Sian Beilock

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Sian Leah Beilock
Sian Beilock headshot.jpg
Sian L. Beilock
Born (1976-01-10) January 10, 1976 (age 44)
Berkeley, California, USA
Alma materMichigan State University, Ph.D., M.A. University of California, San Diego, B.S.
Known forScience of choking under pressure; President of Barnard College
Awards2012 Outstanding Early Career Award (Psychonomic Society)[1] Robert L. Fantz Memorial Award for Young Psychologists (2011-American Psychological Foundation)[2] 2017 Troland Research Award (National Academy of Sciences) [3]
Scientific career
FieldsPsychology, Education, Neuroscience
InstitutionsBarnard College
Doctoral advisorDeb L. Feltz and Thomas H. Carr

Sian L. Beilock is the eighth President of Barnard College. She is a cognitive scientist. Previous to serving at Barnard College, President Beilock spent 12 years at the University of Chicago, departing as the Stella M. Rowley Professor of Psychology and Executive Vice Provost.[4] She holds doctorates of philosophy in both kinesiology and psychology from Michigan State University.[5]


Beilock graduated from the University of California, San Diego, where she received a B.S. in Cognitive Science with a minor in Psychology. She was awarded a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) from Michigan State University in 2003.


During and subsequent to her PhD research, Beilock explored differences between novice and expert athletic performances.

Later in her career, Beilock's research focused on why people perform poorly in stressful academic situations, such as taking a high-stakes mathematics exam. Beilock found that worries during those situations rob individuals of the working memory or cognitive horsepower they would normally have to focus. Because people with more working memory rely on their brainpower more, they can be affected to a greater extent in stressful academic situations. Beilock's work demonstrated that stressful situations during tests might diminish meaningful differences between students that, under less-stressful situations, might exhibit greater differences in performance.[citation needed]

From 2003 to 2005, Beilock was an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at Miami University. She was on the faculty at The University of Chicago from 2005 until 2017, where she was the Stella M. Rowley Professor of Psychology and Executive Vice Provost.[5]

On 1 July 2017 Beilock became the 8th president of Barnard College.[6][7]

Cognitive Science and Education[edit]

Beilock's research relates to educational practice and policy.[8] Her work demonstrates that students' attitudes and anxieties (as well as those of their teachers) are critical to student success.[9] In her work, she has developed simple psychological interventions to help people perform their best under stress.[10]


  • Beilock, S. L. (2010). Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal about Getting It Right When You Have To. Simon & Schuster: Free Press.
  • Beilock, S. L. (2015). How the Body Knows Its Mind: The Surprising Power of the Physical Environment to Influence How You Think and Feel. Simon & Schuster: Atria Books.


  1. ^ "2012 Psychonomic Society Annual Meeting". Psychonomic Society. Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  2. ^ "Robert L. Fantz Memorial Award for Young Psychologists". American Psychological Foundation (APF). Retrieved 6 February 2014.
  3. ^ "2017 NAS Troland Research Award". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 11 March 2017.
  4. ^
  5. ^ "President Sian Beilock | Barnard College". Retrieved 2018-07-20.
  6. ^ "Leading Cognitive Scientist Sian Beilock Named 8th President of Barnard College | Barnard College". Retrieved 2017-05-22.
  7. ^ "President Sian Beilock | Barnard College". Retrieved 21 May 2018.
  8. ^ Beilock, Sian (2011). "Back to school: Dealing with academic stress: Simple psychological interventions can reduce stress and improve academic performance". American Psychological Association. Retrieved 5 February 2014.
  9. ^ "Chapter 5. The role of anxiety and motivation in students' maths and science achievement". Developing Minds in the Digital Age: Towards a Science of Learning for 21st Century Education. OECD's Centre for Educational Research and Innovation. 2019. ISBN 9789264634312.
  10. ^ Paul, Annie Murphy (April 13, 2012). "How to Be a Better Test-Taker". The New York Times. Retrieved 5 February 2014.

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