Elena L. Grigorenko, Ph.D., has been designated the inaugural Emily Fraser Beede Associate Professor for Developmental Disabilities. Grigorenko’s research focuses on understanding how genetic and environmental risk factors contribute to developmental and learning disabilities in children.

She is particularly interested in how children with special needs, such as those infected with intestinal parasites or diagnosed with autism, succeed by capitalizing on their strengths. Her work in this area has contributed to a greater understanding of the flexibility and malleability of human development, and the way children grow and mature. Using diverse methodologies, ranging from molecular genetics to cultural studies to family and educational intervention designs, Grigorenko has conducted research on international adoptees who were brought to the United States when young; the rates of learning disabilities in harsh environments with high rates of illness, intoxication, and poverty; and the interactions between genetic and environmental factors for conduct problems. She is especially interested in studying the risk factors for language and reading disabilities, autism, and criminal behaviors in pre-adolescent children. Grigorenko has worked with children and their families in Africa, India, Saudi Arabia, and Russia.

The author, co-author, or editor of more than 300 articles, book chapters, and books, Grigorenko has received awards for her work from five different divisions of the American Psychological Association (APA). Her other honors include the Gardner Lindzey Dissertation Award in General Psychology, the Sigmund Koch Early Career Award in Theoretical and Philosophical Psychology, and the Berlyne Early Career Award for Creative Achievement in Psychology of the Arts. In 2004, she won the APA Distinguished Award for an Early Career Contribution to Developmental Psychology.

Grigorenko earned a doctorate in general psychology at Moscow State University in Russia, and in 1996 earned a second doctorate at Yale in developmental psychology and genetics. She joined the School of Medicine faculty in 2002 with affiliations in the Department of Psychology, the Child Study Center, and the Department of Epidemiology and Public Health. Since 2008, she has served as director of the Yale Academic Skills Clinic. She is also an adjunct professor at Teachers College, Columbia University, and in the psychology department at Moscow State University.