His family moved to Dover, Ohio, where he graduated from Dover High School.
He was hired at Pixar by Roger Gould in 1994 as an animator for commercials, before subsequently becoming an animator on Toy Story. He made his directorial debut with Up, in which he also voiced the character Dug. He received his undergraduate degree from Ohio Northern University, and a master"s degree in mechanical engineering from Purdue University in 1986.
While attending Purdue, he wrote and illustrated the comic strip Loco Motives for the Purdue Exponent.
Prior to coming to Pixar, Peterson worked at Wavefront Technologies and Rezn8 Productions. Peterson has also voiced characters for Pixar films such as Geri in the short Geri"s Game, Roz in Monsters, Incorporated., Mr.
Ray in Finding Nemo and Dug in Up. His most recent vocal work was Roz in Monsters University.
He conceived Pixar"s The Good Dinosaur and directed the film until August 2013, when it was announced that he had been dismissed from the project due to story problems.
Peterson remains at Pixar, where he is developing another project In August 2015, Peterson voiced a dog named Derby for an East:60 special on Entertainment and Sports Programming Network that chronicled the Trenton minor league baseball team"s tradition of using bat dogs.