The program in Developmental Psychology began in 1999 and currently has 7 core-faculty representing research interests in cognitive development and social development, as well as emphasis in infancy through emerging adulthood. At this time, the program is directed by Dr. David Geary.

The major emphasis of our program is research training. Graduate students engage in research with their primary advisor beginning in their first semester in the program and take supporting coursework. They gain a strong background in statistics and research methodology, in addition to social and cognitive development. The department provides financial support to students (tuition waiver plus a monthly stipend) through research, teaching assistantships or fellowships. Students are supported for at least five years and, generally, throughout their graduate training if they are in the program longer than five years.

The Developmental Division is committed to cultivating and preserving a graduate training program that embraces all forms of diversity, including but not limited to race, ethnicity, sex, age, national origin, religion, sexual orientation, gender identity and/or expression, disability status, and ideological beliefs. Our division has a strong track record of retaining and placing graduate students from underrepresented backgrounds in academic positions. We encourage students with backgrounds that have been historically underrepresented in the sciences to apply, including but not limited to BIPOC, LGBTQIA+, first-generation college students, veterans, returning students, and those of low socioeconomic status. For information regarding how to apply, evaluation criteria, and eligibility for application fee waivers, see the Applicant Information page for our Graduate Program.

Questions about the Developmental Division should be directed to:

  • Dr. David C. Geary, Director
    Developmental Psychology Program
    212B McAlester Hall
Lab Director Location
Developmental Cognition Lab

Our lab investigates infants' and young children's early understanding of number, time, and space. We are interested in learning what infants know about the world around them and how their knowledge changes over time.

Lab Flyer
Kristy vanMarle 100 McAlester
Evolution and Cognitive Development

Primarily, our lab does longitudinal research on development of mathematical cognition in children, and associated learning disabilities. Our studies in evolution currently focus on sex differences in vulnerability to stressors.

David C. Geary 350 McReynolds
Family and Child Development Lab

Research conducted in my lab focuses on the neurobiological mechanisms of the legacy of children's early experiences with parents for social and emotional development across the life course.

Lab Flyer
Ashley Groh 408 Noyes Hall
Family Relationships & Adolescent Development Lab

We conduct research on parent-adolescent and adolescent sibling relationships and their interplay within the broader family system as well as their impacts on adolescent adjustment.

Nicole Campione-Barr Social Development Laboratories; 2nd Floor McReynolds
MU Math Study Lara Nugent 350 McReynolds
The Milestones Lab at MU

The Milestones Lab at Mizzou is a broadly interested in the major developmental milestones in emotion development, personality development, and identity development that are important for adolescents and young adults. We are also interested in the kinds of life milestones—the major transitions to new opportunities and relationships—that draw upon developmental skills and help people find their place in the world. Our research studies often focus on life storytelling from individuals or among families as sources of data, and data that we train our assistants to break down further to see how people are organizing and reasoning about life. These approaches to life storytelling call upon emotion skills, reflect personality, and help people develop and maintain identity. These skills are also related to well-being and mental health—major outcomes of focus for our team. 


Recent projects address:

  • the ways family storytelling about emotional topics provides a rich space for parental guidance and coaching for adolescents, and how these behaviors shape adolescent health and functioning 
  • the ways multiple domains of personality inform older adolescents' progress in identity development 
  • the impacts of COVID-19 pandemic-related shutdowns on emotion adjustment and identity progress for college adults
  • the importance of structure, motivation, and reasoning in young adults' life stories about personal events and stories about the family for broader well-being
  • the importance of social support and extracurricular involvement in high school and college functioning


Recent collaborations include:

  • explorations of parenting and communication styles among Black mothers' and older children's conversations about honesty
  • testing the ways high school student-centered programs on encouraging mental health and equipping students to combat bullying contribute to a healthier school environment and greater well-being for students
  • testing the importance of math-centered socialization between parents and early school-age children
  • considering the importance of life stories centered on experiences with parents and grandparents as predictors of college student well-being and functioning
Jordan Booker McReynolds Hall - Social Development Labs are on the Second Floor

Current Developmental Psychology Faculty

Assistant Professor
213 McAlester Hall
Curators' Distinguished Professor
212B McAlester
Associate Professor
204B McAlester Hall
20 McAlester Hall
Research Specialist & Lab Manager
353 McReynolds
212E McAlester
Associate Professor
218 McAlester Hall