Emma Armstrong-Carter

As children go about their day at home and at school, their bodies respond to environmental experiences. In particular, children’s bodies respond via changes in stress- physiology, the physiological systems which maintain homeostasis and adapt to contextual stimuli. My research program centers around children’s stress-physiology. I investigate (1) How children’s experiences at home (e.g., parent child relationships, family structures, routines) are associated with variability in their stress-physiology; and (2) How children’s physiological responses in turn are associated with their positive school-related adaptation (e.g., positive peer relationships, self-regulated behavior, cognitive skills, academic achievement).

My goal is to elucidate the environmental predictors and developmental consequences of children’s physiological responses to their daily environments. To index stress-physiology, I use measures of the autonomic nervous system (including sympathetic and parasympathetic branches), and hypothalamic pituitary adrenal axis (which regulates levels of the hormone cortisol). Building on prior research which has focused on macro-level predictors of children’s stress physiology (e.g., family socio-economic status, ongoing experiences of severe adversity or maltreatment), I focus on smaller-scale, normative, daily experiences (e.g., family structures, relationships, and routines). My research is grounded in a positive youth development framework (Lerner, Phelps, Forman, & Bowers, 2009), highlighting children’s strengths and abilities to contribute to the lives of others (e.g., by helping peers and family, and engaging positively with in the classroom).

Beginning in the Summer of 2021, I will be entering the academic job market for assistant professor positions at research universities. If you are interested in my work, please contact me at emmaac@stanford.edu!

Programs and projects:

Faculty advisors: 

Jelena Obradović, and Ben W. Domingue


Ph.D., Stanford University expected 2022
Developmental and Psychological Sciences, Graduate School of Education
Minor in Data Science
Certificate in Research Practice Partnerships (2022)

B.A., University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill (UNC) (2016)
Psychology & Neuroscience; Geographic Information Science, cum laude

Contact info: 

Center for Education Policy Analysis
Stanford University
520 Galvez Mall Stanford, CA 94305