John Colombo, Ph.D.

Director, Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies

1000 Sunnyside Avenue

1052 Dole Human Development Center


Professor, Department of Psychology

1415 Jayhawk Boulevard

426 Fraser Hall



Other Contact Information:


Wakarusa Research Facility laboratory

(785) 312-5345

Edwards Campus laboratory

(785) 864-8590

Carlson/Colombo laboratory, Smith Center, KU Med Center

(913) 588-5743




I received my PhD in Psychology (1981) from the State University of New York at Buffalo. After one year at Youngstown State University (1981-1982), and six years (1982-1988) as a research associate with the Bureau of Child Research at the University of Kansas, I joined the faculty of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences at the University of Kansas in 1988, and have been a member of the Department of Psychology since January of 2002.



My research interests are in the developmental cognitive neuroscience of attention and learning, with a special focus on early individual differences in these areas and how they relate to the typical and atypical development of cognitive and intellectual function. I conduct research in laboratories at the KU Edwards Campus and the KU Medical Center, as well as at the Wakarusa Research Facility in Lawrence.


Students and Postdocs

I generally admit students interested in pursuing a graduate degree in my laboratory through the Developmental or Cognitive doctoral programs in the Department of Psychology. However, I also advise students in the Child Language Doctoral Program and in Clinical Child Psychology.



A list of my publications (most with links to .pdf files for direct downloads) can be accessed by visiting my profile at ResearchGate.



Administrative Duties, Service, and Other Affiliations


My administrative responsibilities at the University of Kansas also include:

Director of the Schiefelbusch Institute for Life Span Studies

Director and Principal Investigator, University of Kansas Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Center (KIDDRC).


My primary faculty appointment is in the Department of Psychology, but I am also affiliated with the following interdisciplinary programs:

Child Language Doctoral Program

Clinical Child Psychology Doctoral Program

Neurosciences Doctoral Program


National Service


Member of the International Congress of Infant Studies (ICIS)

Secretary of ICIS, 2010-2013

Editor, Infancy, the flagship journal for ICIS, 2013-2018

Associate Editor for Child Development, the flagship journal of the Society for Research in Child Development (SRCD), 2006-2013

Fellow, American Psychological Association (Division 7: Developmental Psychology)

Charter Member and Fellow, Association for Psychological Science

Member, Psychonomic Society


Current Projects


Principal Investigator (with Peter G. Smith) , Kansas intellectual and developmental disabilities research center. National Institutes of Health (Eunice Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development), P30 HD02528. This is a core grant to serve investigators at the University of Kansas and University of Kansas Medical Center who conduct research related or relevant to developmental disabilities. For more information, click here.


Co-Principal Investigator (with Susan Carlson), DHA supplementation and pregnancy outcome. National Institutes of Health: Eunice Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, 2R01 HD047315. This is a clinical trial designed to study the effects of prenatal supplementation with DHA on cognitive development through childhood. Our recent application to renew this project was funded to follow this cohort through age 6.


I am also involved in three clinical trials funded by industry.



I have taught a number of courses in various departments at the University of Kansas,

and continue to teach courses as my other duties allow.








PSYC 318

Cognitive Psychology

Fall 2007


PSYC 333

Child Psychology

Spring 2007


PSYC 430

Cognitive Development (undergraduate)

Fall 2001


PSYC 480

Independent Study

Fall 2008


BIOL 449

Laboratory/Fieldwork in Human Biology

Fall 2008


PSYC 770

Cognitive Development (graduate)

Spring 2011


SPLH 764

Infant Development (with N. Brady and S. Barlow)

Spring 2007


PSYC 800

Developmental Cognitive Neuroscience

Spring 2010


PSYC 800

Cognition in Infancy

Spring 2003


PSYC 815

Design and Analysis for Developmental Research

Fall 2008



Current Graduate Students and Postdocs

Lori Curtindale, MA (Developmental Psychology)

Leah Kapa, MA (Child Language)

Sara McElhaney (Developmental Psychology)

Caitlin Brez, PhD (NRSA Postdoctoral Trainee)

Brenda Salley, PhD (NRSA Postdoctoral Trainee)


Past Students and Postdocs currently in academic/research/clinical positions

Janet Frick, PhD, Associate Professor of Psychology, University of Georgia, Athens, GA

Terrill Saxon, PhD, Associate Professor and Chair of Educational Psychology, Baylor University, Waco, TX

Jeff Coldren, PhD, Professor of Psychology, Youngstown State University, Youngstown, OH

W. Allen Richman, PhD, Director of Outcomes Assessment and Institutional Effectiveness, Prince George County Community College, Upper Marlboro, MD

Kathleen N. Kannass, Associate Professor of Psychology, Loyola University of Chicago, Chicago, IL

Carol Cheatham, Assistant Professor of Psychology, University of North Carolina Nutrition Research Institute, Kannapolis, NC

Audra Sterling, PhD, Assistant Professor of Communicative Disorders, University of Wisconsin, Madison, WI

Christa J. Anderson, PhD, Chicago, IL.

Brandon Aylward, PhD, Assistant Professor, Childrens Pediatric Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, GA

Leah Kapa, PhD, Research Associate, Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Sciences, University of Arizona, Tucson, AZ

Lori Curtindale, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Eastern Carolina University, Greenville, NC

Caitlin Brez, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Indiana State University, Terre Haute, IN

Brenda Salley, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of Kansas Medical Center, Kansas City, KS