Featured Convention Speakers

Join the entire convention delegation each evening to hear from prominent psychological scientists.

Fred Kavli Keynote Address

Thursday, May 23

Michael Tomasello

Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology and Duke University

APS Fellow Michael Tomasello, considered one of the world’s leading developmental and comparative psychological scientists, will deliver the 2018 Fred Kavli Keynote Address. Tomasello’s groundbreaking research on the origins of social cognition has illuminated the unique cognitive and cultural processes that distinguish humans from great apes. He has studied the distinctive human skills and motivations for shared intentionality, joint intention, collaboration, prosocial motives, and social norms. He has also examined children’s language acquisition as a critical aspect of the enculturation process. Tomasello is a Guggenheim Fellow and has received numerous other awards and honors in the United States and Europe, including the Max Planck Research Award, the British Academy Wiley Prize in Psychology, and the Heineken Prize for Cognitive Science.


Presidential Symposium

Friday, May 24

Barbara G. Tversky (Chair)

Teachers College, Columbia University and Stanford University 

APS President Barbara Tversky is a leading authority on visual-spatial reasoning and collaborative cognition. Her research spans memory, categorization, diagrammatic reasoning, sketching, creativity, design, and gesture. Tversky’s work has uncovered people’s thinking about the spaces they inhabit and the actions they perform and see and their use of their own actions and creations to remember, think, create, and communicate. She has collaborated widely with linguists, philosophers, neuroscientists, computer scientists, chemists, biologists, architects, designers, and artists.

The symposium will feature talks by:

Jonathan Berger, Stanford University
In addition to his renown as a composer, Jonathan Berger is an active researcher with more than 60 publications in fields ranging from music to science to technology. Berger’s research explores how and why humans persistently, even obsessively, engage with music. His artistic works include opera, orchestral, chamber, vocal, and electro-acoustic music. He is a Guggenheim Fellow and a 2016 recipient of the Rome Prize in recognition of his innovative, cross-disciplinary work in the arts and humanities.

Andrea Kantrowitz, State University of New York at New Paltz
Andrea Kantrowitz is an artist and researcher who uses cognitive psychology theories and methods to study the hidden dynamics of artists’ thinking processes. Her work includes a randomized control trial that demonstrated the impact of an interdisciplinary art curriculum for students growing up in poverty. She has lectured and led workshops on art and cognition internationally. Kantrowitz believes drawing represents a solid example of human imagination at work.

David Kirsh, University of California, San Diego
David Kirsh studies how people adapt their environments to simplify cognitive tasks. Extending theoretical tools from other fields and designing interactive experiments, Kirsh strives to develop new principles for environment and workplace design, blending virtual and physical elements to create venues for people to collaborate and to work in digitally-enhanced environments. He also has designed large web sites for the World Bank and other entities.

Jeff Zacks, Washington University in St. Louis
In his Dynamic Cognition Laboroatory, APS Fellow Jeffrey Zacks studies how we perceive and represent temporal structure in everyday activity and how we process spatial relationships between the body and external objects. His methods combine behavioral experiments, functional MRI, eye tracking, computational modeling, and testing of neurological patients. In addition to his academic work, he has applied his research at Bell Communications Research and Interval Research Corporation.


Closing Keynote Address

Saturday, May 25

Betsy Levy Paluck

Princeton University

In field work that has taken her from public high schools to postgenocide Rwanda, Betsy Levy Paluck has gained renown as a top authority on mitigating intolerance and aggressive behavior. In an experiment in Rwanda, Paluck showed how a radio show featuring an interethnic couple led people to view such relationships as normal, which in turn appeared to influence their behavior without changing their beliefs. In longitudinal work involving 60 high schools in New Jersey, she and her colleagues have demonstrated how antiprejudice interventions targeted at certain individuals can spread through groups and reduce peer conflict and disciplinary problems. More recently, she’s found evidence that the U.S. Supreme Court’s legalization of same-sex marriage help change perceptions of social norms and increased public support for gay marriage.  In 2017 Paluck won the MacArthur Fellow Award, known as the “Genius Grant,” for her innovative research.