Department of Psychological + Brain Sciences

UPDATE Newsletter


Congratulations to Brett Jefferson, who was awarded the 2016-17 Herman B Wells Fellowship from the University Graduate School.

Brett is currently an advanced graduate student in James Townsend’s Mathematical Psychology Lab.  As Townsend observes, “He has not only been absolutely exemplary in aiding and representing minorities on and off campus, but has begun to build an extraordinary career in mathematical/cognitive psychology.  We are fortunate to have such a splendid scholar and outstanding human being in our program.”

"What Drives Human Cognitive Evolution?"

PBS Professor Peter Todd, director of the Cognitive Science Program, in collaboration with members of the Stone Age Institute and Cognitive Science Program, received a $3.2 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation to study the evolution of human cognition. The grant, titled “What Drives Human Cognitive Evolution?” will explore the prehistoric evidence for human brain expansion; the associated behavioral, technological and adaptive patterns in the archaeological record; and the implications for how cognition evolved. The other four project leaders, also Indiana University faculty and members of the university’s Cognitive Science Program, are Kathy Schick, Nicholas Toth, Colin Allen, and Tom Schoenemann.

APS recognizes Franco Pestilli and Cara Lewis with award and honors

Computational neuroscientist Franco Pestilli has won the 2016 Janet Taylor Spence Award for Transformative Early Career Contributions from the Association for Psychological Science. Clinical psychologist Cara Lewis was designated a 2016 Association for Psychological Science Rising Star.


Other PBS faculty members to receive these awards recently were Brian D’Onofrio, who was given the APS Spence Award in 2013. Mary Murphy was recognized as a Rising Star in 2013, as was D’Onofrio in 2012 and B. J. Rydell in 2011.


Eliot Smith among 2016 Distinguished Professors

In February five IU scholars and researchers were named distinguished professors, the highest academic rank in the university. Among them was Eliot Smith. The distinguished professorship recognizes faculty who have transformed their fields of study and have earned international recognition. Smith, the War Years Chancellor’s Professor in the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences, is a leading expert on how people interact with social groups.


Smith has received the American Psychological Association’s James McKeen Cattell Award, the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues’ Gordon Allport Intergroup Relations Prize, and the Society for Personality and Social Psychology’s Theoretical Innovation Prize. He is a charter fellow of the American Psychological Society, a member of the American Psychological Association and a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science.


Published on April 28, a new study by professors Chen Yu and Linda Smith on the social origins of children’s attention spans received coverage in numerous publications, among them Smithsonian, The Telegraph, Daily Mail, Live Science, Huffington Post Australia, International Business Times, Fox News, Fit Pregnancy, CBS News, and Good Morning America.


Professor Edward Hirt talks about fandom and self-identification in this Sports Illustrated podcast posted on April 12.

Assistant Professor Franco Pestilli talks about the rediscovery of a part of the brain that connects ‘what’ with ‘where’--on Inside Higher Ed’s January 19 podcast, The Academic Minute.

In January media sources across the globe cited Professor Peter Finn’s comments on the Powerball jackpot. Among them were the Indy Star, Newsweek, Reuters, Yahoo, and news sources from Ireland to Australia.

Psychological + Brain Sciences