Learning Leader

CLI Celebrates Recognition of Dr. Landry for Research Excellence

The team at the Children’s Learning Institute is always inspired by the phenomenal research work directed by Susan H. Landry, PhD, who is a Michael Matthew Knight Memorial Professor in Pediatrics and holds the Albert and Margaret Alkek Distinguished Chair in Early Learning. 

As the Founder and Director of UTHealth’s Children’s Learning Institute (CLI), Dr. Landry’s foundational work has focused on evidence-based strategies towards helping children develop to their full potential both personally and educationally. A true pioneer, her career achievements in this research are extraordinary. With support from the National Institutes of Child Health and Development, Institute for Educational Sciences, U.S. Department of Education, Texas Education Agency, and numerous private foundations, she studies the biological, educational, and emotional influences on children’s development from infancy through adolescence.

Dr. Landry’s research serves as the cornerstone of CLI’s programs and initiatives. She, and our faculty, have also been published extensively in noted journals such as Child Development, Journal of Child Neurology, Journal of Educational Psychology, Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience, Journal of Learning Disabilities, Reading Research Quarterly, Developmental Neuropsychology, and Developmental Psychology. Under Dr. Landry’s direction, CLI is recognized throughout Texas, as well as nationally and internationally for its scope of research ranging from infancy through young adulthood. We collaborate with noted researchers throughout the world to ensure that we continue on the leading edge of developmental research. Dr. Landry’s research findings are included in more than 135 peer-reviewed publications, 30 chapters, an edited book, and the monograph Effective Early Childhood Programs: Turning Knowledge into Action.

Dr. Landry’s ability to transform research into practice quickly and meaningfully is helping close the large socio-economic gap in school readiness for young children throughout the state of Texas. The basis of much of Dr. Landry’s work is her Play and Learning Strategies (PALS) parenting program, which has been widely researched, tested, and used in 30 states. PALS strengthens the bond between parent and child in ways that stimulate early language, cognitive, and social development. After 15 years, PALS persists as a highly effective model for changing adult behaviors and beliefs about parenting and continues to be integrated into federally-funded interventions.

After demonstrating that certain parenting styles and positive parent-child interactions lead to better cognitive, social, and behavioral outcomes for very young children at high risk for school failure, Dr. Landry broke new ground by applying this knowledge to the field of early education. By combining effective approaches to fostering child development with educational research on what works for older children at risk, she developed a comprehensive and data-driven training program for preschool teachers and validated its effectiveness through multiple research studies. She then successfully collaborated with the Texas Education Agency and the Texas Workforce Commission to scale delivery to teachers across Texas through the Texas School Ready (TSR) project. Her resources are currently used in over 20,000 pre-kindergarten classrooms across the state.  

Many behavioral scientists spend a lifetime translating their research into practice; Dr. Landry has accomplished this in a relatively short time. Our experience working with her in both research and education settings has shown us that Dr. Landry’s impact not only stems from the phenomenal quality of her research, but also the genuine way she connects with individuals at all levels.

In recognition of her phenomenal achievements, Dr. Landry earned the UTHealth’s President’s Scholar Award for Excellence in Research on January 8, 2019. This award is especially meaningful as it is awarded to only one outstanding researcher each year, chosen from UTHealth’s six schools and over 2,000 faculty members. The criteria for this highly prestigious award includes the quality of the research, productivity, and peer recognition. It also recognizes overall exemplary dedication and service to the institution, while demonstrating long-standing excellence.

Dr. Landry is truly an exceptional and distinguished professional who promotes dedication to research and education and provides the ultimate example to all who are fortunate enough to work with her. Her research career has been extraordinary, not only in terms of the acquisition of funding and the breadth of research domains she has addressed, but also in terms of the translation of research into practices positively impacting the lives of children, their families, and their communities. Dr. Landry strives for excellence in every situation involving the betterment of children’s education and health. She promotes a positive attitude and environment not only for her faculty and staff, but also for the teachers, parents, and children who benefit from her expertise and assistance. 


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