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    January 8, 2007
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American Psychological Association honors Nora Newcombe for Distinguished Service to Psychological Science


Nora Newcombe
(Joseph V. Labolito / Temple University)
Psychology’s Nora Newcombe has been honored with the 2006 Award for Distinguished Service to Psychological Science by the American Psychological Association’s Board of Scientific Affairs “for her record of extraordinary service and leadership in psychological science.”


The award, which includes a plaque and a cash honorarium, was presented to Newcombe at APA’s Science Leadership Conference in Washington, D.C., in December.  The award recognizes individuals who have made outstanding contributions to psychological science through their commitment to a culture of service.


“[Newcombe’s] influence and leadership in the fields of psychology and developmental and cognitive science are significant. She has held important leadership positions in professional organizations,” said APA in announcing Newcombe’s selection. “She has served on grant review committees and government advisory panels … has made contributions in the area of journal editing, allowing her to forge collaborative relationships … has been a visionary leader and advocate for the role of psychological science in society by helping to inform public policy debate through scientific data … [and] has testified eloquently before Congress on a number of occasions, with far-reaching effects. She epitomizes the scholar-teacher-service model, she is admired and respected by her colleagues, and stands out in her service to psychology.”


Newcombe, the James H. Glackin Distinguished Faculty Fellow and a professor in the department of psychology, said she was almost overwhelmed by the award, and was extremely pleased to be recognized by her peers for more than her scholarly work.  She has long been involved in trying to create a “culture of service” by scholars and researchers within psychological science, and even was profiled in the April 2004 issue of APA’s journal, Monitor on Psychology, for her efforts.


“Temple University psychology professor Nora Newcombe, PhD, makes it a point to review others' journal articles because she appreciates the same services from them,” stated the Monitor in that issue. “And she reviews a lot of articles: She currently serves as consulting editor for four journals, has edited three others and reviews submissions for several more. 

“But her editorial work is just a small part of the service commitment that makes Newcombe the kind of person APA's Science Directorate wants its PSY21 [Psychological science for the 21st century] initiative to help replicate.”


For Newcombe, a developmental psychologist, the APA award caps off a successful 2006. 


In April, she became the first Temple faculty member to be named a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.  She was inducted with a class that included such luminaries as former presidents George H.W. Bush and Bill Clinton, Supreme Court Chief Justice John Robert, Nobel Prize-winning biochemist and Rockefeller University President Sir Paul Nurse, actor and director Martin Scorsese, choreographer Meredith Monk, conductor Michael Tilson Thomas, New York Stock Exchange chairman Marshall Carter, former U.S. Poet Laureate Rita Dove and Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright Paula Vogel.


Co-director of Temple’s Infant Lab at Ambler, Newcombe is a nationally recognized expert in cognitive development, specifically spatial development — “where things are, how to get places, how to imagine things in three-dimension, and problem-solving spatially such as an architect or organic chemist might do” — and memory development — “especially autobiographical memory development and the issue of why we cannot remember our early childhood very clearly.”


In September, she was awarded a two-year, $3.5 million grant by the National Science Foundation to establish a Spatial Intelligence and Learning Center (SILC).  Newcombe serves as the principal investigator for the grant, which has the potential to reach $15 million in funding over the next five years, and includes key researchers from the University of Chicago, Northwestern University and the University of Pennsylvania.


The center’s consortium of researchers will focus on spatial thinking in their respective fields. It draws on talent from leaders working in cognitive science, psychology, computer science, education and neuroscience, as well as practicing geoscientists and engineers, and teachers in the Chicago public schools.


Preston M. Moretz




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