Rachel Thibodeau-Nielsen

  • Associate Professor
  • HDFS Undergraduate Honors Program Coordinator
  • Isabelle Wade Lyda and Paul C. Lyda Professor

Dr. Rachel Thibodeau-Nielsen earned her PhD in Developmental Science and Cognitive Psychology with a minor in statistics from the University of Alabama in 2017.  Dr. Thibodeau-Nielsen’s research focuses on enhancing children’s school readiness and overall well-being by identifying mechanisms and developing interventions to improve cognitive and socio-emotional skills among preschoolers, particularly those who experience adversity in early childhood.

Her primary interest is to examine play as a mechanism for development in early childhood. Her work shows that imaginative or pretend play — which involves cooperation, flexible thinking, shared emotions and support among peers and adults — can lay the foundation for the skills children need to be successful in school, work, and life.

Areas of Expertise

  • School readiness
  • Early childhood
  • Children’s play
  • Executive function
  • Research at HDFS