The Psychonomic Society honors deceased members by publishing obituaries on our website. If you know a member of our community who has recently passed away, please contact Colin MacLeod. Particularly valuable would be suggestions for who might write the obituary. For consistency, the text is to be no more than 150 words, where possible including a link to a longer obituary appearing elsewhere.
Charles W. Eriksen (1923-2018)
A towering figure in experimental psychology, Charles W. Eriksen passed away in February this year. He was 95. “Erik” made extensive, lasting contributions both to research methods and to theories in several areas of psychology, especially visual information processing. He pioneered many research methods now in common use—converging operations to distinguish perception from behavior, visual search, rapid serial presentations, the stop-signal paradigm, temporal integration in form perception, spatial and temporal cues for guiding selective attention, and (with his wife Barbara Eriksen) the flankers task. He also introduced and tested many theories of selective attention. The founding Editor of Perception & Psychophysics in 1966, Erik served for 23 years as its principal Editor. An impressive and unforgettable person, and a decorated veteran of World War II, Erik was a compelling representative of “the greatest generation.”
More information about Erik can be found at https://doi.org/10.3758/s13414-018-1532-9.
-Joe Lappin, Lisa Fournier, James Hoffman, Gordon Logan
David S. Gorfein (1935 – 2018)
David Gorfein passed away on July 31st at the age of 83. A native New Yorker, Dave earned his PhD from Columbia University while supporting himself teaching in Montana and Utah and mailing dissertation pages home for his mother to type. His 60-year career included positions at New College, Adelphi University, and University of Texas. He started out as a social psychologist but soon became interested in short-term memory. His research on homographs culminated in the development of his activation selection model for resolving semantic ambiguity. He loved attending Psychonomics and discussing research with all his friends. Dave will be remembered for his sense of humor, his generosity toward undergraduate and graduate students, his talent for creating community, and his ability to find puns everywhere. A life-long Yankees fan, he is survived by his wife Julia and sons Will and Aaron.
-Andrea Bubka and Stephanie A. Berger
Allan R. Wagner (1934-2018)
Allan Wagner died peacefully at home with his family on September 28, 2018, at age 84 after recurrence of brain cancer. Allan arrived at the Institute of Human Relations, which housed Yale’s Psychology Department, fresh from Iowa’s cornfields and Kenneth Spence’s tutelage. He fit right in with neo-behaviorists Neal Miller and Frank Logan. As the cognitive revolution began in the late 60’s, he and Bob Rescorla collaborated to revolutionize the study of association formation in classical conditioning with the Rescorla-Wagner model. Allan remained an influential theorist and experimentalist. His accomplishments were recognized with awards including the Howard Crosby Warren Medal of the Society of Experimental Psychologists (1991), election to the National Academy of Sciences (1992), and the APA Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions (1999). He served as the founding editor of JEP: Animal Behavior Processes (now Animal Learning and Cognition) as well as associate editor for several other journals.
More about Allan can be found here.
-J.W. (Bill) Whitlow, Jr.
Bruce W. A. Whittlesea (1950 – 2018)
Bruce Whittlesea passed away on July 11, 2018 in Freiburg im Breisgau, Germany. After completing his PhD under the supervision of Lee Brooks at McMaster University, Bruce briefly held faculty positions at Carleton University and at Mount Allison University. He then spent 20 years at Simon Fraser University, retiring in 2009. Bruce considered himself a scientist of the mind and of all that minds can do, and he pursued his science with passion and creativity. It was his fervent conviction that representations of experiences in memory, in dynamic interaction with the current environment, were the sole driving force behind all thought, behavior, and feeling states. He proposed that memory served two functions: production (generation of thoughts, feelings, and actions) and evaluation (causal inferences about what happens during acts of production), which he articulated in a framework called the SCAPE (Selective Construction and Preservation of Experience) account of memory.
Anne Treisman (1935-2018)
Anne Treisman died February 9, 2018 at age 82; she had been in declining health for the past few years. Anne was a towering figure in the field of attention. Anne taught at Oxford, University of British Columbia, Berkeley, and Princeton. Her early work shaped our understanding of auditory attention with her dichotic listening experiments and Attenuation Theory. When she turned to visual attention, her visual search experiments and her seminal Feature Integration Theory propelled decades of research. Treisman was elected to the Royal Society of London in 1989, the US National Academy of Sciences in 1994, and was the recipient of the 2009 Grawemeyer Award. In 2013, Treisman received the National Medal of Science from President Obama. She was at once a rigorous and a generous colleague and mentor and will be greatly missed. Anne is survived by her husband, Daniel Kahneman, and her children and grandchildren.
More about Anne can be found here and here.
Jerry Fodor (1935-2017)
Jerry Fodor passed away on November 29 at age 82. Across his career, as a faculty member first at MIT, then at CUNY, and, finally, at Rutgers, Jerry consistently offered up seminal thinking that spanned and greatly impacted both philosophy and cognitive science. Among his many contributions, his 1975 The Language of Thought continues to shape how we understand mental representations and his 1983 The Modularity of Mind is a landmark for articulating fundamental questions about the functional architecture of the mind and brain. In addition to his outsized influence on modern cognitive science and cognitive neuroscience, Jerry had a wit and personality to match: He was a very engaging speaker and his writing is highly readable. Jerry once famously remarked “On my bad days, I sometimes wonder what philosophers are for.” On his good days, which were many, Jerry demonstrated exactly what philosophers are for: challenging our assumptions and providing insight into the big questions.
More about Jerry can be found here and here.
Elizabeth Deutsch Capaldi Phillips (1945-2017)
Betty Capaldi Phillips passed away on September 23, 2017, at 72. Betty enjoyed a remarkable career. After receiving her PhD at the University of Texas, she rose through the ranks to professor at Purdue University, becoming department head and associate dean of the graduate school. She later served as provost of three universities (Florida, Buffalo, and Arizona State). Betty’s research centered on motivational effects in eating, studied in rats and humans. She served on the Psychonomic Society governing board (1992-1997), and as president of the Association for Psychological Science and the Midwestern Psychological Association. Betty was a highly effective administrator wherever she went, as the obituary below will attest. When she retired as provost at ASU, she created an entertaining and educational PBS TV show, Eating Psychology with Betty.
Betty was a wonderful person and a warm, caring friend. The earth is a sadder place.
More about Betty is available on the Arizona State University website.
- Henry L. Roediger, III
William "Bill" Uttal (1934-2017)
Bill Uttal died in his sleep on February 9 at the age of 83 surrounded by his wife and family. His PhD (1957) was in experimental psychology and biophysics at Ohio State. At IBM he constructed the first multiple terminal system, developing some of the first computer-aided instruction on it. At the University of Michigan (1963) he mapped neural to behavioral responses. He was the second president of the Society for Computers in Psychology (1974). Bill moved to Arizona State University in 1988, where he turned to computer vision research and to writing books—a new one every 18-24 months. A recurring topic was the relation of brain, mind and behavior; a pervasive tone was that of an astute critic. For years a small group of us met to discuss science and philosophy. The target was often Bill. He loved the sport, leading the life of an engaged scholar to the very end.
More about Bill can be found here.
Janellen Huttenlocher (1932-2016)
Janellen Huttenlocher, a pioneer in the field of childhood development whose research explored how children acquire language, understand space, and learn math, died Nov. 20, 2016 in Chicago. She was 84. Most of her career was spent at the University of Chicago where she was William S. Gray Professor Emeritus in Psychology. She also spent time at Harvard, where she received her PhD, and at Columbia Teachers College. Huttenlocher’s impact in the field of psychology included co-authoring the books Making Space: The Development of Spatial Representation and Reasoning and Quantitative Development in Infancy and Early Childhood, as well as publishing hundreds of research articles. Her scholarship spanned 60 years from her first publication in 1956 to her last in 2015. She received many honors including the William James Award and membership in the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her beloved husband Peter predeceased her. She is survived by her children Daniel, Anna, and Carl, and by six grandchildren.
More about Janellen is available in this University of Chicago article.
Bruce Bridgeman (1944-2016)
University of California, Santa Cruz professor of psychology and psychobiology, Bruce Bridgeman, an internationally renowned researcher on spatial orientation and neuroscience, was tragically killed July 10 after being struck by a bus in Taipei while crossing a multi-lane intersection. Bridgeman was due to speak that day at the Medical University of Taiwan. He and his wife, Diane Bridgeman, were on a speaking tour in Asia where both were giving talks.
More about Bruce is available in this University of California, Santa Cruz article.
Jerome S. Bruner (1915-2016)
Jerome Seymour Bruner was an American psychologist who made significant contributions to human cognitive psychology and cognitive learning theory in educational psychology. Bruner was a senior research fellow at the New York University School of Law. He received a BA in 1937 from Duke University and a PhD from Harvard University in 1941. A Review of General Psychology survey, published in 2002, ranked Bruner as the 28th most cited psychologist of the 20th century.
More about Jerry can be found in The New York Times, The Washington Post, and this article from New York University.
Suzanne Hammond Corkin (1937-2016)
Sue Corkin lost her battle with liver cancer six days after a joyous 79th birthday celebration amongst family and friends. She is survived by her children Jocelyn, Damon and J. Zachary, and seven grandchildren. After graduating from Smith College, Corkin completed graduate studies with Brenda Milner at McGill University followed by work with Hans-Lukas Teuber at MIT. After Teuber’s death in 1977, Sue became the principal investigator of the laboratory. While Corkin worked on many projects, she was especially devoted to the meticulous study of H.M., a man who developed severe anterograde amnesia subsequent to temporal-lobe surgery to abate debilitating epilepsy. These studies were unique and fundamental in advancing the neuroscience of memory and its disorders.
More about Suzanne is available in The New York Times.
-Marlene Oscar Berman
Richard W. Held (1920-2016)
Dick Held died on November 21, 2016 at the age of 94. He was one of the earliest members of what is now the MIT Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and was its Chair in the later 70s, early 80s (when he was also my PhD advisor). He did foundational work on visual adaptation and, later, infant vision, among other topics. After retiring for a second time (from the New England College of Optometry), he became a fixture in Pawan Sinha’s lab, back at MIT. There he returned to his long interest in the classic problem of the vision of people whose sight had been restored after being blind (or nearly blind) since birth. He was in the lab regularly until he moved to western MA to be closer to his daughter just this year.
Glyn Humphreys (1954-2016)
Glyn Humphreys, a UK based cognitive psychologist with a substantial international profile died suddenly on January 14, 2016, while in Hong Kong as a Distinguished Visiting Professor. A former editor of the Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception and Performance, of the Quarterly Journal of Experimental Psychology, and founding editor of Visual Cognition, he was a prolific, influential and inspiring scientist until his untimely passing. He made major contributions to the understanding of visual processing both in healthy adults and in brain damaged adults following stroke. He was president of the UK Experimental Psychology Society, Chair of Psychology at the University of Birmingham, and later became Chair of Psychology at the University of Oxford.
More about Glyn is available in tributes on this memorial page and in The Guardian and The Psychologist.
Earl Busby (Buz) Hunt (1933-2016)
Earl Busby (Buz) Hunt left us on April 12, 2016, age 83. Although slowed recently by various ailments, Buz continued working and enjoying family until the end. He received BA from Stanford (1954), then spent 3 years as a Marine officer before Yale and PhD with Carl Hovland (1960). Buz and Mary Lou (née Smith, married 1954) arrived at University of Washington in 1966. Buz’s first specializations were concept learning, mathematical modeling, and artificial intelligence. These extended soon to cultural and, especially, individual differences in cognition. Buz’s 1978 Psychological Review article (“Mechanics of verbal ability”) signaled his new and career-enduring interest in individual differences in intelligence. Buz was elected to Society of Experimental Psychologists in 1989 and received APS’s James McKeen Cattell Award in 2011.
More about Buz is available here.
John Krauskopf (1928-2016)
John Krauskopf passed away on February 3, 2016, aged 87 following a long struggle with Parkinson’s. Krauskopf graduated from Cornell (1949). He received his PhD from University of Texas at Austin (1953) advised by M.E. Bitterman. He was a postdoc with Lorrin Riggs at Brown University. After assistant professorships at Brown and Rutgers, he joined Bell Laboratories (Murray Hill, NJ) from 1966-1986. From 1986-2003, he was a research professor at New York University. Krauskopf made contributions to many areas of vision research and is best known for early work on stabilized retinal images and a career’s worth of important contributions to color vision research. He received the International Color Vision Society’s Verriest Medal (1999) and the Optical Society’s Tillyer Award (2004). He was elected to the Society of Experimental Psychologists in 2000.
More about John is available here.
Stan Kuczaj (1951-2016)
Dr. Stan Kuczaj, professor of psychology and director of The University of Southern Mississippi’s internationally recognized Marine Mammal Behavior and Cognition Laboratory, died April 14 at his home in Hattiesburg. He was 65. Kuczaj joined the faculty of the University’s College of Education and Psychology in 1996. In addition to his duties as professor and director of the laboratory, his service included a stint as chairman of the Department of Psychology.
University of Southern Mississippi article
George Mandler (1925-2016)
George Mandler, founding chair of the University of California San Diego’s Department of Psychology and a central figure in psychology’s cognitive revolution, died in his London home on May 6, 2016 at age 91. Mandler was born in Austria, on June 11, 1924. Mandler was active at UC San Diego from 1965 until recently, and spent time also at Harvard, University of Toronto, and University College London. Mandler authored nine books and over 150 articles and chapters. He received honors including a Guggenheim Fellowship and the William James Award, and he chaired the Governing Board of the Psychonomic Society. Mandler is survived by his wife, Jean; sons Peter and Michael; daughters-in-law Ruth Ehrlich and Sophie Mandler; grandchildren Ben and Hannah; and step-grandchildren Giovanni and Diana.
University of California, San Diego article
Allan Urho Paivio (1925-2016)
Al Paivio was born in Northern Ontario to Finnish immigrants. After serving in the Canadian Navy in World War II, he moved to Montreal where he opened one of the city’s first health clubs; a body builder, he was named Mr. Canada in 1948. At McGill, he received a degree in Physical Education and went on to graduate school in psychology working with Wallace Lambert on “evaluation anxiety.” After a post-doc at Cornell and a faculty position at the University of New Brunswick, he moved to the University of Western Ontario where he spent the rest of his career. Although he published on a wide range of topics, he is best known for his “dual coding theory” that postulated separate representational systems for mental imagery and verbal processes. His work was instrumental in bringing the study of mental imagery (and cognitive processes in general) back into the forefront of experimental psychology.
More can be found here.
John A. Swets (1928-2016)
John Swets was an extraordinarily productive scientist, contributing foundational work on the theory of signal detection and finding numerous ways to apply it in medicine, education and other practical problem areas. The importance of his work has been recognized in many ways, including election to the National Academy of Sciences, receipt of the Howard Crosby Warren Medal from the Society for Experimental Psychologists, an award from the American Psychological Association for Distinguished Scientific Contributions, and recognition for “a lifetime of scientific achievement” by the Association for Psychological Science. Swets spent 36 years of his professional life at Bolt Beranek and Newman Inc (BBN), holding several positions including those of General Manager and Chief Scientist. His autobiography, Tulips to Thresholds: Counterpart Careers of the Author and Signal Detection Theory (2010), is an engaging account of his life and work.
More about John can be found here.
George H. Collier (1921–2015)
George Collier died in his home on Saturday, April 18, 2015 at the age of 94. He was a professor at Rutgers University, New Brunswick for more than 45 years and continued his research for many years after his retirement. He served as the chair of the psychology department there for several years. He was President of the Eastern Psychological Association in 1995-1996. He published more than 100 scholarly papers, focusing on the effects of ecological factors (procurement costs, patchiness, encounter frequency, time limitations, risks, etc.) on feeding behavior, trying to understand in its full richness the manner in which this basic behavior was controlled. He received the Distinguished Career Award from the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior and the Distinguished Research Award of the Trustees of Rutgers University. His wife, Carolyn Rovee-Collier predeceased him. He was a great outdoorsman and a small-scale sheep farmer, a true gentleman and scholar.
More can be found here.
Ronald A. Finke (1950-2015)
Steven M. Smith & Thomas B. Ward
Ronald A. Finke died on November 4, 2015. He completed his Ph.D. at MIT (1979), with postdoctoral positions at Cornell and Stanford, and faculty positions at UC-Davis, SUNY-Stonybrook, Texas A&M University, and Texas State University. Ron authored numerous influential books and papers on mental imagery and creative cognition, including Creative Cognition: Theory, Research, and Applications (1992, Finke, Ward & Smith) andPrinciples of Mental Imagery (1989, Finke). He created strikingly original theoretical constructs about fundamental cognitive processes, finding convincing ways to empirically demonstrate them. His original contributions and discoveries include emergent properties in visualized combinations, representational momentum, and the geneplore theory of creative cognition. Ron was a brilliant and creative man with a wry and imaginative sense of humor.
Texas State University article
Nicholas Mackintosh (1935–2015)
Professor Nicholas Mackintosh, FRS, former Head of the Department of Experimental Psychology, University of Cambridge, died 8th February 2015, in Bury St Edmunds.
University of Cambridge article
Alison Morris (1958–2015)
Alison Morris, Associate Professor of Psychology at Iowa State University, passed away unexpectedly on November 21, 2014. Alison received her Ph.D. from Boston University in 2000, where she worked with Catherine Caldwell-Harris. Alison studied processes occurring at the intersection between attention, perception and memory. She had particular interest in visual word recognition, especially the processes producing repetition blindness. Alison developed a computational model to account for the phenomena that she studied. Alison regularly presented at the annual Psychonomic Society meeting. Her students and colleagues were expecting her to be present for her poster when they learned of her passing. A wise and witty woman, Alison's nonacademic side included being a trained storm spotter and a die hard Green Bay Packers fan.
Iowa State University article
-Anne Cleary & Veronica Dark
David Premack (1925-2015)
David Premack, retired from the University of Pennsylvania, died at the age of 89 on June 11, 2015. His career spanned a major revolution in psychology from behaviorism to cognitive psychology. The Premack Principle was an important modification to reinforcement theory that stipulated that reinforcement is a relative, not an absolute property. He studied chimpanzees when testing reinforcement theory and then later showed that these primates could comprehend and produce conceptual relations using a “language” of visual symbols. Later he and his student Guy Woodruff introduced the influential concept “Theory of Mind” that is an active area of research in comparative and developmental psychology among others. He demonstrated that chimpanzees can solve analogies and make causal inferences.
University of Pennsylvania article
Keith Rayner (1943–2015)
Keith Rayner, the world’s leading figure in the study of skilled reading using eye-movement methodologies, died on January, 21, 2015 from complications due to cancer. Keith began his career at the University of Rochester, before serving a long tenure at the University of Massachusetts and concluding as Distinguished Professor at the University of California, San Diego. He won many awards for his contributions to research and mentorship, including from societies in the USA, UK, and China. He served on the Governing Board of the Psychonomic Society from 1995-2001, serving the last year as its chair. He published more than 400 articles, 1 book, and 10 edited volumes.
University of California, San Diego article
More information can be found at http://www.forevermissed.com/keith-rayner/
Janet Taylor Spence (1923–2015)
Janet Taylor Spence, influential researcher and professional leader, died on March 16, 2015, at the age of 91, in Cape Cod, Massachusetts, after a short illness. Janet served on the Governing Board of Psychonomic Society (1978-1983) and chaired its Publications Committee. She was unique in having been president of both the American Psychological Association (1984) and the Association for Psychological Science (1988). In her University of Iowa dissertation (Ph.D. 1949), supervised by Kenneth Spence (whom she married in 1959), she created the widely-used Taylor Manifest Anxiety Scale. In later years she made trailblazing contributions to the study of gender. Her academic career, marked by many “first to’s”, began at Northwestern University (1949-1960) and ended with her retirement from the University of Texas in 1987.
More can be found here and in a filmed interview here.
Harriett Amster (1928–2014)
Harriett Amster, Professor of Psychology, at the University of Texas, Arlington, from 1977 to her retirement in 2006 passed away on October 21, 2014. Dr. Amster, received her Ph.D. from Clark University, in 1960, and pursued a career involving human learning and memory, which evolved into research focusing on verbal meaning and lexical ambiguity processing. As a member of the Psychonomic Society she presented her first paper at the 1964 annual meeting. Papers bearing her name were quite regularly presented at the annual meeting with the last presented in 2009. In addition to her interest in language processing she also served the journal, Psychology of Women Quarterly from 1973-1976, and as a consulting editor from 1977 to 1983.
-David Gorfein and Ruth Maki
Thomas K. Landauer (1933–2014)
Thomas K. Landauer, one of the most creative and innovative cognitive scientists of his generation, died on March 26, 2014, at age 81. After a PhD at Harvard, Tom held faculty positions at Dartmouth, Stanford, and Princeton before spending 25 years at Bell Laboratories and Bellcore, where he created one of the first research programs in human-computer interaction. After returning to the University of Colorado, his undergraduate alma mater, Tom carried out his seminal work on Latent Semantic Analysis and founded Knowledge Analysis Technologies, reflecting his desire to turn research into real-world products.
For more on Tom’s life and how his wit, wisdom, and insights inspired so many of us, see http://www.legacy.com/obituaries/dailycamera/obituary.aspx?pid=170505204, written by his wife, Lynn, and http://psych-www.colorado.edu/docs/Landauer-obituary-Apr-2014.pdf.
-Robert A. Bjork
Patrick Colonel Suppes (1922–2014)
Patrick Colonel Suppes, age 92, died on November 17, 2014 in his home at Stanford, California. Pat graduated from the University of Chicago. Following two years of military service in the South Pacific he began graduate training at Columbia University in 1947, graduating in 1950. In 64 years at Stanford as a professor of Philosophy, Statistics, Education and Psychology, he published 32 books and hundreds of technical reports and articles. His deep knowledge of the foundations for mathematical and set-theoretical thinking generated advances in the foundations of physics and quantum mechanics, decision theory, probability and causality, psychology, philosophy of language, education and computers, and philosophy of science. His practical application of these ideas created computer assisted instruction and introduced computers in grade schools as teaching aids. As a founder and Director of The Institute for Mathematical Studies in the Social Sciences, Suppes brought outstanding researchers to Stanford. His award of the National Medal of Science in 1990 distinguished him as a man of rare talents used to clarify and formalize the foundations of many disciplines.
Stanford University article
New York Times article
Richard F. Thompson (1930–2014)
Richard F. Thompson, the Keck chair emeritus at USC and a pioneer of behavioral neuroscience, died at home of natural causes September 16, 2014. Thompson played a leading role in the ascendance of studies of learning and memory in modern neuroscience. Educated at Reed College then earning a University of Wisconsin PhD, Thompson’s textbook, Foundations of Physiological Psychology (1967), shaped the burgeoning field. A founder of the Psychonomic Society, Thompson taught at University of California, Irvine, Harvard University, and Stanford University before USC. He was best known for his research tracing out brain circuits underlying behavioral habituation and classical conditioning. Thompson published more than 450 articles and mentored 60 PhD and post-doctoral students.
University of Southern California article
His autobiography in Squire, L.R. (Ed.) The history of neuroscience in autobiography, Vol. 4 (2004).
Jonathan Vaughan (1944–2014)
Jonathan Vaughan, a member of the Psychonomic Society Publication Committee from 2004-2010, designer of the Society’s logo and website, died on September 14, 2014 of cancer-related pneumonia. Jon taught legions of students in his long tenure at Hamilton College. Included among his protégé’s was Cathleen Moore, the incoming Chair of the Society’s Governing Board. From 1999-2004 he served as Editor of what was then called Behavior Research Methods, Instruments, and Computers. Jon made significant contributions to the study of human perception and performance. He co-authored a 2014 book, MATLAB For Behavioral Scientists.
Hamilton College article
-David A. Rosenbaum