College of Education and Human Development

Institute of Child Development

ICD’s Stephanie Carlson awarded $2.8 million grant from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Stephanie Carlson

Stephanie Carlson, Distinguished McKnight University Professor in the
Institute of Child Development, has been awarded $2.8 million by the National
Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD). The grant aims to
align measures of personal attributes that best predict physical and mental
health outcomes in youth.

Carlson’s research focuses on Executive Function (EF) skills – which include attention, working memory, inhibitory control, cognitive flexibility, and reflection. Together with students and colleagues, she has been studying EF measurement, development, and social, economic, and cultural influences. This new grant will not only investigate the role of EF in children’s health, but also will incorporate measures of personality and risky decision-making to help inform (a) the alignment of measures of these personal attributes in early adolescence, and (b) how well they independently and collectively predict health outcomes in youth by age 17. One deliverable of this research could be a streamlined set of measures for school-age children that best predicts individual differences in their later physical and mental health.

The research team plans to enroll 1,200 families with youth ages 9-13 years old to measure these personal attributes along with family information. They will be followed annually for four years. Project leadership also includes James J. Heckman of the University of Chicago, Patrick Kyllonen of the Educational Testing Service, and Thomas Dohmen of the University of Bonn. Previous data sets involving similar measures of youth in China and Germany will be analyzed in relation to the new data collected at the University of Minnesota to address potential cultural variation in the measures of interest.

Congratulations Stephanie!