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Univ. of North Carolina at Charlotte
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I was born in Chicago, Illinois in 1946. My parents, Stanley and Doris Fenvessy, and my twin sister, Barbara, and I moved to Scarsdale, New York when I was 5 years old. Barbara and I graduated from Scarsdale High School in 1964 and then together went to Vassar College, where Tannis Arbuckle, a student of Endel Tulving, introduced me to psychology. As a freshman, I did a project for her course in which I designed and conducted an original experiment on detecting the letter t in prose passages. I found that subjects made a disproportionate number of detection errors on the word the and explained the results in terms of the Gestalt principle of unitization. I only got a B+ on that project, but it changed my life and turned me into an experimental psychologist. I have continued up to the present studying unitization processes in reading. I did my undergraduate honors thesis on artificial grammar learning with Bill Krossner, a student of George Miller, and psycholinguistics has been another topic of continuing interest for me.
My parents moved from Scarsdale to New York City when Barbara and I went to Vassar. In 1968, immediately after college, I went to graduate school about six blocks from my parents’ apartment at The Rockefeller University. There I worked first with George Miller and later with Bill Estes, who was my dissertation advisor. These remarkable giants in psychology were inspiring and gathered around them a group of brilliant psychologists including Adam Drewnowski, Doug Medin, and Rich Shiffrin, just to name a few of those closest to me. Once again my life was changed, not only by the incredibly stimulating environment at Rockefeller, but also by the fact that I met and in 1970 married Bruce Healy. Bruce was a theoretical physics student at Rockefeller. Rockefeller paid for both of us to go to summer school in
Europe in 1972; I went to the International Summer Course on Process Models for Psychology in The Hague, and Bruce went to a physics summer school in Kaiserslautern, Germany. On the way there, we ate at six of the best restaurants in the world, those listed with 3 stars in the French Guide Michelin, and we had marvelous pastries in Paris. This was a life-changing experience for Bruce, who eventually switched careers from physics to food writing and has now written three of the definitive cookbooks on French pastry. We both received our Ph.D.s from Rockefeller in 1973. My dissertation research was on mathematical models of short-term memory, a topic I’ve continued to study ever since.
My first job was as Assistant Professor (and later Associate Professor) at Yale. Bruce’s first job was a post doc at The Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. For two years, we spent a lot of time commuting between New Haven and Princeton, but then Bruce joined the physics faculty at Yale. I had a group of amazing colleagues both at Yale and at Haskins Laboratories, where I was a research associate, including John Anderson, Bob Crowder, Mike Kubovy, Al Liberman, Bob Sternberg, and Endel Tulving. One of my Yale colleagues, Bob Crowder, asked me to take on the job as Acting Associate Editor of Memory & Cognition, while he went on sabbatical leave, and that was my first major editing experience. In 1981, I joined the faculty of the University of Colorado (CU) at Boulder as Associate Professor with tenure and was promoted to full Professor in 1984. At CU, I also had a fabulous group of colleagues and collaborators, most notably my senior colleagues Lyle Bourne, Walter Kintsch, and Tom Landauer, all eminent leaders in the field of experimental psychology. Lyle has been a close collaborator since about 1985 when we started a project with Anders Ericsson on the training, long-term retention, and transfer of knowledge and skills, a topic we have continued to research with many different tasks and exciting discoveries over the past two decades. Another frequent collaborator, who started working with me when he visited CU on sabbatical leave, has been Tom Cunningham from St. Lawrence University.
Shortly after I came to CU, one of my former Rockefeller colleagues, Rich Shiffrin, invited me to become Associate Editor of Journal of Experimental Psychology: Learning, Memory, and Cognition. I served in that position from 1981-1984, and not long after that, I became the Editor of Memory &
Cognition (1986-1989), the first woman to become the sole editor of a major journal in experimental psychology.
My other service to the field includes membership on the Governing Board (1987-1992) and Publications Committee (1989-1994) of the Psychonomic Society and on the Executive Committee of APA Division 3 (1989-1992 and 2001-2004). I was also President of the Rocky Mountain Psychological Association (1994-1995) and Chair of Electorate J (Psychology) of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) (1995-1996). I was elected Fellow of the APA (1984 Division 3, 1996 Division 1), the American Psychological Society (1989), the AAAS (1989), and the Society of Experimental Psychologists (1997).
My research has been funded by grants from the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Science Foundation, the Spencer Foundation, the Air Force Human Resources Laboratory, the Naval Training Systems Center, the Army Research Office, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. In addition, from 1986 to the present, I have been Principal Investigator on multiple contracts from the Army Research Institute, with my colleague and collaborator Lyle Bourne as Co-Principal Investigator.
I have published over 150 articles and chapters in professional journals and books, am co-author of the textbook Cognitive Processes (1986) (with Lyle Bourne, Roger Dominowski, and Beth Loftus), and am the senior editor of six volumes: the two-volume set Essays in Honor of William K. Estes (1992) (with Steve Kosslyn and Rich Shiffrin), Learning and Memory of Knowledge and Skills (1995) (with Lyle Bourne), Foreign Language Learning (1998) (with Lyle Bourne), the Experimental Psychology volume in the Handbook of Psychology (2003) (with Robert Proctor), and Experimental Cognitive Psychology and its Applications: Festschrift in Honor of Lyle Bourne, Walter Kintsch, and Thomas Landauer (in press).
I have been privileged in my academic career in terms of the people with whom I have studied and worked. The individual who has had the strongest influence on me has been my mentor Bill Estes. Early in my career, I gave Bill a draft of every manuscript and grant proposal I wrote, and he graciously gave me advice and recommendations for revision. In subsequent years, I did not rely on that direct feedback, but almost invariably when making a decision, I ask myself WWBD--What would Bill do?
As rewarding and fulfilling as my career has been, my biggest pride and joy in the last 15 years has come from watching my daughter Charlotte develop and mature. Bruce and I were married 17 years when we finally decided to have a child. I was finishing my term as Editor of Memory & Cognition in 1988 when she was born, and that was indeed the best life-changing experience of all.
My address is Department of Psychology, University of Colorado, 345 UCB, Boulder, CO 80309-0345, phone 303-492-5032, fax 303-492-8895, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org