Elizabeth Loftus, a forensic memory expert ranked among the 100 most eminent psychologists of the 20th century, has joined the UC Irvine faculty as a Distinguished Professor in the School of Social Ecology.
The Distinguished Professor title is the highest campus-level distinction and is reserved for senior faculty who have achieved the highest levels of scholarship over the course of their careers.
Loftus comes to UCI from the University of Washington in Seattle where she has spent 29 years. Considered a pioneer in false memory research, Loftus has helped to prove that in some cases, people believe they experienced events that never occurred. Her research also showed that eyewitness accounts, notably those given in court, often are inaccurate.
"We are extremely proud to have Elizabeth Loftus join our faculty," said C. Ronald Huff, dean of the School of Social Ecology. "A world-class scholar who has been widely recruited and received many honors, she will add tremendously to our growing expertise in the areas of psychology and law."
At UCI, Loftus says she is looking forward to establishing new collaborative projects with the faculty in the departments of psychology and social behavior; and criminology, law and society, where she will hold a joint appointment.
"I'm excited to come to Irvine and join the outstanding group of scholars working at the intersection of psychology and law -- some of the most distinguished psychologists in the world," said Loftus. "I also was very flattered to be offered a distinguished professor title. A colleague recently sent me an email with 'welcome to paradise' as the subject -- that's how it feels to be here."
Loftus has served as an expert witness or consultant in some of the nation's most high-profile trials, including the McMartin Pre-School molestation case, the "Hillside Strangler" case, the Michael Jackson case and the trials of Oliver North, the Menendez brothers and the police officers involved in the Rodney King beating.
In April, the Review of General Psychology ranked Loftus 58th among the top 100 psychologists of the 20th century. The list begins with luminaries B.F. Skinner, Jean Piaget and Sigmund Freud. Loftus is the highest-ranked woman on the list.
She is the recipient of numerous other awards and honors. The American Psychological Society recognized her "significant lifetime intellectual contributions to the basic science of psychology" with the William James Fellow Award in 2001, and the National Academy of Sciences awarded her with the inaugural Henry & Bryna David Lectureship in 2002 for "application of the best social and behavioral sciences research to public policy issues."
Loftus, ranked among the 25 psychologists most frequently cited in introductory psychology textbooks, has published more then 250 journal articles and is the author of 20 books, some in third and fifth editions and many that are translated into other languages. She is author of "Eyewitness Testimony," which won the National Media Award, and co-author of the widely cited book "The Myth of Repressed Memory: False Memories and Allegations of Sexual Abuse."
Loftus graduated with honors in mathematics and psychology from UCLA in 1966. She received a master's degree and a doctorate, both in psychology, from Stanford University.
UCI is a top-ranked public university dedicated to the principles of research, scholarship and community. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with approximately 22,000 undergraduate and graduate students and nearly 1,150 faculty members and clinicians. The third largest employer in dynamic Orange County, UCI contributes an annual economic impact that exceeds $2.65 billion.