2021 Research Prize

Charles (Chuck) Nelson is professor of Pediatrics and Neuroscience and of Psychology at Harvard Medical School. He is also professor of Education in the Harvard Graduate School of Education. He is a pre-eminent researcher on effects of early childhood experience on brain and behavioral development, particularly the impact of early psychosocial adversity. Building upon his work on the effects of neglect among young children in Romanian orphanages, Dr. Nelson’s research has been foundational in the development of global policies to protect and support orphaned and abandoned children. His ongoing research in the interdisciplinary field of developmental cognitive neuroscience, particularly on autism and related disorders, has broadly informed education practice and policy.

Using the funds from this prize, Dr. Nelson plans to continue his studies of childhood adversity in low educational attainment, low-income families with exposure to financial and environmental stressors. To further investigate a number of intriguing early results in a Boston-based study, Dr. Nelson plans to expand and extend the scope of the current study, following the cohort for an additional 4-5 years to verify early finding on maternal stress and child well-being, as well as investigating the presence and utility of certain physiological markers of childhood stress.

“My work on early adversity has woven itself into the policies and practices of both educators and lawmakers such that both professions now pay careful attention to children’s early environments.”

Charles A. Nelson

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