Sian L. Beilock, PhD

President
Barnard College

Sian Beilock

Prior to her appointment as president of Barnard College, Beilock spent twelve years at the University of Chicago. As the Stella M. Rowley Professor of Psychology and the College and a member of the Committee on Education, she specialized in how children and adults learn and perform at their best, especially under stress. In her role as a member of the senior leadership, she served as the vice provost for academic initiatives, and as the executive vice provost and an officer of the university.

In her research, Beilock focuses specifically on success in math and science for women and girls, and how performance anxiety can either be exacerbated or alleviated by teachers, parents, and peers. She explores the brain and body factors that influence skill learning and performance, as well as how simple psychological strategies can be used to ensure success in high-stakes situations ranging from test taking and public speaking to athletics. She works extensively with educators and those involved in public policy, including serving on a National Research Council committee on decision making and stress.

While in the provost’s office at the University of Chicago, Beilock created and launched UChicagoGRAD, a university-wide office and initiative designed to ensure that Chicago’s graduate students and postdocs develop the necessary skills—from writing and communication to advanced pedagogy—to be leaders in academia, government, industry, and the nonprofit sector. She led UChicago Urban, the University of Chicago’s integrative efforts to bridge urban scholarship, practice, and engagement. Beilock was also responsible for academic centers including the University Libraries and the University of Chicago Press, academic space planning and allocation, and the development and implementation of several major building projects.

Beilock won the 2017 Troland Award from the National Academy of Sciences. In addition, she is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Psychological Association, and a member of the National Academy of Kinesiology. Early in her career, she received awards from the Association for Psychological Science, American Psychological Foundation, the Psychonomic Society, and the Society of Experimental Psychologists.

President Beilock is the author of two books that have been published in over a dozen languages—the critically acclaimed Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal about Getting It Right When You Have To (2010) and How the Body Knows Its Mind: The Surprising Power of the Physical Environment to Influence How You Think and Feel (2015). She has published more than 100 papers and has received funding from the National Science Foundation (including a CAREER award), the Department of Education, and several foundations.

President Beilock earned her bachelor of science in cognitive science from the University of California, San Diego, and doctorates of philosophy in both kinesiology and psychology from Michigan State University. Prior to joining the faculty at the University of Chicago, Beilock was an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Miami of Ohio University.