Linda Theron

Full Professor, Department of Educational Psychology

Centre for the Study of Resilience

Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria

Extraordinary Professor

Optentia Research Focus Area

North-West University
South Africa


Linda Theron has an enduring interest in the resilience of children and youth who resist the negative impacts of disabling circumstances, experiences or conditions, and the role of situational and cultural dynamics in the multisystemic pathways of resilience that support their positive outcomes, especially mental health and wellbeing. This interest informed her doctoral research (completed in September 2000), subsequent nationally and internationally funded research studies, and 150+ peer-reviewed publications. Likewise, a resilience focus underpins her practice as a psychologist (she registered with the Health Professions Council of South Africa as an educational psychologist in 1999), her training of education and psychology students at North-West University (2000-2016) and the University of Pretoria (since August 2016), and community engagement. Her husband, emeritus professor Adam Theron, graduate students, and 1000+ research study participants have contributed immeasurably to Linda’s deep understanding and championship of child and youth resilience.

Some academic career highlights

  • Education Association of South Africa, Medal of Honour:  Young Researcher 2009
  • Principal co-investigator together with Dr Michael Ungar (Canada Research Chair in Child, Family & Community Resilience) in IDRC-funded Pathways to Resilience study, 2009-2014
  • Education Association of South Africa Research Medal, 2013
  • Finalist, NSTF-BHP Billiton Award 2015 (individual/team research leading to innovation):  Khazimula – An indigenous strategy to support youth resilience
  • Principal co-investigator together with Dr Michael Ungar in CIHR-funded Resilient Youth in Stressed Environments study, 2016-2022
  • National Research Foundation rating: internationally acclaimed researcher, 2017-2022 (B3); 2023-2028 (B1)
  • Elected member of the Academy of Science of South Africa (ASSAf)
  • Faculty of Education, University of Pretoria: Best Researcher Award, 2020, 2023
  • Leicester Institute for Advanced Studies Short Stay Research Fellowship Award, 2023
  • Principal investigator in resilience-to-depression Wellcome Discovery Award, 2024-2029