In Memory of David P. McCabe


David Peter McCabe

David Peter McCabe, Assistant Professor of Psychology at Colorado State University, passed away unexpectedly and peacefully on January 11, 2011. His death is a great loss to his family, friends, and colleagues, and also to the field of psychological science. Dave has left a lasting impression on us all and on the research he loved. We will remember him for his passion for innovative research, genuine kindness, wit and friendship.

Dave’s career at Colorado State was outstanding by any measure. He was a prolific researcher, authoring numerous scientific publications that gained him wide respect in his field, and he served as a Consulting Editor for Memory and Cognition. His engaging presentations at Psychonomics and Cognitive Aging conferences were always well-received by attentive audiences, and were delivered with clarity, humor, and insight.

Although Dave was an accomplished and engaging teacher, one of his true passions was research. During his abbreviated career, Dave made a number of important advances to our understanding of working memory, conscious recollection, memory accuracy, and memory changes associated with aging. He made many contributions to the area of working memory, including the finding that working memory and frontal functioning are highly overlapping concepts (McCabe, Roediger, McDaniel, Balota, & Hambrick, 2010). Much of his work on recollection and memory accuracy argued that phenomenological reports of remembering could be used to assess accurate recollection (e.g., McCabe & Geraci, 2009) and that they could be used to predict accurate memory in the future. He also studied expertise, false memory, and metacognition, making several important contributions to these areas. In addition, he conducted ground-breaking research on how brain images can be persuasive but misleading for understanding scientific findings (McCabe & Castel, 2008). His collaborative research spirit will result in many forthcoming and future articles in which he made significant contributions. As an enthusiastic and insightful collaborator, Dave made research fun and exciting, had a broad creative and critical perspective, and was always ready to talk about research or any other topics.

Alan Castel (left), Dave McCabe (center) and Matt Rhodes (right)

Alan Castel (left), Dave McCabe (center) and Matt Rhodes (right)

David McCabe was born in Valley Stream, New York on November 8, 1969 and spent most of his childhood in Glen Head, New York, where he grew up with his sister and two brothers, playing a variety of sports. He was also a music lover and played in a band for a short while before focusing on his education. Dave attended North Shore High School and graduated in 1987. Dave graduated from the State University of New York – Institute of Technology (SUNY-IT), and while living in Utica, married Jeannine. They moved to Atlanta in 1999 when Dave was accepted for graduate school at the Georgia Institute of Technology, where he studied memory and cognitive aging with Anderson Smith and Randall Engle.

Dave started collecting data and making friends nearly the moment he started grad school. He was well-liked for his warm personality and his sharp wit and well-respected for his intellect and focus. Dave received his PhD in 2003, shortly after his first daughter Sarah was born.

After graduate school, Dave completed a National Institute on Aging postdoctoral fellowship at Washington University in St Louis, where he worked with Henry L. Roediger, III and David Balota. His time there was fruitful both personally and professionally and fostered many strong friendships that would last throughout the rest of his life. His daughter Rachel was born while they lived in St Louis.

In 2006, Dave and his family moved to Fort Collins, Colorado, where he was hired as an Assistant Professor of Psychology at Colorado State University. He was excited to move to Fort Collins for many reasons, including being an avid fan of the Denver Broncos — even long before moving to Colorado. He enjoyed playing and watching sports, reading, writing poetry, listening to music, being with friends, and, most of all, spending time with his two daughters, Sarah (age 7) and Rachel (age 5). In addition to his daughters, he is survived by his parents Peter and Teresa McCabe, his brothers Paul McCabe and Mark McCabe, his sister Christina McCabe, and countless friends.

We thank Roddy Roediger for his suggestion to write this in honor of Dave.


Dave was a great scholar and friend to many, he shall be sorely missed.

A sad loss — what a super-nice and super-accomplished man!


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