Dr. Petersen joined the Center for Human Growth and Development in January, 2010, and is working on the development of a research training program in global health. She is also developing research proposals on global health issues including a multinational study of the developmental processes in various domains of children with AIDS. An additional project within the CHGD involves the creation of a web-based collaboration platform permitting mobile access to support mulitnational research collaboration. Prior to coming to CHGD, Petersen was Deputy Director of the Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS), and Professor of Psychology, Stanford University.
Dr. Petersen is the founder and President of the Global Philanthropy Alliance, a public foundation that makes grants to support young social entrepreneurs in Africa. She was the Senior Vice President for Programs and Corporate Officer at the W.K. Kellogg Foundation of Battle Creek, Michigan. Throughout her career, Petersen has served as a consultant to a number of foundations, including The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, the Carnegie Corporation of New York, and the Lilly Endowment Inc.
Previously, Dr. Petersen was the Deputy Director and Chief Operating Officer of the National Science Foundation (NSF), then a $3.6 billion federal research agency with 1,300 employees. Before NSF, she was the first Vice-President for Research, as well as Dean of the Graduate School and Professor of Adolescent Development, and of Pediatrics, at the University of Minnesota. She went to Minnesota from Penn State University, where she was the founding Dean of the College of Health of Human Development, and before that head of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies; she was Professor of Human Development, then Professor of Health and Human Development when she became Dean.
She has authored more than a dozen books and over 250 articles on adolescent and gender issues, evaluation, health, adolescent development, higher education, policy, and philanthropy. Among her roles in service to science and society, Petersen serves on or chairs a number of Boards. She chaired a Board of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), and served on a NAS/Institute of Medicine Forum. She is a member of the Institute of Medicine, National Academies, and serves/d on a number of Boards and Committees. She is a founding member of the Society for Research on Adolescence, was president and a council member. She is the Past President of the International Society for the Study of Behavioral Development, and of Developmental Psychology/American Psychological Association, and is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychological Society. She is the recipient of numerous scientific and policy awards.
Petersen earned, all from the University of Chicago, a bachelor's degree in mathematics, a master's degree in statistics, and a doctorate in measurement, evaluation, and statistical analysis. She is a native of Little Falls, Minnesota.