Psychologist Receives National Medal of Science

At a White House ceremony in October, President Clinton presented the nation's highest scientific honor to cognitive psychologist Roger N. Shepard, PhD. Dr. Shepard, Ray Lyman Wilbur Professor of Social Science at Stanford University, was one of eight scientists chosen by the President to receive the 1995 National Medal of Science for outstanding contributions to science.

In recognition of his "stunningly original, influential, and fundamental contributions to our understanding of the nature of the human mind," Raymond Fowler, PhD, Chief Executive Officer of APA, nominated Dr. Shepard on behalf of the Association. Nominations are sent to the President's Committee of the National Medal of Science, which then forwards recommendations to the President.

President Clinton selected Dr. Shepard from among the candidates and cited him "for his theoretical and experimental work elucidating the human mind's perception of the physical world...for giving purpose to the field of cognitive science...and for demonstrating the value of bringing the insights of many scientific disciplines to bear in scientific problem solving."

Dr. Shepard has made great strides in understanding the nature of mental processes that previously were thought to be impossible to study. In particular, his research has fundamentally altered scientific and popular views of the nature of mental imagery and has had a profound impact on the fields of psychology, philosophy, computer science, linguistics, and neuroscience.

Probably the most striking aspect of Dr. Shepard's work is its vast and diverse applications to the improvement of the human condition. His research findings have helped people to better organize control rooms and cockpit displays, and to produce more effective educational programs. His basic research has laid the groundwork for a number of significant applications developed by others that have enabled radiologists to better detect breast cancer and airline officials to more accurately predict the competency of future pilots.

This is not the first honor bestowed upon Dr. Shepard. He is the recipient of the 1976 APA Award for Distinguished Scientific Contributions to Psychology, and in 1977, he was elected to the National Academy of Sciences. Dr. Shepard is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and is the William James Fellow of the American Psychological Society.

Dr. Shepard received a PhD in experimental psychology from Yale University in 1955. He later joined the technical staff of Bell Telephone Laboratories, where he stayed until 1966. From Bell Labs, Dr. Shepard joined Harvard University as a full profssor. Two years later, he moved to Stanford, where he was named the Ray Lyman Wilbur Professor of Social Science.

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