrative research and practice in Early Development & Learning Science; How family and preschool experiences contribute to early learning; and Parent engagement

Office: 2121 Berkeley Way West, Rm 3222

Phone: (415) 302-9639

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Dr. Silvia Bunge directs the building Blocks of Cognition Laboratory, which draws from the fields of cognitive neuroscience, developmental psychology, and education research.  Research in the laboratory examine the neural basis of improvements in high-level cognitivie functions (reasoning, memory, and self-regulation) over childhood and adolescence.  This research on typical brain development serves as a foundation of the lab’s research on children with brain injury or neurodevlopmental disorders. Professor Bunge’s team conducts intervention research in children and adults in an effort to develop effective ways to promote cognitive skill development and subsequent academic achievement. Finally through the Frontiers of Innovation, Professor Bunge partners with practitioners to conduct intervention research with young children at high risk for school failure.

Role in IHD: Director of CHILD Research Central

Research Areas: Neural mechanisms, development, and plasticity of higher cognitive functions in humans

Office: 2121 Berkeley Way West, Rm 3109

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Dacher Keltner is a professor at UC Berkeley and director of the Berkeley Social Interaction Lab ( and faculty director of the Greater Good Science Center ( Dacher’s research focuses the biological and evolutionary origins of compassion, awe, love, and beauty, emotional expression, and power, social class, and inequality.  Dacher is the co-author of two textbooks, as well Born to Be Good: The Science of a Meaningful Life, The Compassionate Instinct, and The Power Paradox: How We Gain and Lose Influence.  Dacher has published over 190 scientific articles, he has written for the New York Times Magazine, The Wall Street Journal, and The London Times, and has received numerous national prizes and grants for his research. 

Role in IHD: Director of Greater Good Science Center

Research Areas: Emotion and Social Interaction, Power and Social Perception and Behavior, Negotiating Morality

Office: 3319 Tolman Hall

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Carolyn Cowan is Professor of Psychology, Emerita at UC Berkeley, where she is co-director of 3 longitudinal preventive intervention projects: Becoming a Family, Schoolchildren and Their Families, and Supporting Father Involvement. She consults widely on the development and evaluation of interventions for parents. Dr. Cowan is co-editor of Fatherhood today: Men’s changing role in the family (Wiley, 1988) and The family context of parenting in the child’s adaptation to school (Erlbaum, 2005), and co-author with Phil Cowan of When partners become parents: The big life change for couples (Erlbaum, 2000). Carolyn was a founding member of the Council on Contemporary Families.

Role in IHD: Co-Director of Supporting Father Involvement

Research Areas: Preventive Interventions. Family Systems. Establishing links between the quality of the relationship between the parents and their children's development. Evaluation of preventive interventions to strengthen couple relationships, foster more effective pare

Office: 2121 Berkeley Way West, Rm 3234

Phone: (510) 526-2586

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Philip A. Cowan is Professor of Psychology, Emeritus at the University of California, Berkeley, where he served as Director of the Clinical Psychology Program and the Institute of Human Development. In addition to authoring numerous scientific articles, he is the author of Piaget with Feeling (Holt, Rinehart, & Winston, 1978), co-author of When partners become parents: The big life change for couples (Erlbaum, 2000), and co-editor of four books and monographs, including Family Transitions (Erlbaum, 1990) and The family context of parenting in the child’s adaptation to school (Erlbaum, 2005). Phil was a founding member of the Council on Contemporary Families.

Role in IHD: Co-Director of Supporting Father Involvement

Research Areas: family systems, couple relationships, parenting styles, child cognitive and emotional development, preventive intervention

Office: 2121 Berkeley Way West, Rm. 3234

Phone: (510) 526-2586

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Jill Duerr Berrick’s research focuses on the child welfare system and efforts to improve the experiences of children and families touched by foster care. Her interests target the intersection between poverty, early childhood development, parenting and the service systems designed to address these issues. Her research approach typically relies upon the voices of service system consumers to identify the impacts of social problems and social service solutions on family life.

Role in IHD: Co-Director of Center for Child & Youth Policy

Research Areas: Family Policy, Child and Family Poverty, Child Abuse and Neglect, Foster Care, Kinship Care, Child Welfare Services

Office: 331 Haviland Hall

Phone: (510) 643-7016

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Neil Gilbert is the Milton and Gertrude Chernin Professor of Social Welfare and Social. Dr. Gilbert is also the co-director of the Center for Child and Youth Policy, director of the Center for Comparative Family Welfare and Poverty Research and the founding director of the Family Welfare Research Group. His publications include 31 books and 130 articles. His most recent books are A Mother’s Work (Yale University Press, 2008) and Never Enough (Oxford University Press, forthcoming)

Role in IHD: Co-Director of Center for Child & Youth Policy

Research Areas: Comparative Welfare State Analysis, Child Welfare, Evaluation Research, Family Policy, Social Security

Office: 327 Haviland Hall

Phone: (510) 642-4362

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Faculty & Associates

My research focuses on two major issues; one deals with developmental transitions in infancy, and the second on emotional development. My work on developmental transitions centers on the consequences of motoric activity for psychological development. When infants begin to crawl, they undergo a remarkable set of advances in spatial cognitive, perceptual, emotional, and social functioning. The studies I am now conducting address whether the onset of self-produced locomotion is a cause, or instead a maturational antecedent, of these changes.  My studies on emotional development address the question of the universality of patterning of facial and vocal expressions of emotion in infancy. These studies compares the expressions of infants in Japan, China, and the U.S. in response to elicitors of fear, anger, sadness, surprise, and other emotions.

Research Areas: Social-emotional development in infancy, especially emotional communication and perception of emotion; and the relation of motor development to cognitive, social and emotional development

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My work explores how family life and parenting are constructed within cultural, social, and historical processes. Much of my research aims to identify how social conditions shape parents’ childrearing beliefs, goals, and actions as well as how parents shape and change the institutions with which they interact. I focus particularly on parents who face extraordinary challenges, including sexism, homophobia, poverty, and racism. I am very interested in learning how parents interact with their children's schools and schooling and in identifying ways that schools can best support the development and achievement of children in diverse families.

Research Areas: Social and Emotional Development

Office: 4309 Tolman Hall

Phone: (510) 642-4202

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Larry Nucci studies children's social and moral development and education. An aspect of his work has focused on children's judgments about issues they consider to be personal matters of privacy and discretion. This research has been carried out in a number of contexts including Latin America and Asia. His current work in China employs online diaries to gather urban adolescents’ self-reports of their relationships and conflicts with parents. Recently, his educational work has focused on collaboration with middle school history teachers in the Oakland Unified School District toward the integration of moral education into the regular academic curriculum.   He is currently the Editor in Chief of the journal, Human Development.

Research Areas: Adolescence, Child Development, Moral and Social Development, Moral Education, Social and Emotional Development

Office: 1213 Tolman Hall

Phone: (510) 642-4202

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Geoffrey Saxe studies relations between culture and cognitive development with a focus on mathematical cognition. He has conducted his research in a variety of settings, including remote parts of Papua New Guinea, urban and rural areas of Northeastern Brazil, and elementary and middle school classrooms in the United States. A secondary focus is mathematics education; with colleagues, his recent design research that has led to an innovative curriculum on integers and fractions that makes use of the number line as a central representational context. 

Research Areas: Child Development, Cognitive Development, Cultural Studies, Culture-cognition Relations, Developmental Theories, Mathematics Education

Office: 4315 Tolman Hall

Phone: (510) 643-6627

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Jennifer Skeem is a clinical psychologist and professor in the School of Social Welfare and Goldman School of Public Policy. Her specializations include mental health, criminal behavior and intervention/policy.

Her research is designed to inform clinical and legal decision-making about people with emotional and behavioral problems. Specific topics include identifying factors that improve outcomes for offenders with serious mental illness, understanding psychopathic personality disorder and promoting prosocial behavior among juveniles at high risk for violence. 

Research Areas: Behavioral Health and Prevention/Intervention, Violence and Victimization, Criminal Justice Health Policy, Children, Youth and Families, Psychology and Law, Risk Reduction, Mental Health, Implicit Cognition and Emotion

Office: 202 Haviland

Phone: (510) 642-0766

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Dan I. Slobin is an Emeritus Professor of Psychology and Linguistics at UC Berkeley, still actively involved in research and writing, as well as travel and non-academic personal writing. Professionally he is a cognitive/functional psycholinguist who explores the interfaces between child language, cognition, and linguistic typology. He began his career at Harvard's Center for Cognitive Studies in the early sixties, being shaped by the emerging "cognitive revolution", and receiving a Ph D in social psychology in 1964. Since then he has been at the University of California at Berkeley, carrying out research on child language development in a crosslinguistic and crosscultural perspective. Slobin's research sites include the U.S., Turkey, Israel, Croatia, Spain, and the Netherlands, conducting research on early child language in a range of spoken and signed languages. His students and collaborators have carried out research in dozens of countries. A major focus of the work is ways in which languages differ in their mappings between concepts and linguistic forms - what Slobin calls "thinking for speaking." In recent years he has become especially concerned with typological/functional linguistics and with the manual/visual modality of sign language and co-speech gesture. For the past twenty years or so he has been collaborating with his Dutch partner, Nini Hoiting, at the Royal Institute for the Deaf in the Netherlands, investigating the linguistics and acquisition of signed languages of the deaf.

Research Areas: Psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, language and cognitive development, sign language, cross-cultural

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Merging her background in developmental psychology and applied linguistics, Laura Sterponi has advanced a research program that is centrally concerned with the role of language and literacy practices in children's development and education. Sterponi is drawn to study language, oral and written, both as a central means of learning and as a critical target of cultural transmission. Her work thus explores the interface between cognition and culture in communicative practices across learning contexts. Sterponi has developed a strand of research on language in childhood autism, which further explores the cognitive and interactional underpinnings of language development.

Research Areas: Child Development, Classroom Discourse, Communication in Autism Spectrum Disorders, Language Socialization and Development, Literacy

Office: 5643 Tolman Hall

Phone: (510) 642-0287

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Fei Xu is a Professor of Psychology who studies probabilistic inference, physical reasoning, psychological reasoning, word learning, causal learning, and social cognition.  She investigates whether infants and young children are active learners; whether internal processes such as analogy and explanation play a role in how children take into account their environmental input; whether young learners show fine grained sensitivities to probability and how they use probabilistic information in statistical inference; how probability is related to other quantitative reasoning abilities; how agency may be construed using probabilistic evidence; and how children decide who to learn from when majority opinion conflicts with other sources of information. 

Research Areas: Cognitive and language development, including infant cognition, statistical inference across domains, physical and psychological reasoning, word learning, number representations, social cognition, language and thought, concept acquisition, psychology and p

Office: 2121 Berkeley Way West, Rm 3336

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Qing Zhou is an Associate Professor in Psychology at University of California, Berkeley. Her research focuses on understanding how cultural, family, and other contextual factors shape children’s self-regulation, psychopathology, and academic development in ethnic minority and immigrant families in the U.S. and families in Asia. Dr. Zhou’s team is currently working on: a) a longitudinal study on mental health, socio-emotional, and academic development of Chinese American children from immigrant families; b) a study on bilingual and socio-emotional development in preschool-age children from Spanish- and Chinese-speaking homes; and c) a study on teacher influences on children’s emotional competence in preschool/pre-K classrooms.  

Research Areas: Developmental psychopathology, with an emphasis on the roles of temperament, emotion-related processing, and family socialization in the development of child and adolescent psychopathology and competence; cultural influences on socio-emotional development.

Office: 2121 Berkeley Way West, Rm 3408

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