Keynote Speakers - Camilla Persson Benbow

Vanderbilt University

Camilla Persson Benbow

Camilla P. Benbow is Patricia and Rodes Hart Dean of Education and Human Development at Vanderbilt Peabody College of education and human development, which she has led since 1998. A scholar of talent identification and development, Benbow is the author or co-author of more than 100 articles and 39 book chapters. She co-directs the Study of Mathematically Precocious Youth (SMPY), a longitudinal study of 5,000 gifted individuals that recently marked its 50th year. Benbow is particularly interested in developing STEM talent, which was a focus of her service as a member of the National Science Board (2006-2012) and as vice-chair of the National Mathematics Advisory Panel (2006-2008). She is a Fellow of the American Psychological Association and the American Educational Research Association. Dean Benbow also has been honored with the International Award for Research from the World Council for Gifted and Talented Children (2019), the Lifetime Achievement Award of the International Society for Intelligence Research (2018), and the David Imig Award of the American Association for Colleges of Teacher Education (2010). Dean Benbow previously taught at Iowa State University and earned her doctorate in education from John Hopkins University.00

Lecture title: The Unfolding of Talent from Age 12 to 50: Creativity, Productivity, and Lifestyle of Intellectually Precocious Youth Chronicled over Four Decades

About her lecture: Fifty years ago highly gifted 13-year-olds were being identified and assessed for studying creative accomplishments, impactful careers, and the development of excellence and eminence across the lifespan (N>3500). A decade later, a cohort of 700 elite STEM graduate students, ages 24-25, attending top US universities, were added to the study for the same purpose (and to serve as a comparison). Young adolescents with exceptional abilities do become creative, with accomplishments and consequential careers that global economies prize. By age 50, over 10% of the profoundly gifted secured tenure at research-intensive universities, others became Fortune 500 CEOs, leaders in medicine, attorneys at prestigious firms, or were entrusted with valued economic and human resources. Those with the highest level of ability had achieved the most by age 50, with pattern of ability at age 13 predicting the content area of eventual accomplishments. Aspects of personality added to the prediction of creativity, productivity, and accomplishment. Substantial individual and gender differences were observed in life priorities, time allocation, and breadth of interests but not in their well-being and life satisfaction, which was high. Beyond talent and opportunity, how individuals choose to allocate their time is essential for understanding remarkable careers. The impact of educational interventions in adolescence, for example, could be detected decades later. These findings speak to issues of human flourishing and the nurturing of extraordinary human potential.