2019 William James Fellow

Elizabeth A. Phelps
Harvard University

Elizabeth A. Phelps has had an enormous impact across several domains of psychological science, including affective, cognitive, and social psychology. Her groundbreaking research on how the human brain processes emotion has garnered international acclaim and has influenced many disciplines, from the basic sciences to clinical psychology and psychiatry.

Her multidisciplinary body of research has probed the influence of emotion across cognitive and behavioral domains using novel imaging techniques and neuropsychological studies grounded in animal models of learning. Through this work, Phelps has critically informed a neuroscientific model of the role of emotion in cognition and behavior. Her work has significantly advanced our understanding of the pathophysiology of mood and affective disorders and has identified promising novel approaches for their treatment.  Her findings about our ability to rewrite fear memories and block these memories without the use of drugs has significant implications for the treatment of anxiety- and stress-related disorders.

In addition, her publications on racial bias, trust, and human choice reflect how her work extends from affective and cognitive neuroscience to social psychology and neuroeconomics.

A Past President of APS, Phelps has conducted research that holds tremendous importance for understanding the mind, the brain, the behavior of the individual, and trends in society at large. She is also known as an exceptional mentor and a strong advocate of women in science.