Robert Duncan headshot photo

Pronouns: he/him

Phone: 765-494-3312


Hanley 247
1202 Mitch Daniels Blvd.

Curriculum Vitae Selected Publications Back to Directory

Robert Duncan

Assistant Professor, Department of Human Development and Family Science

Associate Director for Policy, Center for Families

Courtesy Appointments

Department of Public Health

Areas of Expertise

  • Early childhood development, interventions, and policies
  • Language environments
  • Executive function
  • Academic achievement
  • Statistical methods (e.g., longitudinal modeling, multilevel modeling, and structural equation modeling)

HHS Signature Research Area(s)

  • Developmental Health and Wellness

Department of Human Development and Family Science Research Area(s)

  • Early Childhood Education and Care
  • Health and Well-Being


I joined the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and the Department of Public Health at Purdue as an Assistant Professor in the fall of 2017. Prior to joining Purdue, I received a Ph.D. in Human Development and Family Studies and a M.P.H. (in Biostatistics) from Oregon State University in 2015, and completed a two-year postdoctoral fellowship at the University of California, Irvine. I have an interdisciplinary background (i.e., lifespan psychology, life course sociology, family studies, public health, and education) and extensive quantitative training that inform my research. Broadly, my research is focused on understanding the connections between children’s early environments and their development of school readiness skills (e.g., language abilities, self-regulation, executive function, academic achievement). I am particularly interested in the role that education interventions and policies can play in fostering successful development in order to reduce academic, health, and economic inequalities. My quantitative interests are primarily in longitudinal and multilevel modeling, structural equation modeling, and causal inference.


Potentially accepting graduate student applications for the December 1, 2023 deadline.


  • Ph.D., 2015, Human Development and Family Studies, Oregon State University
  • Master of Public Health (Biostatistics), 2015, Oregon State University
  • M.S., 2012, Human Development and Family Studies, Oregon State University
  • B.S., 2009, Psychology, University of Florida


Diversity, Equity and Inclusion


Current Courses

  • PUBH 601 - Introduction to Quantitative Methods of Public Health
  • HDFS 590 - Regression
  • HDFS 625 - Child and Family Social Policy
  • PUBH 546 - Child and Family Health Policy

Selected Honors/Awards

  • Teaching for Tomorrow Award Junior Fellow, Purdue University - 2019-2020
  • Clifford B. Kinley Trust Award, Purdue University - 2019-2020
  • Purdue Research Foundation Research Grant - 2020-2021
  • AERA-SRCD Early Career Fellow in Early Childhood Education and Development - 2017-2018

Selected Grants

  • Co-Principal Investigator, Evaluation of the On My Way Prekindergarten Expansion. State of Indiana. Sara A. Schmitt (PI). Period: 7/01/18 - 6/30/23. Total: $1,193,243.
  • Co-Investigator, Examining Potential Causal Connections and Mechanisms between Children's Block Play and Mathematics Learning. National Science Foundation. Sara A. Schmitt (PI). Period: 9/01/20 - 8/31/23. Total: $1,347,370.
  • Co-Investigator, My Math Stories: Taking My Place in Our Mathematical World. New Schools Venture Fund. David J. Purpura (PI). Period: 8/01/20 - 7/31/23. Total: $2,000,000.