Larissa DuncanElizabeth C. Davies Chair in Child and Family Well-Being | Professor of Human Development & Family Studies

Dr. Duncan’s research and outreach is focused on multi-level systems change to promote health equity and well-being. She is internationally recognized for her development of a framework to promote and assess mindful parenting, as well as her work to bring mindfulness and compassion training to medical, school, and community contexts. Dr. Duncan employs mixed methods to study the biopsychosocial pathways through which contemplative practices may support healthy child and family development as enhancements to other evidence-based strategies for prevention and lifecourse health promotion. She is committed to improving the cultural relevance of these approaches in partnership with global majority communities. At UW–Madison, she directs the AWARE (Awareness, Well-Being, and Resilience for Equity) Research Lab. Dr. Duncan has received research funding from the National Institutes of Health (National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health and National Institute on Drug Abuse), as well as private donors and foundations, to support these efforts.

Dr. Duncan mentors graduate students and postdoctoral scholars working in the areas of prevention science, maternal-child health, and reproductive justice using community-based and participatory action research methods. Current research projects include: testing an anti-racist parenting training for families of young children (as co-PI with Dr. Margaret Kerr), improving public health and primary care practices with Latino/e/x and Indigenous immigrant communities (with Cooperativa Raíces para el Cambio and Public Health Madison & Dane County), and examining bidirectional linkages between nature/natural environments and human health and well-being across the lifespan (with the Division of Extension’s Natural Resources Institute and Health and Well-Being Institute).

Dr. Duncan will be accepting applications from Human Development & Family Studies MS/PhD candidates for Fall 2024 enrollment, and she welcomes nontraditional and first-generation college students.

Selected Publications

Duncan, L. G., Zhang, N., Santana, T., Cook, J. G., Castro-Smyth, L., Hutchison, M. S., Huynh, T., Mallareddy, D., Jurkiewicz, L., & Bardacke, N. (2023). Enhancing prenatal group medical visits with mindfulness skills: A pragmatic trial with Latina and BIPOC pregnant women experiencing multiple forms of structural inequity. Mindfulness, 1-20.

Zhang, D., Tsang, K., Duncan, L. G., Yip, B., Chan, D., Lee, E., Gao, T., Tam, W., Lam, K., Tong, W., Bardacke, N., & Wong, S. (2023). Effects of the Mindfulness-Based Childbirth and Parenting (MBCP) Program Among Pregnant Women: A Randomized Controlled Trial. Mindfulness, 14(1), 50-65.

Corthorn, C., Duncan, L. G., Manzi, J., & Pedrero, V. (2022). Propiedades psicométricas de la versión en español de la Escala de Atención Plena (Mindfulness) Interpersonal en la Parentalidad en madres de preescolares en Chile. CES Psicología, 15(2), 44-60.

For a complete list of publications, see Duncan’s Google Scholar profile. CV available upon request.

A woman smiling, with shoulder-length dark hair, wearing a dark V-neck shirt.


  • Human Development & Family Studies

Degree Program

  • BS Human Development & Family Studies
  • PhD Human Ecology: Human Development & Family Studies



  • PhD and MS, Human Development & Family Studies, Penn State University


Office: 4140 Nancy Nicholas Hall

Phone: 608-263-4026