Megan R. Gunnar is a Regents Professor and Distinguished McKnight University Professor of Child Development at the Institute of Child Development, University of Minnesota. She completed a post-doctoral fellowship in developmental psychoneuroendocrinology at Stanford Medical School. Professor Gunnar has spent her career studying how infants and young children respond to potentially stressful situations. With her students, she has documented the powerful role that relationships play in regulating stress physiology in young children. Her work has shown that children in full-day child care show elevations in stress hormones over the day. The child care stress effect is stronger in toddlers than older preschool-age children and is stronger in poorer quality child care settings. In the last decade, much of her work has been devoted to understanding the impact of early deprivation and neglect on children's brain and behavioral development through the study of children adopted from orphanages and children in the foster care system. Dr. Gunnar directs a National Institute of Mental Health center on Early Experience, Stress and Neurobehavioral Development that includes researchers from seven universities. At the University of Minnesota she is the Director of the Institute of Child Development and the Associate Director of the Center for Neurobehavioral Development. Nationally, she is a member of the National Scientific Council on the Developing Child, a group who translates the science of child development for use by policy makers. This group grew out of the US National Institute of Medicine's panel on early brain and behavioral development that produced the report in 2000 titled "Neurons to Neighborhoods". Internationally, Dr. Gunnar is a member of the Canadian Institute for Advanced Research's program on Experienced-based Brain and Biological Development. In addition to early career awards, she recently received lifetime achievement awards from the American Psychological Association (G. Stanley Hall Award for Distinguished Contributions to Developmental Psychology) and the Society for Child Development (Distinguished Contribution to Research on Child Development).
Gunnar received her Ph.D in Psychology from Stanford University in 1978.