Also in this Issue
Gordon Bower Receives 2005 National Medal of Science
By David Kearns
Gordon Bower, renowned cognitive psychologist at Stanford University, has been honored as a recipient of the 2005 National Medal of Science for his exemplary research in human memory and reasoning. The list of the National Medal of Science Laureates for the year 2005 was released on Tuesday May, 29, 2007 by the Office of Science and Technology Policy within the Executive Office of the President. Bower was one of eight recipients of this prestigious award for 2005. It is one of our nation’s highest scientific honors.
The National Medal of Science is awarded for “pioneering scientific research in a range of fields, including physical, biological, mathematical, social, behavioral, and engineering sciences that enhances our understanding of the world and leads to innovations and technologies that give the United States its global economic edge.” The President’s Committee (responsible for selecting recipients) recognized Bower "for his unparalleled contributions to cognitive and mathematical psychology, for his lucid analyses of remembering and reasoning and for his important service to psychology and to American science." At Stanford, Bower studied human memory, mnemonic devices, retrieval strategies, recording strategies, and category learning. His other research interests included cognitive processes, emotion, imagery, language and reading comprehension as they relate to memory.
While still working on his doctoral degree at Yale University, Bower was offered a professorship at Stanford University after attending a workshop there in the summer of 1957. After earning his PhD with distinction from Yale, he began his career at Stanford, where he remained until 2005. While at Stanford, Bower served as the chair of the Psychology Department from 1978 to 1982 and as the associate dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences from 1983 to 1986.
Gordon Bower is regarded as one of the foremost experimental psychologists and learning theorists in the United States. Throughout the years, his work and achievements have been recognized by a number of organizations. Bower served as President of the Western Psychological Association, the Association for Psychological Science, and the Society of Experimental Psychologists. He also served as the American Psychological Association’s Chief Scientific Advisor, with his term spanning the tenure of four Science Executive Directors, including those of William Howell, Richard McCarty, Kurt Salzinger, and the first year of current Science Director Steve Breckler. Stanford University honored Bower as its Albert Ray Lang Professor of Psychology in 1975, and in 1979 the American Psychological Association awarded him the Distinguished Scientific Contribution Award.
From 1992 to 1993 Bower served as the Chief Scientific Advisor to the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Fred Goodwin. His work in this position led to his appointment as the leader of a 52-person task force at NIMH that produced a thorough review of the state of mental-health knowledge in 1995, entitled Basic Behavioral Science Research for Mental Health: A National Investment. This report guided the National Advisory Council on Mental Health and was submitted as a requested report to the Congressional committee overseeing the NIMH budget. Bower has received several other national honors, including election to the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the Society of Experimental Psychologists.
Upon receiving the award, Dr. Bower thanked friends and colleagues and remarked that this great honor was not simply the achievement of one, but of many. “Because it is so rarely given in the social-behavioral sciences, the award helps promote recognition of our field. A few psychologists have gone before me, and hopefully many more will come after. I am fully aware that it is the joint work with my ex-students and collaborators that is recognized by this prize and you should consider it as shared by all of us,” said Bower.