Sheila Ohlsson Walker, CFA, Ph.D., is a the Founder and Scientific Advisor for the Center for Sport and Human Development at the University of Denver, a Senior Scientist at the Institute for Applied Research in Youth Development at Tufts University and a Visiting Assistant Professor at the Johns Hopkins University School of Education. Her research interests center on human malleability, and how nature (our genes) operates via nurture (the environment). By translating science into accessible, practical language, she equips athletic coaches, teachers and parents with knowledge and skills that catalyze positive youth development and fortify multi-level health.
A former professional tennis player who continues to compete at a national level, Dr. Walker has experienced first-hand the power of youth sport to embed life skills, mindsets and habits that transfer to the workplace and foster mental and physical wellness into adulthood. She knows that coaches and teachers are in a position to amplify the holistic development of young people, and activate a lifelong love of learning.
To do so, the quality of the environments and relationships they build together are vital. For this reason, her writing and public speaking focuses on human-centered, research-based approaches to optimizing human potential. Topics include resilience, relationships, mindset, neuroplasticity, the power of story, social and emotional learning, character, the science of learning and development, toxic stress, trauma, and the science of exercise, sleep, and nutrition.
Dr. Walker earned a doctorate in Behavioral Genetics from the Social, Genetic and Developmental Psychiatry Centre at King’s College London, and a B.S. in Finance from the University of Colorado, Boulder. She serves on the board of the U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Foundation, is a trustee of the Kent Denver School, a member of the United States Tennis Association’s Sport Science Committee and works closely with the Junior Tennis Champions Center, Turnaround for Children and LIFT Communities. She lives in Denver with her husband, their three sons, and a beloved goldendoodle puppy.