Richard Aslin, the William R. Kenan Professor of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and director of the Rochester Center for Brain Imaging at the University of Rochester, has been elected a member of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS).
Membership in the academy is one of the highest honors given to a scientist or engineer in the United States. Aslin will be inducted into the academy next April during its 151st annual meeting in Washington, D.C.
"This honor is richly deserved. Dick is a pioneer in the field of cognitive development," said Peter Lennie, provost and the Robert L. and Mary L. Sproull Dean of the Faculty of Arts, Sciences and Engineering. "His work has opened up a major new field and has transformed our understanding of how infants learn."
Aslin has explored how infants and toddlers develop cognitive abilities in both language and object recognition based on the statistics of their environment, or in other words the probability that something will or will not happen. Learning, he has shown, is a process of forming statistical models that allow the brain to accurately interpret or predict our constantly changing environment.
"Dick is a scientist of the greatest distinction, but he also is an outstanding teacher, mentor, and administrator," added Lennie. "And he is the most congenial and generous colleague one could wish for. Dick has contributed enormously to the wellbeing of the University as a whole."
Aslin joins eight other University of Rochester faculty elected to the society of distinguished scholars in past years. Founded in 1863, the academy's members include nearly 200 living Nobel laureates and has counted among its members Albert Einstein, Robert Oppenheimer, Thomas Edison, Orville Wright, and Alexander Graham Bell.
Aslin received his doctorate in child psychology from the University of Minnesota in 1975, and taught at Indiana University before joining Rochester in 1984. Today, he is the principal investigator of the Rochester Baby Lab. He is an author of more than 100 publications and an editor or contributor to 36 books. Aslin serves on the editorial boards of the journals Infancy, Language Learning and Development, and Cognitive Science, and is an associate editor for Developmental Science. He was elected a fellow of the Cognitive Science Society in 2012.
Aslin's research has been supported by grants from the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, the McDonnell Foundation, and the Packard Foundation. He is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and he is the immediate past-president of the International Society for Infant Studies.
The National Academy of Sciences is a private nonprofit engaged in scientific and engineering research and is dedicated to the furthering of science and technology and their use for the general welfare. For more information, or for the full list of the 71 newly elected members, visit www.nationalacademies.org.