Observation

Lisa Feldman Barrett Named a Guggenheim Fellow

Lisa Feldman Barrett

Lisa Feldman Barrett

APS President-Elect Lisa Feldman Barrett, known worldwide for her revolutionary research on emotion in the brain, has been selected to receive the 2019 Guggenheim Fellowship in neuroscience.

Barrett is among a diverse group of 168 scholars, artists, and writers chosen for the Fellowship from a pool of nearly 3,000 applicants. The John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation awards these prestigious fellowships annually on the basis of prior achievement and exceptional promise.

A University Distinguished Professor of Psychology at Northeastern University, Barrett is a leading scholar in the field of emotion research. Her work has shaped how we understand people’s inner lives, revealing that emotional experiences and their expressions are varied within individuals and among cultures. She has discovered that emotions do not “live” in certain brain structures (e.g., fear is not housed in the amygdala) and explores the neuroscientific basis of emotions.

Barrett began her career as a clinical psychological scientist, but she quickly became interested in the body’s role in mental life. She eventually pursued training in neuroimaging with the help of colleagues and collaborators, as well as funding from the US National Science Foundation and the National Institutes of Mental Health.

“Honors like these are never the effort of a single individual,” Barrett tweeted after learning of the award. “THANK YOU to my many generous collaborators who patiently shared their expertise so I could become a neuroscientist.”

Barrett received her PhD in clinical psychology at the University of Waterloo in Canada, where she undertook additional concentrations in social and personality psychology, statistics, and philosophy of science. Her professional interests quickly shifted toward psychophysiology, and she eventually pursued training in neuroimaging.

Barrett, who served as an at-large member of the APS Board from 2011 to 2014 and who received the APS Mentor Award in 2018, is also a research fellow at Harvard Medical School and has a research appointment at Massachusetts General Hospital Department of Radiology. She has published more than 200 academic papers in such outlets as Psychological ScienceNature Neuroscience, and Science. She has given a popular TED talk, has testified before US Congress on the role of emotional literacy in public health, and has appeared on the Today Show to discuss her research. Her popular 2017 book, How Emotions Are Made: The Secret Life of the Brain, details how emotion is constructed mentally and physiologically in the moment and across the life course.

Barrett has received multiple awards for her work, including the National Institutes of Health Director’s Pioneer Award. She is a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, the Society of Experimental Psychologists, the Royal Society of Canada, the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Society for Personality and Social Psychology, and the Mind and Life Institute.

Guggenheim Fellowships are one-time-only grants that allow scholars, artists, and scientists the time and creative freedom to complete their research, book, or other projects. The 2019 Fellows cohort also includes Miguel Eckstein, a University of California, Santa Barbara, cognitive psychologist who studies how the brain handles everyday perceptual tasks.

Watch Lisa Feldman Barrett’s TED talk:

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