Mary Helen Immordino-Yang

Mary Helen Immordino-Yang (Ed.D., Harvard University), Fahmy and Donna Attallah Professor of Humanistic Psychology, is a professor of education, psychology, and neuroscience at the University of Southern California and founding director of the USC Center for Affective Neuroscience, Development, Learning and Education (

Her work pairs in-depth qualitative interviews with longitudinal brain imaging and psychophysiological recording to reveal coordinated mental, neural, and bodily processes by which adolescents and their teachers build meaning—deliberating on the abstract, systems-level, and ethical implications of complex information, social situations, and identities. Her research underscores the active role youth play in their own brain and psychosocial development through the narratives they construct, and capacities teachers cultivate to support student belonging and deep learning. She conducts her work in partnership with expert educators and diverse youth from the low-SES communities where she works.

She writes and speaks extensively on the implications for redesigning schools around curiosity and civic reasoning to promote intellectual vibrance and thriving. She is the author of Emotions, Learning and the Brain: Exploring the Educational Implications of Affective Neuroscience, published by W.W. Norton & Co. in 2015 and translated into five languages. The Mandarin translation was the 157th best seller in China in December 2020.

She has received numerous awards for her research and impact on society, including from the AAAS, the PNAS editorial board, the AERA, APS, FABBS, IMBES, the US Army, and others. She served on the National Academies committee writing How People Learn II, as a distinguished scientist on the Aspen Institute’s National Commission on Social, Emotional, and Academic Development, and was a Spencer Foundation midcareer fellow. Elected to the National Academy of Education in 2023.