2016 APS Mentor Award

Richard N. Aslin

University of Rochester

Richard N. Aslin is widely acknowledged as one of today’s most skilled and innovative researchers in the areas of perceptual and cognitive development. His research program is both theoretically and methodologically sophisticated, and it has extraordinary breadth, comprising cutting edge research in vision, language, and learning.

Aslin exposes his students to exciting problems and provides them with the tools to do innovative work. His mentorship fosters appreciation for deep analysis of the problems we face, a sense of the history of the field, and a commitment to excellence. He also has an unusual knack for helping students identify fruitful problems and giving them the freedom to develop their own ideas, while providing just the right amount of guidance to keep them on track. The result is that his mentees are directed and productive as graduate students, yet have the creative independence and drive to be highly successful as independent faculty members.

“From Day 1,” writes one mentee, Aslin “teaches students that being a scholar isn’t a job, it’s a vocation; that your relationship with your students is life changing; that scholarship is something that can happen in the office and at the breakfast table.”

Equally, mentees express thanks for his example as a productive and integrative researcher who crosses disciplinary boundaries to craft “an exciting research program that spans several different subfields of cognitive and developmental psychology,” as APS Fellow Scott P. Johnson, shares. Aslin is “a mentor for the delicate balance between work and life, and time management,” Johnson writes. “He cares about us both as scientists and as people.”

Aslin achieves this delicate balance extraordinarily well: Nearly all of his dozens of former graduate students and post-docs are employed in postdoctoral, tenure-track, or tenured positions at major research universities.

Aslin’s influence on the field is breathtaking, especially when considering his influence on his many mentees. He has extended the same extraordinary care and constructive support to some of the field’s best and brightest.