ICIS History & Leadership

Dues paying members of the International Congress of Infant Studies elect the society’s Officers and Members-at-Large who are responsible for running the society according to the society’s bylaws

The origins of the International Congress of Infant Studies can be traced back to the early 1960s, when, as described by ICIS historians B.Z. Karmel and J.M. Gardner, a small group of psychologists, pediatricians, psychiatrists and neurologists studying infant development decided to hold a meeting to discuss the latest research. Because most of the participants also belonged to the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), the infant-focused meeting was planned so as to meet in the off-year from the SRCD biennial meeting. The Committee met biannually in this way for about the next decade and a half, inviting a few new members each year to address the group. By the late 1970s, at a time when the field of infancy research was enjoying a popularity explosion, the number of researchers interested in attending the biennial CRI meetings outpaced the CRI’s capacity to handle them. Thus, the first meeting of the International Congress of Infants Studies was held in Providence, RI in 1978. From its very beginnings, ICIS has reflected an interdisciplinary approach to basic and applied studies of infant development. And importantly, it has always encouraged student participation – most members started as students. ICIS has also attempted to maintain a strong international orientation as international members were among the originals, and have meetings at international locations at least every 6 years.

Executive Committee

President Lisa Oakes University of California, Davis
President-Elect Catherine Tamis-LeMonda New York University
Past-President Kathy Hirsh-Pasek Temple University
Treasurer Roberta Golinkoff University of Delaware
Secretary Rachel Barr Georgetown University

Past Presidents

  1. USAPHILADELPHIA June 2018 – Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, President
  2. USANEW ORLEANS May 2016 – Karen Adolph, President
  3. GermanyBERLIN July 2014 – Daphne Maurer, President
  4. USAMINNEAPOLIS June 2012 – Dick Aslin, President
  5. USABALTIMORE March 2010 – David Lewkowicz, President
  6. CanadaVANCOUVER March 2008 – Les Cohen, President
  7. JapanKYOTO July 2006 – Joe Campos, President
  8. USACHICAGO May 2004
  9. CanadaTORONTO April 2002 – Arnold Sameroff, President
  10. UKBRIGHTON July 2000 – Rachel Keen, President
  11. USAATLANTA April 1998 – Esther Thelen, President
  12. USAPROVIDENCE April 1996 – Carolyn Rovee-Collier, President
  13. FrancePARIS June 1994 – Tiffany Field, President
  14. USAMIAMI May 1992
  15. CanadaMONTREAL April 1990
  16. USAWASHINGTON DC April 1988
  17. USALOS ANGELES April 1986
  18. USANEW YORK April 1984
  19. USAAUSTIN April 1982
  20. USANEW HAVEN April 1980
  21. USAPROVIDENCE April 1978


Scott Johnson (2014 – 2020) University of California Los Angeles
Reiko Mazuka (2016 – 2020) Riken Brain Institute
Thierry Nazzi (2016 – 2020) Paris Descartes University
Jane Herbert (2016 – 2022) University of Wollongong
Marianella Casasola (2018 – 2024) Cornell University
Sandra Waxman (2018 – 2024) Northwestern University

ICIS Committees

Chaired by Natasha Kirkham

Chaired by Past-President, Kathy Hirsh-Pasek

Chaired by Secretary, Rachel Barr
Editor of Infancy, Gavin Bremner

Chaired by Sam Putnam, Martha Arterbery

Chaired by President, Lisa Oakes

Chaired by Scott Johnson

Chaired by Jane Herbert

Chair TBC

Chaired by Catherine Tamis-LeMonda


Marischal De Armond

Jude Ross & Michelle Smith

ICIS Statements


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Separation of Migrant Children

Scientific statement by ISDP and ICIS on U.S. government practice of separating migrant children from their parents at the border

Isolating children from their caregivers and families leads to abnormal development by creating physiological and psychological trauma. The scientific study of child development suggests that the newly announced policy of the Trump administration of separating children from parents is likely to have both negative immediate physiological effects on the developing stress system and long-term effects both psychological and physiological as well.  Decades of work on children separated from families and placed into institutions support this science.


On April 19, 2018 U.S. Attorney General Jeffrey Sessions announced a change in U.S. policy where all immigrants entering illegally would be held in detention centers, and in so doing, all children would be separated from parents because children cannot be held in adult detention centers. This change in policy is a response to discourage immigrants due to a stated 37% increase in illegal border crossings.


Separating children from caregivers and placing families in situations of extreme uncertainty with respect to reunification is a form of toxic stress. This is not only a psychological, but also a physiological response. An experience of chronic or prolonged stress may lead to the development of anxiety disorders or mood disorders, such as depression. Individuals suffering from stress may also experience an inability to sleep, a decreased or increased appetite, a propensity towards alcohol or drug consumption, and a decreased interest in social or physical activities.


Separating young children from their families also has significant effects on the developing brain, which is highly influenced by childhood experiences. There are specific regions of the brain that continue to mature throughout adolescence and that are affected more extremely by stress particularly in early life. It is intuitive that stressful experiences shape changing systems more than systems that are already developed. The critical role of nurturing relationships for children has been identified as fundamental to normal human development and resilience. Young children depend on stable, responsive caregiving from adults they know well. A strong caregiver relationship can prevent or lessen the activation of the stress response through a process known as social buffering. Without effective parental social buffering, the normal development of the brain can be altered, with enduring adverse effects on children’s cognitive and emotional development.


Placing children in detention centers will put children at very high risk for poor mental and physical health outcomes. As a developmental organization with a global scope, in order to enhance productive and adaptive lives of all global citizens, especially the youngest, we urge the cessation the current policy of separation.

Members of the International Congress of Infant Studies (ICIS) may wish to view and sign an open letter to US Secretary Nielsen at the Department of Homeland Security in regards to the separation of children from their parents at the US southern border.

A Take Action letter was created by members of the ICIS and other similar communities and can be found by clicking here

The link above will direct you to a Take Action page with information on how to continue to amplify the message and it will continue to be updated as things process.

 ICIS Statement of Community

The International Congress of Infant Studies (ICIS) provides a context for the dissemination of research methods and findings on psychological development during infancy and early childhood and supports open intellectual discussion about theory, research, and practice. The Congress is committed to serving the needs of all ICIS members, inclusive of career stage, theoretical orientation, methodological practice, gender, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, physical appearance, ethnicity/race or country of origin, religion, and political views. ICIS expects all attendees at our meetings and events to treat each other with mutual respect.

Letter to NIH Regarding Clinical Trials

ICIS has written the following letter to NIH regarding Clinical Trials.  Please read through the letter and let NIH know your thoughts regarding their change in policy.  Special thank you to Lisa Oakes for drafting the response.


Kathy Hirsch-Pasek, President
Karen Adolph, Past President
Lisa Oakes, President Elect

Joint statement regarding President Trump’s executive order “Protecting the Nation From Foreign Terrorist Entry Into the United States”


We at the International Congress of Infant Studies, the Cognitive Development Society and the International Society for Developmental Psychobiology  hold that the pursuit of knowledge embodied by science is best served by engagement and interaction with all serious scholars regardless of national origin or creed. We are dismayed by any attempt to restrict opportunities for scientists to fully participate in global academic dialogue. Such efforts are immoral and they undermine the scientific enterprise. Understanding the complexity of human behavior requires us to explain how behavior varies across and within cultures.  Policy decisions aimed at helping all children thrive must therefore be based on science that is global and generalizable. We are committed to ensuring participation for scientists of all nations.

Kathy Hirsh-Pasek, President
Karen Adolph, Past President
Daphne Maurer, Past President
Lisa Oakes, President Elect
Rachel Barr,  Secretary
Roberta Golinkoff, Treasurer

CDS Logo
David Uttal, President
Amanda Woodward, Past President
Paul Lansley Harris, President Elect
David Sobel, Treasurer

Nathan Fox, President
April Ronca, Past President
Rachel Barr, President Elect