Elissa Newport, PhD, professor of neurology and director of the Georgetown University/MedStar National Rehabilitation Network (NRH) Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery, has been selected to receive the Association for Psychological Science’s (APS) highest honor – the William James Lifetime Achievement Award for Basic Research. In addition, the APS board of directors has chosen her as among 25 of the field’s most elite scientists.
The award recognizes Newport as one whose work has had a “profound impact on the field of psychological science over the past quarter century” and recognizes a “lifetime of significant intellectual contributions to the basic science of psychology,” says Joseph E. Steinmetz, APS President.
Newport, a member of the National Academy of Sciences, has devoted her career to studying human language acquisition. She is cited as creator of a leading hypothesis of language acquisition and has provided some of the seminal evidence about differences between children and adults in their ability to learn languages. Recently, she has expanded her research to include the study of stroke and differences in recovery between children and adults – with children’s capacity for recovery a potential model for enhancing neuroplasticity in adults.
Newport moved to Georgetown and MedStar NRH last year to lead the new center. Before that, she served as chair of the department of brain and cognitive sciences at the University of Rochester for 12 years. Her work has been funded continuously by the National Institutes of Health, which honored her with the Claude Pepper Award of Excellence, and the National Science Foundation, among other organizations and foundations. She is a fellow in the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, American Philosophical Society, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.
“James Fellows represent the absolute best our science has to offer,” Steinmetz wrote in his letter informing Newport of the award. “Your inclusion in this distinguished group of scientists only adds to its stature. It is with great pride that we recognize your outstanding research and dedication to the field.”
William James is considered the father of modern psychology and was one of the most influential pioneer theorists in psychology.
“I am honored to receive this award and thrilled to have my work recognized by the APS,” says Newport. “It is especially significant to receive the William James Award for basic research as we begin a new and exciting enterprise in the Center for Brain Plasticity and Recovery.”
The Association for Psychological Science, marking its 25th anniversary in 2013, is a nonprofit organization dedicated to the advancement of scientific psychology and its representation at the national and international level. APS has approximately 23,500 members and includes the leading psychological scientists and academics, clinicians, researchers, teachers, and administrators.
By Karen Mallet, GUMC Communications