Henry L. Roediger, III
Washington University in St Louis
Henry L. “Roddy” Roediger, III once made a rather unusual request of one of his graduate students: He asked the nervous first-year to dress up in a gorilla suit and jump up onstage at an APS Annual Convention as part of a keynote address delivered by Roediger’s mentor, APS William James Fellow Endel Tulving.
That graduate student, Andrew Butler, University of Texas at Austin, soon learned what a tremendous opportunity he was offered, interacting with Endel Tulving and countless other thinkers in the vanguard of psychological science. “Roddy opened a door for me, and he has done the same thing for countless others,” says Butler. A key component of Roediger’s mentoring technique is taking active steps to further his students’ knowledge and career opportunities, even if those steps are not always conventional. Each mentee can offer similar memories of times when Roediger promoted the well-being of his mentees behind the scenes, often after they had left his lab—and in at least one case, even though the
student had never officially worked under his guidance.
Another pillar of Roediger’s advisory approach is his strict adherence to good science and his insistence that his lab members be equally conscientious. Many of his mentees noted his ability to quickly parse students’ individual abilities and help them develop their strengths while addressing their weaknesses.
Many of Roediger’s former mentees note that he is still the first person they turn to when they face major decisions, such as whether to take a faculty position, where to focus research energies, and how to deal with collegial conflict. Many mentees credit him with helping them navigate both academic and personal predicaments despite his demanding schedule and many duties.
Roediger is not only a driving force in the field of psychological science but also a tremendously generous, exceptionally caring, and constantly encouraging mentor. Past APS Board Member Suparna Rajaram notes that Roddy does “what one imagines the best advisors to do — he gives his students roots, and he gives them wings.”