Dr. Margaret Tresch Owen

Professor and director of the Center for Children and Families

Robinson Family Professor

Owen's research focuses on children's development in the context of family relationships, as well as the implications of maternal employment and early child care experiences for children's later development and relationships. In the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) nationwide study, the investigators gathered information on child care environments, homes, families, school experiences, peer experiences and individual differences among children in understanding trajectories of children's development and influences of these experiences in their lives.

In the Dallas Child Care Project, Owen and her team studied developmental effects of child care programming supporting close caregiver-child relationships for low-income, ethnically diverse children in Dallas.

Owen studies links within and across environmental contexts of children's development. Within the family, she studies parent-child and husband-wife relationships. Her current research involves a longitudinal study of preschoolers' self-regulation skills, parenting characteristics that support development of these skills and their links with school readiness. The study is following 400 children from low-income families in the Dallas area.

As director of the UT Dallas Center for Children and Families in the School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences, Owen helps promote optimal child development through enhanced research, practice and outreach. The center offers an array of clinical and community outreach activities, organized around three initiatives: parenting healthy families, strengthening interpersonal relationships, and enhancing thinking and learning.

Owen earned a bachelor's degree in psychology from Oberlin College and a master's degree in human development from the University of Kansas. She earned a doctorate in developmental psychology from the University of Michigan.

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Dr. Margaret Tresch Owen

School of Behavioral and Brain Sciences


The chair was established anonymously in 2010 to honor UT System Chancellor Francisco G. Cigarroa, and to support the research and scholarly activities of the director of the Center for Children and Families. Owen was chosen to fill the chair in December 2010.


Owen was a member of a National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) investigative team responsible for conducting a longitudinal study of the effects of early child care on more than 1,300 children and their families. The project, which tracked children from birth through adolescence, is regarded as one of the most definitive studies of its kind, and its data sets continue to provide new insights into children's health and well-being.


"My work for 20 years on the NICHD Study of Early Child Care and Youth Development had a great impact on my career, bringing about rich collaborations with wonderful colleagues. I've extended this work providing consultations with numerous teams of researchers, both nationally and internationally, in assessing qualities of parent-child interactions from infancy through adolescence."