Dr. Vallotton


Claire D. Vallotton, Ph.D.

Position Display

Professor and Director of Graduate Studies

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  • Ph.D. Human Development, University of California
  • B.A. Psychology, Simpson College

Areas of Interest

  • Infants and toddlers
  • Infant signs / symbolic gestures
  • Parenting
  • Cultural socialization
  • Socioemotional and language development
  • Quantitative observational methodology

Accepting Applications for Graduate Students for the 2024-2025 Academic Year

Dr. Claire D. Vallotton followed her Ph.D. and was a Faculty Fellow at UC Davis, after which she won the Ruth L. Kirschstein Clinical Research Service Award from the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development to study as a postdoctoral fellow at the Harvard Graduate School of Education; the title of her NICHD-funded study was “Symbol and Social Skills in Typical and At-Risk Children.” Dr. Vallotton has also been awarded the New Investigator Award from the World Association of Infant Mental Health, the Award of Distinction for Young Alumni from the College of Agriculture and Environmental Sciences at UC Davis, and was named an Exceptional Emerging Leader in child care research from ChildCare Exchange. She is the founding coordinator of the Collaborative for Understanding the Pedagogy of Infant/Toddler Development (CUPID). CUPID is a group of more than 50 scholars from more than 30 universities who have joined together to understand how to better prepare preservice child development students for future careers in early childhood education and development. Our ultimate goal is to improve practice in the field of infant/toddler care and education by improving our own teaching and preparation of preservice child development university students. Learn more at

Vallotton’s general research interests are the early development and integration of cognitive-linguistic and social-emotional skills within the context of caregiver-child relationships, family risks, and culture. She has expertise in infants’ use of symbolic gestures – a.k.a. infant signs – and uses infant signing to gain insight into infants’ internal worlds, and the effects of early symbol skills on later development. Dr. Vallotton conducts translational research to improve the quality of training for the early child care and education workforce and provide parents with effective tools support their children's development of social-emotional and communication skills.