Sian Beilock is a cognitive scientist by training and serves as the eighth President of Barnard College at Columbia University. As one of the most selective academic institutions in the United States, Barnard College is devoted to empowering exceptional women to change the world and the way we think about it.
As President, she has responsibility for all aspects of the College, including establishing and carrying out the College’s strategic vision; budget; fundraising; and faculty, staff and students. During the first three years of her tenure, she has raised Barnard’s eminence in math, science and technology to parallel its renown in the arts and humanities; created options for students to transition directly from Barnard into a range of master’s programs at Columbia; and worked to bridge the gap between college and professional life through the innovative Beyond Barnard office. She is dedicated to ensuring that Barnard continues to attract a highly diverse student body deeply engaged with all that the College and New York City have to offer.
Prior to her appointment as President, Beilock served at the University of Chicago as Executive Vice Provost, the Stella M. Rowley Professor of Psychology, and an Officer of the University.
A cognitive scientist by training, Beilock is one of the world’s leading experts on the brain science behind “choking under pressure” and the brain and body factors influencing all types of performance: from test-taking to public speaking to your golf swing. She has authored two critically acclaimed books published in more than a dozen languages—Choke (2010) and How the Body Knows Its Mind (2015)—as well as over 100 peer-reviewed publications. Her 2017 TED talk has been viewed over 2.5 million times.
Beilock’s research is routinely covered in the media (e.g., CNN, New York Times, NPR, Wall Street Journal). She has been chosen as one of twenty-five “Women to Watch” by Crain’s Chicago Business Magazine and received early career contribution awards from the Psychonomics Society, the Society of Experimental Psychologists, the American Psychological Foundation and the Association for Psychological Science. In 2017, Beilock received the National Academy of Sciences Troland Research Award for her pioneering work on anxiety and performance in high-stress situations.
Beilock is a member of the National Academy of Kinesiology and the Council on Foreign Relations and a fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS). Her research is funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the National Science Foundation (including a CAREER award) and private foundations.
She 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.