You are viewing 28 posts in the category Faculty News

Welcome Gregory Samanez-Larkin

    • 500gregory samanez larkin

The Department welcomes Gregory Samanez-Larkin, who will be joining P&N as a new assistant professor on July 1, 2017.

Dr. Samanez-Larkin received his PhD in Psychology at Stanford University, and is currently an Assistant Professor of Psychology, Cognitive Science, and Neuroscience at Yale University. His lab examines how individual and age differences in motivation and cognition influence decision making across the life span. Their research is at the intersection of a number of subfields within psychology, neuroscience, and economics including human development, affective science, cognitive neuroscience, behavioral economics, and finance. 

Link to his lab website:

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Emotions Flickering in the Brain

Work by P&N's Kevin LaBar and colleagues is featured as lead story today on CNN Health.

LaBar and his team have mapped the distinct patterns of brain activity that correspond to seven different
emotional states while subjects are resting without external stimulation in an MRI scanner..

“It’s getting to be a bit like mind-reading,” said  LaBar.  “Earlier studies have shown that functional MRI can identify whether a
person is thinking about a face or a house. Our study is the first to show that specific emotions
like fear and anger can be decoded from these scans as well.”

    • labar emotionmap

The group is applying new multivariate statistics to the scans of brain activity to see different emotions as networks of
activity distributed across areas of the conscious and unconscious brain. When mapping these networks, they identified seven paterns of brain activitiy reflecting contentment, amusement, surprise, fear, anger, sadness and neutrality.

LaBar thinks these new maps of emotional states could be useful in studying people who have poor insight into their emotional status, and might be used in clinical trials to test the effectiveness of treatments to regulate emotions.

Full text of the CNN article:

Kevin Labar's lab webpage:

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Thank you Kathleen Sikkema and Melanie Bonner

Appreciation and thanks from P&N's Clinical Faculty to Kathleen Sikkema and Melanie Bonner for their years of service as Director Of Clinical Training and Director of Graduate Studies!

    • P&N Clinical Faculty 6/21/2016
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Dodge elected to National Academy of Medicine

    • Dodge

Congratulations to Kenneth A. Dodge, who has been elected to the National Academy of Medicine:

Dodge is the William McDougall Professor in the Sanford School of Public Policy and Psychology & Neuroscience.  He is also  the founding director of the Duke Center for Child and Family Policy.

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Mike Tomasello wins APA's 2015 Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award

    • Mike Tomasello

Congratulations to Professor Mike Tomasello, who has won the American Psychological Association's 2015 Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award. This award is APA's highest research award. Past recipients have included names like
 Wolfgang Koehler, Jerome Bruner, and Jean Piaget. Congratulations!


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Mark Leary co-recipient of the 2015 Scientific Impact Award from the Society for Experimental Social Psychology

Dr. Mark Leary, Garonzik Family Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience, was co-recipient of the 2015 Scientific Impact  Award from the Society for Experimental Social Psychology.  The Scientific Impact Award recognizes a specific article in social psychology that has proven particularly influential over the last 25 years.  Dr. Leary received the award with Dr. Roy Baumeister for their article, “The need to belong: Desire for interpersonal attachments as a fundamental human motivation,” which was published in Psychological Bulletin in 1995.

    • Mark Leary
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Roberto Cabeza appointed new director of Center for Cognitive Neuroscience (CCN)

    • Professor Roberto Cabeza

Congratulations to P&N Professor Roberto Cabeza, who has been appointed director of
the Center for Cognitive Neuroscience. Read all about it on The Duke Institute for Brain

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P&N establishes new award for Duke Undergraduates

    • Jerome S Bruner

The Jerome S. Bruner Award for Excellence in Undergraduate Research will recognize an
undergraduate in their senior year at Duke for his/her excellence in research activities, intellectual
curiosity, and future potential for scholarly activity. Eligible applicants will be engaged in research, either as part of the Psychology major or under the supervision of a primary faculty member in Psychology and Neuroscience.

To apply, applicants must submit (A) the names and contact information for two references, (B) a bulleted list of research
activities, and (C) a 1‐page essay. This essay should explain how one’s research experiences have led to intellectual growth, in the same way that Dr. Bruner felt that research at Duke “opened up the idea of possibility” and “different ways of looking at the nature of man and of society.” The award will consist of a monetary prize and inclusion by name on a plaque in Zener Auditorium (Room 130 in the Sociology Psychology Building). Application materials should be emailed by October 14th to Ms. Natalia Silva Harwood at, with the label “Bruner Award” in the subject line.


    • Jerome S. Bruner

Jerome S. Bruner (1915‐ ). Dr. Bruner is a distinguished Duke alumni, who graduated as part of the class of 1937. Now an eminent psychologist, Dr. Bruner describes an undergraduate education marked by brilliant faculty, intellectual friends, reading Russian novels, and courses in anthropology, psychology, and sociology. He worked in a lab on East Campus and developed a love of research, which led him to earn a Ph.D. at Harvard in 1941. Dr. Bruner has held faculty positions at Harvard and Oxford; he is currently at New York University. His work was crucial to the establishment of cognitive psychology as a discipline, but is also remarkable for its breadth, with major contributions to learning theory, developmental psychology, and education. Being granted the Bruner award is an important honor for any student who is passionate about research and scholarship.

    • Duke Psychology Faculty 1937

(above:) Duke Psychology Faculty Picture, 1937

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Honoring Bob Thompson

    • Dr. Robert Thompson

On May 8th the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience held a thank you reception for Professor Bob Thompson at Bostock Library.  Thompson will be retiring in June but will continue to teach classes at Duke.

Thompson was lauded for his far-reaching impact on the University in a number of areas, from undergraduate education to campus culture to clinical psychology, as well as his personal integrity as a scholar and mentor.

 "Perhaps more than any other individual, Bob Thompson created the opportunities for pediatric and clinical child psychology to flourish at Duke,"  said longtime colleague John Curry.  "And this was all before he became Dean of Trinity College."

Thompson, who became Dean of Trinity College in 1997, returned to teaching full-time in 2008.  He holds appointments in the Departments of Psychology & Neuroscience and Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, and Pediatrics.

Since 2009, he has consistently taught two undergraduate seminar courses:  Biological Psychology of Human Development and a first year seminar, Beyond Reason: Empathy and Identity.  Undergraduates rave about these classes, describing Thompson as a passionate instructor who is always engaged in the process of student development, especially taking the time to help students find topics of interest for final projects and meeting with them multiple times along the way.

"I do not know anyone at Duke who has been more committed to enhancing undergraduate education than Bob,"  said Associate Dean David Rabiner.  "Through his efforts and support, our department was able to launch and maintain an intensive summer research program that has provided a terrific opportunity for many talented students."

Liz Victor,  a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Psychology & Neuroscience, has worked with Thompson since she was an undergraduate at Duke.  "When I first met Bob I was 18 years old and at that time I could not have fathomed the hugely significant role he would have in my professional and personal development," she said.  "His approach to mentorship is the perfect balance of providing empathy and support, while also pushing me to be a better clinician and researcher.  His passion for teaching, research, pediatric mental health, and personal student growth serves as a constant reminder for what I aim to achieve in my career going forward."

Thompson  was one of several  faculty members from Duke Psychiatry and  Psychology & Neuroscience  who created the Collaborative Clinical Psychology Program.  This group helped create  what is one of the top programs in the country, and one that is unique in its ability to train clinical psychologists for careers in academic psychology, academic medical centers, and the full array of scientific and professional options.  He was also founding member of the Association of Psychologists in Academic Health Centers, a professional home for psychologists in medical schools and other health centers.

Thompson became Dean of Undergraduate Affairs for Trinity College in 1997 and Trinity College Dean in 1999.  He was named Vice Provost for Undergraduate Education in 2004.  He also served as director of the Undergraduate Program in Human Development and co-director of the Faculty Associates Program. 

In 2008, The Thompson Writing Program at Duke was named in his honor.

One of Thompson's major accomplishments was helping craft Curriculum 2000, a major revision of the undergraduate curriculum that requires students to take courses in five areas of knowledge.  Thompson also promoted the creation of the Office of Undergraduate Research Support, and helped create Visible Thinking, an annual showcase of research in the natural and social sciences and the humanities by Duke students.  He was also chair of the Campus Culture Initiative Steering Committee.

As Dean of Trinity College, Thompson's open door policy and guidance was appreciated by many, said longtime former assistant Gail Hignight.  "I am not exaggerating when I say that I have seen thousands of students, faculty, administrators  and staff seek Bob out  for his guidance on everything from work issues to very personal problems," she said.

Thompson completed his undergraduate degree at La Salle University and his Ph.D. in clinical psychology from the University of North Dakota, with an internship at Indiana University Medical Center.  He  came to Duke to be the Director of the Developmental Evaluation Center, after having been the chief psychologist at Georgetown Medical Center's interdisciplinary developmental center, and a faculty member at Catholic University.

About two years after arriving at Duke, Thompson was asked to lead the Division of Medical Psychology within the Department of Psychiatry, which he proceeded to do with great distinction for 20 years.  He increased the size of the division, the opportunities for psychologists to work with virtually all of the medical specialties, and the academic impact of Medical Psychology.

"Thompson personifies the scientist-practitioner, the psychologist who is guided in practice by the best current science, and who, when he sees gaps in the science, conducts research to find answers that will be helpful to clinicians, children and their families," Curry said.  "He has accomplished all of this with integrity, in a spirit of collaboration and mutual respect."



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P&N Welcomes Elika Bergelson

The Department welcomes Elika Bergelson, who will be joining P&N as a new assistant professor on July 1, 2016.

Dr. Bergelson received her PhD in Psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, and is currently a Research Assistant Professor in the Brain and Cognitive Sciences Department at the University of Rochester. Her research examines word learning in infants, using eyetracking and corpus methods. Her work focuses on the interactions between language acquisition and cognitive development, and on the influence of infants' linguistic, visual, and social environments on early learning.

Link to her current website:

    • Elika Bergelson
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Welcome Mike Tomasello

    • Mike Tomasello

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Michael Tomasello will be joining Duke’s faculty as a Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience. Dr. Tomasello is currently the Co-Director of the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany. He is a world-renowned scholar on social cognition, social learning, and communication/language in human children and great apes. Dr. Tomasello did his undergraduate work at Duke and we are excited to welcome him back to campus!

Current Web Page:

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Welcome Rita Svetlova

    • Dr. Rita Svetlova

We are pleased to announce that Dr. Rita Svetlova will be joining Duke’s faculty as a Visiting Assistant Professor in Psychology and Neuroscience. Dr. Svetlova received her PhD from the University of Pittsburgh and is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany. Her research focuses on the development of prosocial skills, empathy, and morality. Please join us in welcoming her to Duke!

Current Web Page:

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Celebrating the Career of Philip Costanzo

    • Phil Costanzo speaks at FestSchrift

On Friday, May 2nd, the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience joined with the
entire university in celebrating the career of our colleague and friend Philip R. Costanzo.

The celebration, which was held at the Nasher Museum of Art, included a Festschrift in
the afternoon featuring four internationally recognized scholars who discussed the
implications of Prof. Costanzo’s work and a dinner and roast in the evening. The featured
speakers were: E. Tory Higgins, Columbia University; William Swann, University of
Texas-Austin; William Crano, Claremont Graduate School; and John Coie, Duke University

    • Phil Costanzo Festschrift Panel

The Festschrift attendees were welcomed by Prof. Laurie Patton, the Dean of the College
of Arts and Sciences, who lauded Prof. Costanzo for his more than 45 years of extraordinary
scholarship, teaching, mentoring, and service at Duke. Dean Patton also announced the
establishment of the Philip R. Costanzo Undergraduate Teaching Fellowship, an innovative
program in which the top undergraduate students in Psychology will have the opportunity to
receive training and experience in teaching and will serve as teaching assistants for
introductory courses.

    • Philip Costanzo and former students

Provost Peter Lange was the featured “roaster” for the evening and was followed by a
progression of friends, colleagues, and students who shared their favorite stories and
their gratitude for Prof. Costanzo’s scholarly contributions and  friendship.

P&N congratulates Prof. Costanzo on a truly extraordinary career and we are delighted to
have had the opportunity to recognize his work and his personal contributions. We look
forward to many more years of collaboration and colleagueship with Phil and we salute
him as he officially “retires”.

    • Philip Costanzo and Family

    • Phil Costanzo Festschrift
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Harris Cooper named the Hugo L. Blomquist Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience

    • harris

Congratulations to  Harris Cooper, who has just been named the Hugo L. Blomquist Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience.   Dr. Cooper was recognized for his contributions to several areas of psychology, from educational practice and student learning to meta-analysis and research synthesis, as well as for his leadership at Duke and in  our department's discipline. He was one of seven Arts and Sciences faculty who were awarded distinguished professorships this year.

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'Belief Superiority' is Bipartisan

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Psychology & Neuroscience PhD graduate Kaitlin Toner, professor Mark Leary,  undergraduate student Michael Asher, and doctoral candidate Katrina Jongman-Sereno, are featured in Duke Today for their research on people's feelings of superiority about their political beliefs. The Duke P&N team found that people who have more extreme political attitudes, in both liberal and conservative directions, tend to also think that their beliefs are superior to everyone else's. 
See the Duke Today website for the full article:
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Gary Bennett on NBC’s “Today"

    • garybennett

Associate professor Gary Bennett talks about a new program challenging weight-loss messages and healthy dieting concepts. (with video)

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P & N collaboration on global mental health in Tanzania

    • SOFT workshop Aug 2012

Psychology & Neuroscience professor Kathy Sikkema and  doctoral student Sarah Wilson, along with Dr. Melissa Watt at Duke Global Health Institute are featured in this month's Duke Research Blog for their upcoming study on psychological interventions for women with obstetric fistula in Tanzania.  Women with obstetric fistula have been found to have higher levels of depression, anxiety, and PTSD due to the social stigmatization associated with the disease.

See Duke's research blog for the full article:

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Mark Leary Elected SPSP President

    • Mark Leary
Mark Leary, Professor of Psychology and Neuroscience at Duke University, has been elected President of the the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, the world's largest organization of social and personality psychologists, with over 5000 members worldwide. 
Leary will serve as President-elect in 2014 and as President in 2015.
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Makeba Wilbourn Featured in Duke Today

P&N's Makeba Wilbourn is featured in  Duke Today for her work  at Durham's C.C. Spaulding Elementary.  Dr. Wilbourn's research-in-practice hopes to close the achievement gap with students by pairing gestures and body movements with vocabulary instruction and memory tests.  Full text of the article:

    • Makeba Wilbourn
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David Rubin Receives Honorary Degree From Denmark's Aarhus University

Congratulations to P&N faculty David Rubin, who received an honorary degree from Denmark's Aarhus University on September 14.  Check out the feature story on Duke Today as well as the video feature where Rubin talks about his research.

    • David Rubin Receives Honorary Degree From Denmark's Aarhus University

Dean Svend Hyllenberg, left,  presents Duke's David Rubin with an honorary degree. Seated wearing a gray dress (background, center) is Queen Margrethe II of Denmark. Photo by Lars Kruse/Aarhus University

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