Sian Beilock
President, Barnard College, Columbia University | Author, "Choke" and "How Your Body Knows Its Mind"
Leadership & Ethics
Women in Leadership
Mental Health
Sian Beilock is the eighth President of Barnard College at ColumbiaUniversity. Sian is one of the world’s leading experts on the brain science behind performance anxiety and what simple psychological strategies will help to reshape and train our minds to work the way we want them to. She has a particular focus on how women and girls perform in leadership positions and has dedicated her research to explore how to ensure their success.

Professor Beilockserves as the President Barnard College at Columbia University, aninstitution devoted to educating and empowering young women, whereshe continues to raise the College’s eminence in math, science, andtechnology to parallel its renown in the arts and humanities.Previously, Beilock served as executive vice provost at theUniversity of Chicago, where she oversaw a range of functions andprojects, including the University of Chicago Press, the school’sengagement with its surrounding community and several significantbuilding projects.

She was elected by the Dartmouth Board of Trustees to be the 19th President of Dartmouth College. She becomes the first woman elected to the position in Dartmouth’s250-year history. Sian will take the helm on July 1, 2023.

Sian Beilock is the author of two books that have been published in more than a dozen languages — the critically acclaimed Choke: What the Secrets of the Brain Reveal about Getting It Right When You HaveTo, where she presents the latest neuroscience and psychology on what holds us back from working at our full potential and How theBody Knows Its Mind: The Surprising Power of the Physical Environment to Influence How You Think and Feel. Her TED talk, Why We ChokeUnder Pressure and How to Avoid It, has been viewed over 2 million times.

Her book, How The Body Knows Its Mind, provides insights on how we can leverage our bodies and our surroundings to perform at our best across the varied situations we face — at home, at work, at school and at play. Sian reveals how simple steps we take can have a big effect on whether we succeed or fail. More and more, neuroscience suggests that our brains do not stop changing as we age: they are continuously affected by our environments and our own patterns of thought. Sian believes that if we understand the science of the brain, we gain the power to reshape and train our minds to work the way we want them to.

Sian will educate about the way your mind works and with real strategies for improving results across the board in stressful situations. And when you ace that next presentation — thank Sian.

  • President-Elect, Dartmouth College (begins July 1, 2023)
  • President, Barnard College
  • Former Executive Vice Provost, Professor, Department of Psychology and Committee on Education, University of Chicago
  • Awarded the 2017 Troland Research Award, National Academy of Sciences
  • Young investigator awards from the Association for Psychological Science, Society of Experimental Psychologists, International Society of Sport Psychology, North American Society for Sport & Physical Activity
  • Ph.D., Kinesiology (sport psychology) Michigan State University
  • Ph.D., Cognitive Psychology, Michigan State University
  • BS, Cognitive Science, University of California, San Diego

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Why do the smartest students often do poorly on standardized tests? Why did you tank that interview or miss that golf swing when you should have had it in the bag?Why do you mess up when it matters the most — and how can you perform your best instead?
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Using insights from brain science to enhance productivity and create quality performances
When you are stuck on a problem, you are more likely to come up with the solution if you take a break rather than if continually toil away, beating your head against the wall. Psychologists call it the ’incubation effect.’ Taking a break is akin to rebooting a computer when it has frozen, dead ends are lost and you come back with a blank slate, more likely to find the solution. Beilock gives simple, science-driven tips, about how to perform at your best.
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Leadership and Communication in the Workplace
Simple things managers do, from putting the take-home point of an email in the first paragraph to helping to foster ’collective intelligence’ in their teams can make the difference between good vs. great performance. Beilock unpacks the latest thinking on best-practices for leadership and communication.
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Fostering team work — especially in times of crisis
The brain registers social pain much in the same way that it registers physical pain. This fact puts a whole new spin on how to develop teamwork. For instance, team-work exercises that help people feel more physically connected may help foster mental connectedness as well. Beilock unpacks the most recent brain science to help your group perform at its best.
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How to Perform Your Best Under Stress
What happens in our brain and body when we experience performance anxiety? What are we doing differently when everything clicks into place? And, what specific techniques should we utilize to ensure the best performance when it matters most? In an energetic tour of the latest brain science, Dr. Beilock explains why we all too often blunder when the stakes are high and — more importantly — what we can do to ensure that we put our best foot forward when the pressure is on. Leveraging social science research to create better thinkers, communicators, and performersOften times we know what to do, but not how to tell someone else how to do it — the ’curse of expertise.’ Putting together teams of people with varied knowledge and experience helps ensure everyone is on the same page. Beilock gives insights from social science research on creating the best teams and the best conditions to foster optimal individual and group performance.
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Brain Teasers: Cracking the Mind's Toughest Riddles
Sian Beilock
Perform You Best Under Stress | Harper Lecture
Sian Beilock
The Science of "Choking"
Sian Beilock
Using Bodies and Brains to Learn Science | University of Chicago
Sian Beilock
Prof. Block on athletes, choking and the Olympics | UChicago News
Sian Beilock
Why we choke under pressure — and how to avoid it | TEDMed 2017
Sian Beilock
The intended and unintended consequences of the #MeToo movement | 2019 Stavros Niarchos Foundation Conference
Sian Beilock
Conversation with Verna Myers ’82 | Barnard Alumnae Insights Series
Sian Beilock
How to Avoid Choking Under Pressure
Sian Beilock
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