Pamela Cole '72

Pamela Cole has spent her career dedicated to child clinical and developmental psychology, devoting her life to ensuring better emotional health for children.

Her first steps into this important field began as an undergraduate psychology major studying at Mercy College. Upon her graduation, she moved to Virginia with a friend and fellow Mercy alumna, Mary Carol Metz. There she accepted a position at the then-newly opened Northern Virginia Training Center for the Mentally Retarded. She spent two years at this residential facility as a team leader, assisting people with mental and physical challenges. Here, Pamela came to appreciate the humanity of all children and how each child develops at their own rate.

In 1975, Pamela was ready to continue her education, specializing in the integration of clinical and developmental psychology. Pursuing this path, she received an MA at the College of William and Mary in 1977 and later a Ph.D. at The Pennsylvania State University in University Park, PA in 1980.

Her first faculty position upon receiving her doctorate was as an assistant professor in the Department of Psychology at the University of Houston, where she remained until she began her work at the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) in Bethesda, Maryland. At this lead research agency, Pamela became a senior staff fellow at the Laboratory of Developmental Psychology. During these years, Pamela became known for her research documenting that preschool-age children (ages 3 through 5 years) begin to regulate their own emotions, e.g., masking disappointment, depending on who is present.

Pamela returned to teach at Penn State in the mid-90s, becoming a Fulbright Scholar. As part of her Fulbright grant, Pamela studied the emotional development of Nepalese children, working in partnership with Tribhuvan University in Nepal as a host institution. She has served in various academic leadership roles beginning as the director of graduate training at Penn State, as director of Penn State Child Study Center for three years, and subsequently served as the director of the Integrative Research Training Program in Early Childhood Mental Health for another eight years.

In her more than 45-year career, Pamela has authored or co-authored over 90 publications.

She remains a beloved faculty member at Penn State and is currently leading five research projects. Among several honors during her time as a faculty member, she has received the Faculty Scholar Medal at Penn State and Fellow status in the American Psychological Association (Developmental Psychology).