Early Development & Learning Science

Early Development & Learning Science

An exciting convergence of research, from neuroscience to economics, highlights the crucial role of early development and learning (0–8 years) in lifelong health, economic, and social success. Yet parallel advances in translating this research into innovative practice — and training those who will implement it — lag behind. Our expanding knowledge base calls for the creation of a dynamic, integrated developmental science program that:

  • conducts cutting-edge scholarship,
  • translates the science into children’s diverse contexts,
  • links children’s real-world challenges in ways that inform the research, and
  • prepares professionals to use it in their work with young children and families.

UC Berkeley, the premier public research university, is uniquely positioned — with world-renowned scholars and a diverse student body — to make remarkable progress in redefining developmental science on young children. Key scholars are committed to creative partnerships that integrate understanding across neuroscience, developmental psychology, education, public health, economics, social welfare, and policy. UC Berkeley’s 27,000 undergraduates exemplify what is possible with opportunity: 28% are first-generation college students, 21% have transferred from community colleges, and 40% speak a home language in addition to English. Notably, more than 20% of entering Letters & Science undergraduates reported strong interest in the new ED&LS Program. With a deep commitment to excellence, access, and diversity, the ED&LS Program will simultaneously innovate learning for UC Berkeley students and for young children worldwide.

Find out more about The Developing Child  Summer Minor and Certificate


We are developing two complementary programs in Early Development & Learning Science:

  • The ED&LS Global Center will bring together scholars leading innovative developmental science research on early childhood and its application in a global context.
  • The ED&LS Training Program is launching The Developing Child Summer Minor and Certificate to prepare students and professionals to integrate science, practice, and policy knowledge with problem-solving implementation skills in the real world. The ED&LS Undergraduate Major and Graduate Program are in development.

Leadership Team

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.

Kelly M. Campbell received her doctorate from the Graduate School of Education at UC Berkeley in 2016.  Her dissertation investigated the early writing development of preschool children, through a longitudinal design.  Previously, she worked in art education at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, as well as in preschool education.  Her main interest lies in the integration of theory, practice, and policy to better serve young children.  Dr. Campbell consults with the Early Learning Lab in Oakland and has been a member of the planning team for UC Berkeley’s new interdisciplinary minor, “The Developing Child.”

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 Past-President of the Society for Research in Child Development.

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 Crib,”  “The 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. 

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.

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 Cognition, Cognitive Psychology, and Developmental Science, and is supported by the National Science Foundation.

Luvy Vanegas-Grimaud is the ED&LS and Research Coordinator at IHD. She is an adjunct professor in the Department of Child Development at Merritt College, in Oakland, California, and is actively involved in various international teacher trainings. She is dedicated to helping early childhood educators become teacher researchers.    


If you have questions about our new programs, please contact Dr. Margaret Bridges.