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UCSB Faculty's Top Honor
updated: Mar 08, 2012, 4:23 PM
The faculty of UC Santa Barbara has bestowed its highest honor on Leda Cosmides
and John Tooby, professors of psychology and anthropology, respectively.
Internationally recognized as the founders of the influential field of
evolutionary psychology, Cosmides and Tooby have been named joint recipients of
the Faculty Research Lecturer Award for 2012.
In announcing the award, the UCSB Academic Senate noted that the scholars are
credited with creating and shaping the modern framework for evolutionary
psychology, which, according to one colleague, represented nothing less than a
"scientific revolution" within the field of psychology. Their evolutionary
approach to cognition culture is viewed as one of the most important new
perspectives in the cognitive sciences in the past 50 years. Furthermore, their
sustained rate of high-quality theoretical and empirical research continues to
both lead and underpin the field.
The Faculty Research Lectureship was established in 1955, and Cosmides and Tooby
share the 57th award. Their Faculty Research Lecture will take place on campus,
and will be free and open to the public. The date and location of the lecture
have not yet been determined.
"I was delighted to hear that Professor Cosmides and Professor Tooby were chosen
as the 2012 recipients of our Faculty Research Lecturer Award," said UCSB
Chancellor Henry T. Yang. "This very special recognition is a testament to the
high regard our campus holds for their groundbreaking scholarship, outstanding
research contributions, and scientific leadership in the field of evolutionary
psychology. We look forward to their Faculty Research Lecture later this year."
Last year's recipient of the prestigious honor was Linda Petzold, a professor of
mechanical engineering and computer science, and a renowned authority on
computational science and engineering. Her Faculty Research Lecture, "Adventures
in Computing," took place last December.
"We are excited to receive this award," noted Cosmides and Tooby. "There is so
much truly remarkable research going on at UCSB that this was completely
unexpected. We feel very honored to be recognized in this way by our
In spearheading the new field of evolutionary psychology, Cosmides and Tooby,
who are co-directors of UCSB's Center for Evolutionary Psychology, have
integrated knowledge from a variety of fields, including evolutionary biology,
cognitive neuroscience, primatology, and behavioral ecology. In doing so, they
have explored the extent to which the human mind contains neuro-computational
mechanisms that evolved to solve specific adaptive problems repeatedly faced by
humans across their evolutionary history.
"Evolutionary Foundations in Culture," their chapter in the book "The Adapted
Mind," which they also co-edited, is regarded as one of the most important
publications in psychology in the 1990's. That paper, along with a dozen or so
related publications, created what scholars have described as a paradigm shift
in thinking in the field of psychology that extends into the social sciences.
The work of Cosmides and Tooby is now seen as foundational in fields such as
political science, sociology, and economics, among others.
In "Evolutionary Foundations of Culture," they compared the Standard Social
Science Model (one that assumes a small number of general-purpose programs that
allow reasoning and learning of many different kinds) with the tenets of
evolutionary psychology (which proposes special-purpose programs that evolved to
solve specific types of problems). In a relatively short period of time, the
proposed framework became accepted as one of the major approaches to both
psychology and anthropology.
In selecting Cosmides and Tooby for the 2012 honor, the Faculty Research Lecture
Committee also noted that a central feature of their respective careers is a
sustained - and, indeed, escalating - rate of scientific productivity. Their
work has received more than 20,000 citations, with more than 50 papers cited at
least 50 times. Their research has appeared in top journals, including Nature,
Science, the Proceedings of the Royal Society of London, the Proceedings of the
National Academy of Sciences, Psychological Review, Psychological Bulletin,
Behavioral and Brain Sciences, and Harvard Business Review.
In addition, they were jointly recognized as recipients of the J.S. Guggenheim
Memorial Award, and Cosmides was selected for a 2005 National Institutes of
Health Directors' Pioneer Award, an honor she shared with Tooby. Only 23 of
these awards have ever been given, and Cosmides is the only behavioral scientist
ever to receive one. The award is reserved for those "willing and able to
explore ideas that were considered risky at the inception," and who are "truly
visionary thinkers who are able to make those leaps and change the current
paradigms of medical research."
Tooby joined the Department of Anthropology at UCSB in 1990, and Cosmides joined
the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences in 1991. Both professors
completed their undergraduate and graduate degrees at Harvard, and were fellows
at Stanford University's Center for Advanced Study before becoming members of
the UCSB faculty.
Comments in order of when they were received | (reverse order)
2012-03-08 09:06 PM
2012-03-09 07:56 AM
Let's hope they get a raise and better pentions.
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