Institute of Child Development, College of Education and Human Development, 2006
Megan R. Gunnar, Distinguished McKnight Professor (1996), Institute of Child Development, is considered one of the leading international scientists focused on understanding how social experiences in early life shape brain and behavioral development. She has brought about a paradigm shift in the way developmental scientists think about the effects of early life experiences by documenting the neurobiology of stress and thus of vulnerability to early stressful life events. Having demonstrated the way that stressful events can influence patterns of brain development, she is now beginning to demonstrate that these effects are at least partially reversible when the care children receive improves. She is starting to document the elements of therapeutic care giving (parenting) that foster recovery in previously neglected and maltreated children. Professor Gunnar has also been instrumental in shaping contemporary interdisciplinary sciences concerned with translating basic research, using animal models for human application through network leadership, mentoring, and extensive professional activities and services throughout the world. Because of her groundbreaking research, the University of Minnesota is at the center of a scientific revolution in the study of human functioning and development with powerful implications for human welfare. Professor Gunnar's NIH record of grants places her above the 95th percentile among grantees over the past 25 years. Not only has her research been continuously funded over this time, but she has also been awarded an unprecedented four consecutive NIH Career (K) awards, spanning the past twenty years. This year she is the recipient of the highest honor for lifetime contributions to developmental research given by the American Psychological Association, the prestigious G. Stanley Hall Award. All the while she was advancing to world leadership in the new integrative science of development, Professor Gunnar has provided outstanding teaching, mentoring, service, and outreach here in Minnesota. She is the co-director and founding member of the Center for Neurobehavioral Development; a gifted teacher who has engaged and inspired students from diverse backgrounds to become scientists; and a legendary advisor to graduate students who have gone on to illustrious careers. Her service to the University as well as to the profession is prodigious. She has been a faculty leader, serving on SCEP during the transition from quarters to semesters; currently is a member of the FCC; and, a member of the task force charged to restructure General College and the College of Education and Human Development. As a world leader in developmental science, a magnificent teacher, and a generous leader at all levels of the University over many years, she exemplifies the qualities of a Regents Professor.
Biographies are as-of time of award presentation.