Dr. A. Nayena Blankson is a Full Professor in the psychology department at Spelman College. She is originally from Winneba, Ghana. She graduated summa cum laude with a B.A. in psychology and minor in mathematical sciences from Loyola College in Maryland (now Loyola University Maryland) in 2001. She earned her Ph.D. in quantitative psychology from the University of Southern California. Her primary advisor was the late Dr. John L. Horn. She also worked with Dr. Rand Wilcox. After completing her Ph.D., Dr. Blankson spent two years as a Post-doctoral Research Fellow at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro where she specialized in child development research.
Dr. Blankson joined the faculty at Spelman College in 2009. She was promoted to Associate Professor, with tenure, in 2015. Dr. Blankson was promoted to Full Professor in 2019 (before age 40!) and is among the ranks of the very few Black women Full Professors in the US.
Dr. Blankson is the recipient of several grants to support her research and grants to support training of students, including grants from the National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Health. Dr. Blankson is the director of the Cognition and Temperament (CAT) Lab at Spelman (Research funded by NIH R15HD077511, NSF Award #1832090, and NIH R01MD016085); and she is the Director of the INSPIRE U2 summer REU site (NSF Award #1852056). Since 2018, Dr. Blankson has served as Program Director of the Spelman RISE Program (NIH 5R25GM060566), joining Dr. Dolores Bradley Brennan.
Dr. Blankson's research has been published in journals such as Child Development, Early Education and Development, and Learning and Instruction, among others. Dr. Blankson has won awards for her teaching and research, including the Vulcan Materials Company Teaching Excellence Award in 2012 and Spelman's Presidential Award for Excellence in Scholarship in 2014. She is an elected member of the Society for Multivariate Experimental Psychology. Dr. Blankson is a 2022 recipient of the Spencer Mentor Award from the Spencer Foundation, and an invited Full Member of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Honor Society. She is a consultant or advisory board member for several grants and organizations, and she is a certified Data Carpentries instructor. Her computer skills include Mplus, SPSS, R, and Microsoft Office, among others.
Dr. Blankson's quantitative interests include psychometrics, multivariate methods, moderated mediation, the design of psychological research, and structural equation modeling. Her substantive research is focused on cognition, emotion regulation, and classroom experiences as moderators and mediators of early academic achievement. She has consulted on research examining pubertal development, college student friendship formation, dyadic relationships among couples, and maternal depression, among other projects. She is available for speaking or consulting engagements.