1888-2013: Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences celebrates 125 years at IU Bloomington

  • Sept. 26, 2013


BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- On Friday, Oct. 11, the Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at Indiana University Bloomington will recognize the occasion of its 125th anniversary with a daylong program of major festivities.

The department's distinguished lineage goes back to 1888 when William Lowe Bryan, future president of Indiana University, introduced the "new psychology" to his native state by establishing a psychological laboratory in IU's Department of Philosophy.

The original Indiana University Psychological Laboratory, as it was known, marked the beginning of what is now the longest continuing psychology program in the country. It also paved the way for an expansive enterprise that now extends beyond a single building to multiple labs and research facilities.

The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences is now a highly collaborative, interdisciplinary enterprise and a leader in state-of-the-art experimentation and theory in the field. With more than 1,500 majors, more than any other department in the College of Arts and Sciences, it includes 64 full-time faculty members and 54 laboratories that study all aspects of the brain-behavior system, including molecular neuroscience, development and cognition, and the social behavior of groups.

"The Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences has an enormous worldwide impact," said IU Bloomington Provost and Executive Vice President Lauren Robel. "Its faculty include renowned scientists and teachers who conduct cutting-edge and highly relevant research on topics ranging from molecular neuroscience to social behavior. Its many undergraduates and graduate students are directly engaged in that research and its alumni apply these critical insights to a broad range of careers. We at IU Bloomington congratulate the department on its illustrious history and know that it will continue to accomplish great things in the future."

Researchers in the department have included such pioneering figures as B.F. Skinner, the founder of modern behaviorism; J.R. Kantor, a prolific psychologist credited with establishing the first naturalistic system of psychology since Aristotle; Esther Thelen, who revolutionized thinking about how babies learn; and William K. Estes, who pioneered the application of mathematics to the study of animal learning and human cognition.

Events on Oct. 11 include lectures and symposia on issues facing the scientific community and society at large, such as violence and guns, and will conclude with a reception and a banquet.

Several Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences alumni will be recognized for outstanding professional achievements. Richard Atkinson (Ph.D. '55), president emeritus of the University of California and former chancellor of UC San Diego, will receive a Lifetime Achievement Award. Those receiving a Distinguished Alumni Award are Mary Czerwinski (Ph.D. '88), principal researcher at Microsoft Research, and Peter Yonkman (B.A. '95), executive vice president at Cook Group Inc. A Young Alumni Award will acknowledge some of the department's most promising young alumni.

The department will further mark the occasion with the unveiling of a limestone sculpture of a human brain near the entrance to the Psychology Building, a model 7 feet high, making it the largest anatomically accurate brain sculpture in the world.

The following talks are free and open to the Bloomington community. They will take place in the Psychology Building on 10th Street, Room 100:

  • 8:30 to 9:30 a.m., Connections and Connectivity: Two internationally acclaimed Psychological and Brain Sciences faculty, Provost Professor Olaf Sporns, and Distinguished and Chancellor’s Professor Linda Smith, discuss major new breakthroughs in the field.
  • 10 to 11 a.m., The Future of Psychological and Brain Sciences: A panel discussion between prominent scientists and psychologists on what the future holds. Panelists include Philip Rubin, principal assistant director for science, Executive Office of the President of the United States; Joseph Steinmetz, provost, The Ohio State University, and recent president of the Association for Psychological Science; Alan Kraut, executive director, Association for Psychological Science; and Richard McFall, professor emeritus, Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences at IU Bloomington.
  • 1 to 2 p.m., Danger and Disorder: Violence, Guns and Mental Illness: A lecture by nationally renowned Psychological and Brain Sciences graduate John Monahan (Ph.D. '72), "the leading thinker on the issue of violence risk assessment," according to the U.S. Supreme Court. Monahan is the John S. Shannon Distinguished Professor of Law, Horace W. Goldsmith Research Professor of Law, Professor of Psychology and Psychiatric Medicine, University of Virginia. 
  • 2:30 to 3:30 p.m., Psychology in the Real World: A discussion among distinguished alumni on the relationship between their education in psychology or neuroscience and their careers in the "real world." Among the panelists are Mary Czerwinski, principal researcher, Microsoft Research, and David Pfenninger, CEO, entrepreneur, investor and business consultant.

A full day of lectures and symposia will culminate in a grand celebratory hour with IU President Michael A. McRobbie, College of Arts and Sciences Executive Dean Larry Singell, Psychological and Brain Sciences historian James Capshew and Psychological and Brain Sciences Chair William Hetrick. The day will conclude with a reception and banquet.

The deadline for registration is Oct. 4. Registration and a complete schedule are available online.

For more information, contact Liz Rosdeitcher at 812-855-4507 or rosdeitc@indiana.edu. 

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Liz Rosdeitcher

  • Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences
  • Office 812-855-4507
  • rosdeitc@indiana.edu

Tracy James

  • IU Public Safety and Institutional Assurance
  • Office 812-856-2865
  • Cell 812-369-7100
  • traljame@iu.edu
  • Protect IU
  • @ ProtectIU