Santa Clara University


Dr. Barbara Burns


Barbara M. Burns came to Santa Clara University as the Director of Liberal Studies in September 2012. Barbara is a developmental psychologist who has worked in both the public and private sectors with colleagues in education, public health, pediatrics, social work, and psychiatry. The overall goal of her work has been to enhance the well being and school success of young children from families experiencing extreme economic hardship, disadvantage and stress. Her research focuses on risk and resilience related to school readiness, and the complex relations among child temperament, attention skills and motivation. Her research findings have underscored the need for early intervention for families from disadvantaged neighborhoods and suggest that parent education programs are needed which strengthen children’s executive functioning, promote strong and secure attachment and increase stress management skills and mindfulness in parenting.

The focus of Barbara’s research at Santa Clara University is to apply research findings on the science of resilience to address problems facing children and families from disadvantaged communities. She has established the Resilient Families Working Group to conduct community-based research to better understand issues of children’s resilience in high-risk families and evaluate programs designed to strengthen resilience through parenting. In 2013-2014, the Resilient Families Working Group will be working at multiple community sites with young children and parents on research to evaluate a parenting program. We will also be working to collaborate with students and faculty in engineering to create digital health tools to promote and support stress reduction and mindfulness in children and parents.

Contact the Resilient Families Working Group if you are interested in joining our team.

Contact Barbara Burns at

Curriculum Vitae