Laura Claxton headshot photo

Pronouns: she/her

Phone: 765-496-2293


Lambert, Room 304
800 West Stadium Ave

Curriculum Vitae Selected Publications Back to Directory

Laura Claxton

Associate Professor, Department of Health and Kinesiology

Courtesy Appointments

Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences

Areas of Expertise

  • Motor Development

HHS Signature Research Area(s)

  • Developmental Health and Wellness

Department of Health and Kinesiology Research Area(s)

  • Biomechanics, Motor Control and Motor Development


Dr. Claxton investigates 1) the factors that impact how infants and young children learn to balance (such as learning to sit, stand and walk) and 2) identifies the mechanisms through which balance abilities lead to developmental changes in other developmental domains (such as cognitive and language abilities). For example, when infants first start to stand and walk, they are very unstable and fall a lot. This instability is often attributed to factors such as poor balance abilities, weak muscles, and an underdeveloped brain. However, Dr. Claxton’s research has demonstrated that if you give infants a toy to hold onto, they are able to stand three times longer and demonstrate more advanced control over their balance. These findings challenge traditional views of postural development and improvements in stability, which focus on more maturational and physiological explanations and demonstrate that infants are more advanced in their balance control than previously thought.

Current projects include exploring fall behavior in infants, and how object-interactions impact infant gait. Dr. Claxton is also a member of an interdisciplinary research team funded by a grant from the Environmental Protection Agency which is investigating how transitioning from crawling to walking can affect children’s health. Dr. Claxton’s lab is also a data collection site for the PLAY project, a nationwide, interdisciplinary, NIH funded project, whose goal is to develop a data set from across the country documenting the behaviors of infants and mothers during natural activity in their homes. The data from all of the sites will be combined (over 900+ infants and mothers) for collaborative analysis to a variety of research questions.


  • PhD, 2007, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
  • MS, 2022, University of Massachusetts at Amherst
  • BA, 1998, University of Oregon


Social Media Accounts

Current Courses

  • HK 253 - Principles of Motor Development
  • HK 453 - Motor Coordination and Development

Selected Honors/Awards

  • Outstanding Undergraduate Teaching Award, Department of Health and Kinesiology - 2019

Selected Grants

  • Co-Primary Investigator, Development, Behavioral & Environmental Determinants of Infant Dust Ingestion. Environmental Protection Agency (84020291-0). Karen Adolph, Brandon Boor, Alexander Laskin (co-PIs). Period: 9/1/2021 - 8/31/2024.
  • Co-Investigator, Play & Learning Across a Year (PLAY). National Institute of Child Health & Human Development (R01 HD094830-01). Karen Adolph, Rick Gilmore, & Catherine Tamis-Lemonda (PIs). Period: 8/15/2018 - 5/31/23.

Professional Affiliations

  • North American Society for the Psychology of Sport and Physical Activity (NASPSPA), Secretary-Treasurer/ Board of Directors 2020 - 2022
  • International Congress of Infant Studies (ICIS)
  • Purdue HK University Senator 2017 - 2023