Wednesday, March 2, 2016
The Rockefeller University
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller Hall
1230 York Avenue at East 66th Street

Angela Duckworth, Ph.D.
University of Pennsylvania
Paul Tough

While educators have long relied on intelligence testing for academic placement, a growing body of evidence is revealing that a person’s IQ or SAT score is not a reliable predictor of accomplishment in college and beyond. Given these findings, what are the best ways to help our children achieve their full potential in school and in life?

Angela Duckworth, Ph.D.Research by psychologist Angela Duckworth, Ph.D., a 2013 MacArthur Fellow, suggests that nurturing two character traits—grit and self-control—may be key to boosting achievement. At this Parents & Science lecture program, Dr. Duckworth, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and Founder of the Character Lab, will describe her findings and their fascinating implications. She will then be joined by Rockefeller University neuroscientist Bruce S. McEwen, Ph.D. for a discussion moderated by Paul Tough, author of the 2012 New York Times bestseller How Children Succeed: Grit, Curiosity, and the Hidden Power of Character.

Can grit and self-control be learned? Dr. Duckworth believes they can. Her initial studies of such varied populations as West Point cadets, National Spelling Bee finalists, novice teachers in tough schools, and Chicago public high school students found that successful individuals exhibit grit—a tendency to sustain interest in and effort toward long-term goals. They are also able to control their emotions, behaviors, and attentional impulses “in the presence of momentarily gratifying temptations or diversions.” Dr. Duckworth will discuss scientific work that hints at how these traits can be instilled and encouraged. Her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, will be published in May 2016.

Paul Tough is a contributing writer to The New York Times Magazine, where he has written extensively about education, parenting, poverty, and politics. He has worked as an editor at The New York Times Magazine and Harper’s Magazine and as a reporter and producer for the public radio program “This American Life.”

Bruce McEwen is Rockefeller University’s Alfred E. Mirsky Professor and head of the Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology. His research on stress has had a profound impact on our understanding of neurocognitive development. He is also the faculty advisor to the Parents & Science initiative.

Marc Tessier-Lavigne, Ph.D., Rockefeller University President and Carson Family Professor, will host the program.

The 2015-2016 Parents & Science lecture series has been generously underwritten by the Mortimer D. Sackler Foundation.

For more information, please contact Sasha Benson at (212) 327-8697 or

Richard Lifton, M.D., Ph.D.
The Rockefeller University

Parents & Science
Faculty Advisor

Bruce S. McEwen, Ph.D.
Alfred E. Mirsky Professor
Harold and Margaret Milliken Hatch
Laboratory of Neuroendocrinology

Parents & Science Leadership


Daniella Lipper Coules
Talbott Simonds

Steering Committee

Rebecca Anikstein
John Bernstein
Charles W. Caulkins
Karen de Saint Phalle
Blair Pillsbury Enders
Wendy Ettinger
Kathy Heinzelman
Tania Neild, Ph.D.
Ilona Nemeth
Marean Pompidou
Courtney Smith Rae
Loli Echavarria Roosevelt
Kimberly Kravis Schulhof
Roxy Zajac

Scientific Advisory Council

Evelyn Attia, M.D.
BJ Casey, Ph.D.
Myron Hofer, M.D.
Ilene Sackler Lefcourt
Margaret McCarthy, Ph.D.
Richard Nisbett, Ph.D.
Michael Thompson, Ph.D.

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