Professional Biography

Undergraduate Education and Research

Campbell Leaper received a B.A., magna cum laude, with honors distinction in Psychology from Boston University. He was also awarded Phi Beta Kappa and Psi Chi. His primary mentors at BU were Jean Berko Gleason and George Michel.

After finishing his bachelor’s degree, Leaper worked as a research assistant at the Boston Veteran Administration Hospital's Aphasia Research Center with Harold Goodglass, Margaret Naeser, and Martin Albert. He also worked as a research assistant at the Education Development Center in Massachusetts.

Graduate Education and Research

Campbell Leaper did his graduate studies in psychology at the University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA), where he received his Ph.D. in Psychology. He specialized in developmental psychology. In addition, he completed one minor in social psychology and a second minor in language disorders. His mentors included Patricia Greenfield (advisor and dissertation co-chair), Nancy Henley (dissertation co-chair), Nancy Rader, Rosslyn Gaines, and Christiane Baltaxe.

Leaper's early graduate research focused on the pragmatic aspects of children's language development and language disorders. He collaborated with Patricia Greenfield on a study into the functions of young children's language use (see Greenfield, Leaper, Reilly, & Baker, 1985). This was followed by a stint as a Research Associate at the UCLA Neuropsychiatric Institute. Leaper managed a project for Rosslyn Gaines investigating communication training in nonverbal children (see Gaines, Leaper, Weickgnant, & Monahan, 1988). During this time, Leaper also completed a training in language disorders with Christiane Baltaxe at the Neuropsychiatric Institute. His work included a study of thought-disordered schizophrenic children's discourse (see Leaper & Emmorey, 1985).

His broader interest in the pragmatic/social functions of language and communication led to a shift in Leaper’s research focus. In particular, he began to consider how language is used to create, maintain, and transform gendered relationships. Nancy Henley became an important advisor and mentor during this period. For his dissertation, Leaper examined gender- and age-related variations in children's communication (see Leaper, 1991).

During his later graduate years, Leaper was an instructor at California State University at Long Beach, California State University at Northridge, and Santa Monica Community College.

Postdoctoral Fellowship

After completing his doctorate, Campbell Leaper was a Research Fellow in Psychology at Harvard Medical School for two years. He collaborated with his mentor Stuart Hauser on a longitudinal project of adolescent psychosocial development (see Leaper, Hauser et al., 1989).

Also, at this time, Leaper reunited with his former Boston University undergraduate mentor, Jean Berko Gleason, to collaborate on a study examining gender-related variations in parent and child communication during different play activities (see Leaper & Gleason, 1996). 

UCSC Faculty

Professor Leaper joined the Psychology faculty at the University of California at Santa Cruz in 1988. He has collaborated with several UCSC undergraduate and gradate students in his research on gender and sexism.  (See links at top of this page to "Research" and "Publications") for more information.) 

Professor Leaper was Founding Provost of College Nine and College Ten as well as Associate Dean of Social Sciences (2000-2006). He also served as director of the developmental psychology graduate program (2007-2010, 2014-2015) and chair of the psychology department (2015-2019). He has been honored with the title of Distinguished Professor of Psychology (2020-present). 

In addition, Professor Leaper is the co-founder (with Dr. Carol Martin) and organizer of the Gender Development Research Conference (2004-present) that is held biennially in San Francisco ( 

Recent University Administrative Service

  • Department Chair, Psychology Department (2015-2019).
  • Director, Graduate Program in Developmental Psychology (2007-2010 and 2014-2015).
  • Interim Provost of College Nine and College Ten (2014).
  • Chair, Academic Assessment Grievance Committee, Academic Senate (2008-2013).
  • Member, Executive Committee and Academic Standing Committee, College Ten (2007-2014).
  • Associate Dean of Social Sciences (2000-2006).
  • Founding Provost of College Nine and College Ten (2000-2006).