Meet the New Dean of the Graduate School: Laura Carlson

Author: Mary Hendriksen


Laura Carlson, professor of psychology, is the University’s new vice president and associate provost and dean of the Graduate School.

Dr. Carlson’s tenure on the Graduate School’s leadership team began in 2009, when she was named associate dean for professional development. During her time in this position, she formed a highly successful campus-wide professional development team that offers a multitude of services and programs within the areas of research, teaching, career and ethics, including training in grant and fellowship writing, career preparation, teaching preparedness, and the responsible conduct of research.

Now as head administrator of the Graduate School, Dr. Carlson oversees all aspects of Graduate School administration, as well as the newly established Office of Postdoctoral Scholars and the Moreau Academic Diversity Postdoctoral Fellows Program. She works closely with the associate deans for graduate education from the University’s colleges of Arts and Letters, Engineering, and Science, as well as with the deans of Architecture, the Law School, and the Mendoza College of Business and the University’s Vice President for Research.

Within the Department of Psychology, which she joined in 1994, Dr. Carlson has served as director of graduate studies and associate chair. Her primary research interest is spatial cognition — how we mentally represent the places and objects around us—and she has won grants from the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation in support of this work. She directs the Department of Psychology’s Spatial Language & Spatial Cognition Lab.

Dr. Carlson received her bachelor’s degree from Dartmouth College, her master’s from Michigan State University, and her doctorate from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is currently an associate editor for Cognitive Psychology, and is a past associate editor for Memory & Cognition and Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. In 2005, she co-edited the Oxford University Press volume Functional Features in Language and Space.

As a teacher, Dr. Carlson has been recognized on multiple occasions at Notre Dame: twice with a Kaneb Teaching Award and then again with a Rev. Edmund P. Joyce, C.S.C., Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Teaching.

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